Should Babies Nap in The Dark?

Should Babies Nap in The Dark?

Discover the benefits of napping in the dark for your baby's sleep. Get tips on creating the ideal sleep environment

Ideal napping conditions: Should babies always nap in the dark?

For adults, naps are a sweet, sweet luxury. For your little one, however, naps are a necessity. A successful nap schedule will not only set your baby up for better health and development, but it also plays a role in your well-being as a parent. People commonly ask questions like “how long should babies nap” and “where should babies nap?” However, there’s one element of napping that many parents overlook—the room’s lighting levels.

At night, it’s easy to create a dark, cocoon-like environment for your little one to snooze, but should babies nap in the dark during the day, too? Or do light levels actually matter for naptime? In this article, we explore the impact of napping in the dark on a baby's sleep patterns, from benefits to practical tips on reaching naptime nirvana.

Is total darkness necessary? 

It’s a parenting golden rule: a well-rested baby makes a happy baby. Naps play an essential part in the sleep equation. However, you might pause before you keep the curtains open. 

Why babies need darkness for daytime naps

While nighttime sleep is typically shrouded in dark, research points to darkness benefitting naptime sleep as well. Darkness sets your baby up for higher-quality sleep and better sleeping patterns. During your baby’s midday snooze, they may benefit from a dark environment for these reasons:

  • Circadian rhythm. During the first three months of life, babies are slowly developing their circadian rhythm, which is the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle across a 24-hour day. During this precious initial stage, exposure to natural light during the day and darkness at night and during naps can help synchronize and reinforce this rhythm in your baby. 
  • Restful sleep. A dark room beckons you to sleep, drifting you into a deeper, more restful slumber. For your baby, it’s no different. Darkness signals to their tiny, developing brains that it's time to rest. By keeping a darker room, you can help them stay asleep all naptime long.
  • Reduced distractions. Babies are naturally curious creatures. Even when they should be resting, they can't help but explore their surroundings with their eyes. A dark room minimizes visual distractions and stimulation, allowing your baby to focus on the task at hand—drifting off into dreamland. By eliminating the temptation to examine their surroundings, you're helping them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer.

How do I make my baby’s room dark for sleep?

Ready to turn the nursery into a slumber paradise? In just a few simple steps, you can eliminate any distracting or sleep-disturbing light for your baby.

Set the stage for your little star's sweetest dreams with these tips:

  • Blackout shades and blinds. High-coverage shades and/or blinds can provide effective light-blocking when drawn. Make sure they fit well and don't leave gaps around the window edges.
  • Cool temperatures. Babies tend to sleep better in a cool room. While there’s no definitive “best” temperature, a comfortable temperature for most babies is around 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a monitor with a temperature and humidity sensor or room thermometer to ensure the room is just right. 
  • White noise. While not directly related to darkness, white noise machines can be a game-changer in creating a peaceful sleep environment. Try to find a white noise machine with high control options and multiple sound settings.
  • Consistency. Routines are the bread and butter of a good nap or bedtime. Before a nap, create a small set of repeatable and soothing activities. Changing into sleep wear, book reading, and music are all great activities to settle your baby into a naptime mood. 

Create your baby’s dream sleep room with Nanit

It’s safe to say that darkness is a welcome component of naptime. By darkening your baby’s room, you can build better sleep habits and healthier, happier waking hours—and that starts with the right tools.

From naptime to bedtime, the Nanit Sound + Light offers sweet dreams for your little one. With 11 sounds, a customizable nightlight, and real-time app monitoring, our smart sound machine builds a sensory experience unlike any other for naptime. Combine it with blackout curtains, a cool temperature, and your smart baby monitor, so that both you and your baby can feel ready to snooze in no time.

Take your baby’s rest to the next level and explore Nanit for yourself.

Key takeaways 

  • Darkness during baby naps is beneficial as it helps synchronize the baby's circadian rhythm, promotes restful sleep by distractions, allowing the baby to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
  • To create a dark environment for your baby's nap, consider using blackout shades and/or blinds to block external light sources. Maintaining a cool room temperature and using a white noise machine can also enhance the sleep environment.
  • Consistency in establishing naptime routines with soothing activities can contribute to better naps and healthier waking hours for your baby. Nanit offers tools like the Sound + Light machine to enhance the sensory experience during naptime.


NIH. PERSPECTIVE: The Long-Term Effects of Light Exposure on Establishment of Newborn Circadian Rhythm.

NIH. White noise and sleep induction.

Sleep Advisor. 7 Baby Sleep Facts Every Parent Should Know (Infographic).

Sleep Foundation. How To Make Your Room Dark for a Good Night’s Sleep.

Sleep Foundation. The Best Room Temperature for a Sleeping Baby.

Sleep Health Foundation. Why is it so important for your newborn to sleep well.

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In pursuit of transparency and credibility, our articles incorporate credible third-party sources, peer-reviewed studies, and abstracts. These sources are directly linked within the text or provided at the bottom of the articles to grant readers easy access to the source material.


Natalie Barnett, PhD serves as VP of Clinical Research at Nanit. Natalie initiated sleep research collaborations at Nanit and in her current role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world who use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep and leads the internal sleep and development research programs at Nanit. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia and a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia. Natalie was an Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU School of Medicine prior to joining Nanit. Natalie is also the voice of Nanit's science-backed, personalized sleep tips delivered to users throughout their baby's first few years.

Kristy Ojala is Nanit’s Digital Content Director. She spends way too much time looking at maps and weather forecasts and pictures of Devon Rex cats and no-cook dinners. A former sleep champion, she strives to share trustworthy somnabulism tips with other parents—praying for that one fine day when no tiny humans wake her up while it’s still dark out. Her kids highly recommend 3 books, approximately 600 stuffies, Chopin’s “Nocturnes,” and the Nanit Sound + Light for bedtime success.

Mackenzie Sangster is on the Brand and Community team at Nanit. She supports content development and editing for Nanit’s Parent Confidently blog as well as other marketing initiatives. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her friends, cooking, being active, and using the Pro + Flex Duo to keep an eye on her fur-baby, Poppy!

Holly Hays is a contributor and writer for Nanit, channeling her years as a mama and former magazine editor to create fun, useful content for fellow busy, trying-to-do-their-best parents and caregivers. Holly has written for a wide range of brands and media outlets (Ergobaby, HGTV, Manhattan Toy Company, OXO), loves to cook and read mystery novels, and leans heavily on her two daughters to keep her up to date on all the latest slang.