Babies and Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain that helps regulate our sleep and wake cycles. When levels of melatonin spike, it is time to sleep. As adults, this hormone is produced when the sun sets. But when do babies begin to produce their own melatonin?
Introduction To Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland in the brain. It regulates our sleep-wake cycles as it naturally increases in the evening, which is when we feel tired and ready to rest. It is also involved in other biological processes, such as our body’s response to seasonal changes in daylight.
When Do Babies Start Making Their Own Melatonin?
Babies start to make their own melatonin around the two month mark. At this point in infancy, it begins to respond to environmental stimuli such as light, temperature and noise. However, it isn’t until 4–6 months that its production is so mature and sensitive that it can regulate our sleep cycles.
Research has shown that babies who produce melatonin at an earlier age are more likely to sleep for longer periods and wake up less often during the night. Studies also suggest that infants who do not produce adequate amounts of melatonin, may have difficulty sleeping and experience long awakenings at night.
How To Help Babies Make More Melatonin
Parents can help their babies produce melatonin in a few ways:
- Maintain a consistent bedtime routine: A consistent bedtime routine has been proven to help babies wind down and transition into sleep. With consistency, they will become familiar with the signals that signal it’s time to sleep.
- Limit electronic use before bed: Exposing babies to electronic light can suppress the production of melatonin. To prevent this, turn off TVs, tablets and phones a few hours before your baby’s bedtime.
- Set the mood: Create a calming environment by lowering the lights and using white noise or nature sounds to help your baby sleep better and longer.
Melatonin is an important hormone for regulating our sleep. Babies typically start to produce melatonin between 2–4 months of age, but its production doesn’t mature until 4–6 months. Parents can do a few simple things to help babies produce more melatonin and get better sleep. By implementing a consistent bedtime routine and reducing electronic use before bedtime, parents can give their baby a better chance at sleeping soundly.