Create the Perfect Sleep Environment for Your Baby: Essential Tips for Pregnant and New Parents
When you first find out you're expecting, it's natural to get caught up in the excitement of nursery design. But have you considered how important the sleep environment actually is for your baby's well-being?
We're here to guide you through creating the ideal sleep environment for your little one, whether you're pregnant or have already welcomed your baby into the world.
Safety First: Reducing the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
The safety of your baby while they sleep is paramount. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a tragic and unexplained occurrence that can happen to seemingly healthy babies during sleep. While the exact cause is still unknown, the American Academy of Pediatrics has provided guidelines that can help reduce the risk.
Use this checklist to ensure your baby's sleep environment is safe.
● Firm mattress – when you place your baby on the mattress, the baby should not sink in at all. No pillow top or dock-a-tots.
● A naked crib – a firm mattress, a fitted sheet, and your baby in a sleep sack or swaddle are the only things that should be in the crib; this means no toys, stuffed animals, bumpers, blankets, pillows, or positioners. These can be entrapment, strangulation, or suffocation hazards.
● Temperature – between 68-72F – more on this below
● Air circulation – a fan blowing towards the ceiling and not on baby
Both babies and adults sleep best in a cool, comfortable room. It's important to maintain a temperature of 68-72°F (20-22.2°C) to prevent overheating, which has been associated with an increased risk of SIDS. But how do you know if the temperature is just right?
Signs your baby's room is too hot:
- Flushed skin
- Heavy breathing
Signs your baby's room is too cold:
- Cool or cold touch on the nape of the neck or core
Even if your house is set to the ideal temperature, make sure your baby's room is properly regulated. You can use a baby monitor with a temperature gauge or a standalone digital thermometer to double-check.
Dressing baby for sleep…
Babies are not able to adjust their clothing like adults can, so it's crucial to dress them appropriately for sleep. A good rule of thumb is to add one extra layer compared to what you would wear as an adult. However, this does not include blankets unless specifically designed for sleep.
In spring and summer, a lightweight onesie and a cotton sleep sack or swaddle should keep your baby comfortable for optimal sleep. During fall and winter, a combination of lighter and heavier-weight pajamas with an appropriate sleep sack or swaddle is recommended.
● Monitor the temperature in your baby's nursery, keeping it between 68-72°F (20-22.2°C).
● Layer pajamas and sleep sacks to ensure your baby is cozy but not too warm.
Darkness: The Key to a Good Night's Sleep
Did you know that a dark room promotes better sleep for your baby? Darkness signals to their body that it's time to sleep, while light signifies wakefulness. Creating a pitch-black sleep environment can help your little one fall asleep, stay asleep, and experience more restorative sleep. It also prevents early morning wake-ups and difficulty settling when it's still light out.
While some parents may resist the idea, trust in the science behind darkness and its impact on sleep quality.
● Darken your baby's nursery so it's pitch-black
● A solution like the Slumberpod is ideal for at home and for travel!
● If you want to darken the room in a pinch, Black Hefty Trash Bags and blue painter's tape are my go-to.
● Also, blackout cellular shades with blackout curtains on wraparound rods are highly effective.
White Noise: A Soothing Aid for Better Sleep
Many parents worry that white noise may become a dependency for their baby, but it is completely safe as long as it falls around 50 decibels. As your child grows older, you can gradually wean them off white noise.
Sleep sound machines that play white, brown, or pink noise can help soothe your baby to sleep and drown out any sudden noises that may disrupt their slumber.
Want to learn a lot more about white noise? This post goes much deeper.
● Invest in a dedicated sound machine. My favorites can be found here.
● Tune it to the white noise option – stay away from other sounds because they stimulate the brain
Ideal Sleep Environment For Your Baby Wrap-up
By following these tips, you can create the ideal sleep environment for your baby and ensure they have restful nights for optimal growth and development. Sweet dreams for both you and your little one!
About The Author
Christine Brown, Lead Certified Sleep Consultant & Behavior Coach, Bella Luna Family
Christine is a Mom to twin boys who she jokes tried to kill her from sleep deprivation when they were six months old! This experience ignited an obsession with sleep and a passion for helping families. Christine became a certified child sleep consultant in early 2016 and founded Bella Luna Family, a parent consulting company specializing in helping parents with some of the most challenging aspects of parenting, including child sleep, lactation, behavior, and potty training. Christine and her team can be found on all social channels at @bellalunafamily.