When preparing for your baby’s arrival, one of the most enjoyable aspects is setting up the nursery. You will often have a picture in your mind of what your nursery will look like, what furniture you will have, and what will decorate the walls. However, what many don’t consider is, whether this space will provide an optimal sleep environment for their baby.
There are a few things you can do in order to ensure your baby’s room is set up for optimal sleep. You can have a beautiful space for your baby that also gives them the best chance of a good night’s sleep. Here are my tips -
1. Keep your baby’s room simple
During your baby’s first year, they should be exposed to as little stimulation as possible. If the room is too crowded and there are lots of decorative pieces, it can distract them and make it difficult for them to fall asleep. Your baby’s room should feel relaxed and calm, with minimal furniture and accessories. Sticking to a palette of muted colours, such as pastels or a soft white, will instantly make the room feel serene.
2. Keep the room temperature as even as possible
If possible, place the cot away from the door or any windows as draughts may wake your little one prematurely. During the winter, stand-alone radiator heaters work well as they regulate themselves and provide a consistent heat without dehydrating your baby.
3. Ensure you have block out blinds on your windows
Ideally, your baby’s room should be completely dark for both daytime and nighttime sleeps. Sunlight may cause them to stay awake or have difficulty falling asleep. Artificial light can also distract babies, such as the little red light on the baby monitor. Make sure this little light is not in your baby’s line of vision.
4. Avoid any hanging mobiles over your baby’s cot
This will definitely over-stimulate your baby and prevent them from falling asleep. The same applies to toys in their cot. I recommend no toys in the cot until 4 months of age, which is when I suggest introducing a comforter. A comforter at this age will give them the security they need to enable them to become an independent sleeper and settle on their own.
5. Use white noise
Particularly in the fourth trimester of a baby's life (their first three months), this offers them much comfort. The humming sounds are reminiscent of the sounds they are used to hearing in the womb. White noise will also help to drown out any other sounds that may wake them up.
6. Swaddle Up
Ensure you purchase some good swaddles. I strongly recommend swaddling from day one, as it will make your baby feel safe and comforted, as it reminds them of being in the womb. When swaddled, your baby’s arms are tucked in which helps prevent their startle reflex from waking them up. Swaddling can also help settle your baby down when they are over-stimulated. Once your baby is old enough to start putting their fingers in their mouth, or they are breaking out of the swaddle and also starting to roll, it's important to transition them into a sleeping bag. Depending on the current climate there are different ones for winter and summer.
The key to achieving the optimal sleep environment is to keep things simple. There is plenty of time to add beautiful pieces to your baby’s room as they grow up and once they have already mastered independent sleep and settling patterns.