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Are You Making This Baby Sleep Mistake?

Cute kids watching TV on a tabletI’ve talked a lot about the importance of keeping your baby’s bedroom dark at nighttime and for naps, and for good reason; light can trigger powerful responses in your brain that tell your body it’s time to be awake.

Light from electronics like laptops and TV can disrupt our melatonin production, which makes it harder to sleep as well.

This has become more widely known lately, as light-emitting devices have become more ingrained in our daily lives, but what some people don’t realize is that even small amounts of light, natural or otherwise, creeping in from under curtains or below the door can disturb a baby’s sleep.

This isn’t only due to blue light’s stimulating effects on our brain. If your baby wakes up for a few seconds and can see the toys outside her crib or her favorite stuffy on the dresser, she might rouse herself so she can play.

If your toddler is lying there with the sun streaming in, she’s going to be thinking it’s still time to be playing outside.

But if the room is dark, when she opens her eyes her brain will tell her, “It’s dark…must still be time for sleeping.”

In the winter in North America, light isn’t usually a problem for nighttime sleeping, because it gets dark early in the evening and doesn’t get light in the morning until a reasonable hour as well, but once sunny spring kicks in, keeping baby’s room dark can be more of a challenge, and as awesome as it is to have those nice, bright evenings for sitting on the patio, it can wreak havoc on months of careful sleep training.

Baby waking up too early

Finding Sources of Light

You might think your child’s room is pretty dark, but it’s important to check it out and make sure. Light can be sneaky, and it takes awhile for our eyes to adjust and realize the room isn’t as dark as we thought it was.

As a simple test, just go into your child’s room near the time you want him to go to bed, close the bedroom door, wait a minute or two and then look around once your eyes have adjusted.

  • Do you see evening sun peeking out from under the blinds?
  • Are those curtains you thought were pretty thick actually a bit gauzy?
  • Is there a night light or digital clock glowing near the crib that could be keeping baby awake?

Once you have found the source of any extra light, the solutions are pretty simple.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on heavy-duty blackout curtains (although if you can afford it, go nuts!).

Tips For Darkening Your Baby’s Room

  • To darken a room you can simply hang a thick blanket over your existing curtains. If you have blinds, make sure they are fitted to the window properly so there are no gaps on the sides or the bottom of the window.
  • If there’s a lot of light leaking in on either side, you may need to buy a different size. In a pinch, you can even tape cardboard over the window panes to block out that spring sunshine.
  • It might seem nit-picky, but remember that there are many small factors that either help us sleep or make it harder.
  • Many adults have restless, fitful nights because they have spent too much time on their computers right before bed or because they leave the hall light on.
  • Blocking out excess light is a simple fix, and it will make a world of difference.

Baby Not Sleeping Through The Night?

Get One-On-One Help!

Yes, The Sleep Sense™ Program is a great Do-It-Yourself guide for solving your baby or toddler’s sleep problems!

But if you’re looking for full-service, one-on-one help, I’m here to help!

The Sleep Sense Philosophy

Cry-it-out? Coddle? Co-sleep? Attachment parenting? Ferberizing?
If you’re going to let me help you with something as precious as your child’s sleep, you probably want to know a little bit about who I am and exactly how I think...

Dana’s Sleep Blog

Straight talk about sleep, parenting,
babies, toddlers, relationships… and
just about anything else!
My blog is a great place to find opinions, advice, the occasional rant, and some great videos about sleep.

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