Newborns don’t have a sleep-wake cycle yet and daytime and night time means very little to them. But for the first four months, complete darkness may help establish better sleep.
“The darkness helps to train a baby to understand the difference between daytime and night time and helps to eliminate anything that may stimulate your newborn and keep them up,” shares Dr. Jay Lovenheim, D.O. a US-based pediatric specialist, in an interview with Romper.
Don’t worry about your babies being afraid of the dark — they actually find it comforting as it is similar to their time inside their mother’s womb. According to Sarah Ockwell-Smith, author of The Gentle Sleep Book, replicating that environment will help induce sleep. She suggests keeping the room as dark and free from stimulating objects (like toys) as possible.
In a previous SmartParenting.com.ph article, mom Pennelope Baria shares that distinguishing night time from daytime was particularly helpful in getting her daughter sleep by herself starting at 4 months old.
“During the day, we opened our windows and curtains. All lights are on, plus we played nursery rhymes in a speaker so it can be heard all over the house. At exactly 5 p.m., I give Seven a sponge bath,” Pennelope shares. “I read her bedtime stories, dim light or lampshade lang and as much as possible, no sound at all."
Night lights are unlikely to negatively affect your baby sleeping, according to Lovenheim. For some babies, a night light helps them feel comfortable and reminds them that they are in familiar surroundings if ever they wake up in the middle of the night.
“There is no absolute rule or individual preference for darkness or dim light in an infant’s or young child’s room,” Dr. Daniel Lewin, Ph.D., associate director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Hospital in the United States, tells Romper.
He adds, “Babies are often up in the middle of the night—sometimes babbling, playing with fingers and toes or other items in their crib—and low-level lighting has no known negative effects and may facilitate quiet and developmentally appropriate middle-of-the-night activities.”
Just make sure to choose a night light that’s dim and doesn’t change colors. “A constant glow from a music machine or a non-led light bulb should not cause any harm. However, it is preferred to keep lights that are constantly changing colors, frequency, or intensity (such as a tv) off while your child sleeps,” Lovenheim says, adding that these kinds of night light might work the opposite and keep your baby awake instead.
Looking for more tips to get baby to sleep faster? Click here for some more ways you can try.