There is no doubt that the room in which your baby sleeps is important. The environment in which you choose to put your baby or child to bed needs to be conducive to sleep and there are easy ways to achieve that. Here is a quick guide to creating the ideal sleep environment:
In Your Room
During at least the first six or twelve months, your baby is likely to be sleeping in your room but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to need adapt the environment a little:
Lights. If you don’t have a lamp or you only have one that is intended for reading, you might want to swap it for a dimmer light. You want to keep the room as dark as possible. If you can, situate the lamp as close to the door as possible so that you can leave the room in darkness but can turn it on easily when you come up to bed. The last thing you want is to stumble around when you go to bed and wake the baby! Make sure any lights in the bedroom use incandescent bulbs (no energy saving bulbs), we can continue to produce melatonin (a hormone that induces sleep) when we have incandescent bulbs in the room,
Temperature. It needs to be warm, but not too warm. Remember that babies can’t regulate their own body temperatures so it’s a good idea to invest in a nursery thermometer. This can be as simple as one that you stick on the wall (that only cost a small amount) to the latest in technology advancements. Either way, you need to know that the ideal temperature for a baby’s room is between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
No Screens. Don’t take your laptop or tablet to bed with you and keep your cell phone use to a minimum. Why? Research has shown that the lights coming from them prevents baby from producing essential melatonin, which is needed for sleep. This is another reason why dim lights are vital. Research has also shown that adults who go to bed immediately after looking at a screen tend to sleep restlessly so it’s a good idea all round to leave all devices downstairs when you want to sleep.
In Baby’s Own Room
Before baby is settled in her own room, there are a few things you will want to do to make sure it is as comfortable as possible for her to sleep in. Again, use the checklist from above for essential sleeping tips. You need dim lighting (perhaps a night light that can be switched on only when you need to go in at night) and you need to make sure it is the correct temperature and that there are no obvious drafts- so don’t place the crib near the window for example. In addition you might want to think about:
Decorations. It’s very tempting to paint lots of bright colors in the nursery, or to hang wonderful pictures etc. But try not to overcrowd the room. Remember that young babies can find bright colors and lots of pictures quite stimulating and research has actually shown that colors such as red and orange can make a person feel agitated or cramped. Bright colors can be overwhelming and hanging mobiles can also be too much of a distraction. If you can, stick to muted colors that will help baby to relax.
No clutter. It’s tempting to store things in the room that is least likely to have people coming and going as much as others (hopefully!) but try not to use your baby’s room this way. Take care to keep the floor free from clutter so that the room is as calm as possible. It goes without saying that no toys or other items should be placed into the crib either.
Mattress. Your child will want to sleep on a comfortable mattress, it needs to be firm but comfortable. I also suggest you invest in a mattress that is non-toxic and organic if possible. Your child will be spending a large amount of each day on their mattress, we want it to be as healthy as possible. Naturepedic makes amazing certified organic crib mattresses.
Ditch the distractions. There is no need for mobiles (as previously mentioned) or sound and light machines as they could cause too much of a distraction for sleep. Start simple and your baby will not need props like this at all.
Noise. Keep it to a minimum, but don’t tiptoe past baby’s room each time you need to use the bathroom! Babies are able to sleep through general noise fairly well so you don’t want the entire house to shut down at 7pm when baby goes to bed. During the day it can help baby to determine nap time from night time sleep if you carry on as you usually would- so don’t unplug the phone or ban visitors. Life must go on when baby sleeps!
Keep it familiar. The last thing to remember is that routine is key for most babies. So don’t be tempted to move the room around when you feel like a change. This can be upsetting for baby and the last thing you want is to disturb the fantastic sleeping environment you’ve worked so hard on.
About Rebecca Michi:
Rebecca Michi is a gentle sleep consultant who truly believes that some children need a feed during the night until they are 12 months old. She’s not one to judge you on your parenting choices, instead she supports you as you help your child learn to sleep more independently.