Sleep is a vital need for babies and young children, no wonder why parents are so engrossed of the ways to help their babies sleep better. In this modern day of parenting, many of us are already aware of the devices that claim to promote sleep in babies, and one of which you might have heard of are night light projectors. However, you might be wondering, do night light projectors actually help babies fall and stay asleep?
Night light projectors are not a magic solution to help babies sleep. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends keeping the room dark, calm and quiet at night to help your baby associate nighttime with sleeping.
However, this doesn’t imply that you can’t use a night light projector in your baby’s room. Should you decide to have one, you may use it as part of a routine to help prepare your baby for bedtime. The question is when and how shouldyou use it? We’ve got some suggestions for you below but before that, let’s have a quick run-through of the possible reasons why it’s pretty challenging to get babies to sleep.
Why is my baby not sleeping?
“Why won’t my baby sleep?”
This is a mind-boggling question that many first-time parents have in mind after trying all the tricks that they thought would help. But when you come to think of it, babies have just left the room – a place that is much different than life outside of it. Giving them some time to adjust to their newly-found environment is reasonable enough.
But just in case you’re curious why your baby isn’t sleeping when everyone else does, then here’s a couple of explanations:
Babies don’t have a regular sleep cycle until around 6 months of age
As you might notice, newborns do sleep a lot- approximately 16 to 17 hours each day, but they also wake up very often. Most newborns can sleep for around 1 to 2 hours at a time, but since each baby is so unique, there is no exact way to find out how much sleep would they actually get.
Additionally, it takes time for their bodies to develop a regular circadian rhythm or day-night cycle, that would help them differentiate nighttime with daytime. As their body still adapts, you should expect that they won’t have a regular sleeping pattern that you can track on yet.
Some babies may continue having the day-night reversal
Day-night reversal is a common sleeping routine for newborns, wherein they get more sleep through the day and get active through the night. Some babies get through this sleeping pattern a bit quicker than the rest while some babies might settle with this kind of routine. This may be one reason why your baby won’t sleep at night, and demands more attention at nighttime.
Babies have the Moro or startle reflex.
No matter how much you’ve designed your baby’s nursery to become startle-free, your baby may eventually flail his arms up or stretch his legs and even cry out loud. This is due to their Moro or startle reflex which is naturally part of infancy. But don’t worry, Moro reflex usually disappears by the time babies reach 5 to 7 months of age.
So while there’s every reason for your baby not to sleep through the night during their first few months, you might still want to try every solution that you can get, but are night light projectors one of them?
Why night light projectors do not help babies sleep
Night light projectors are eye-pleasing and a fun way to entertain your baby’s eyes when nighttime approaches. However, if you’re aiming to help your baby sleep, these handy projectors may not be the ideal solution.
Night light projectors are lighting devices that can be used to project several images on the walls or ceiling. Projectors often use LED to light up the device and are covered with films where the desired images are imprinted. Some even have speakers that can play lullabies to help calm your babies down at night.
Seems pretty neat, right? However, if we try to look back on the reasons why a lot of babies won’t sleep at night, using a night light projector might be counterintuitive. If you think about it, babies need less stimulation around bedtime to help them associate nighttime with rest and sleep. And this is what experts recommend too!
Additionally, LED lights do emit a fair amount of blue light which may suppress the production of an important hormone influencing sleep – melatonin. Therefore, using a night light projector in the room may, unfortunately, keep your baby from sleeping instead.
When and how to use a night light projector for baby
While night light projectors can’t directly help babies sleep, you still have the option to make it a part of their calming routine to prepare your baby for bedtime. Here are some suggestions that can help if you choose to use one for your baby.
Keep the light on the lowest possible setting
The dimmer the room, the more melatonin your baby will release. So if you want to use a night light projector, it’s best to set the light to its lowest setting to prevent over-stimulating your baby.
Choose a projector with warmer colors
Due to the concerns with the effects of blue light, you may find it more helpful to use a night light projector that emits warmer or redder colors. Red lights are less likely to disrupt the circadian rhythm and affect the melatonin production of the body.
Turn it off one to two hours before your baby’s bedtime
No matter how mild and calming it appears, this device is still a source of light that can provide stimulation to your baby. Turning it off at around an hour or two before your little one’s usual bedtime may help him or her doze off more easily.
To round it up, night light projectors may harm your baby’s ability to sleep, as they do emit light that may affect the way babies perceive nighttime.
However, the choice of whether to use this device or not is still up to you as a parent. If your baby seems to be happier and calmer with a night light projector in their room, then you can still choose to use one in the nursery. You can also try out the tips we mentioned above to reduce the negative effects of the nightlight, and help your baby fall and stay asleep.