Updated: December 2023,
Remember your baby is used to a dark, quiet environment in the womb. She’s not used to the usual cues of nighttime sleeping. Nighttime, at first, is what she’s used to asleep or awake.
One method of getting your baby used to sleeping at night, or in the dark, is to be sure she’s exposed to lots of sunlight during the day. When it’s time to nap or time to go to sleep at night, part of your ritual can be dimming the lights, simulating dusk and nighttime, even if it’s an afternoon nap. This way, she’ll get used to day and night cycles and learn that nighttime and darkness are for sleeping.
There are clocks called dawn simulators that will gradually dim into total darkness over a period of about half an hour. This can be a way to gradually dim the light in the baby’s room. You can start while you’re still rocking her to sleep. When you start putting her in her crib when she’s still awake, you can set the clock to start to dim when you leave the room, or leave part way through the cycle. This way you’re not just flipping out the light and leaving her alone in the dark.
You can do this for nap times too. The clocks will cycle on slowly in the morning as well; you want to be sure that you mute the actual alarm sound, though, so you don’t wake the baby up with a shock.
If you combine any of these devices with your usual routines, you’ll help teach your babies the cues for going to sleep at nap time and at night. These are gentle methods that many parents prefer to just letting the baby cry it out.