How To Create A Safe and Comfortable Sleep Environment for Your Newborn
by natalie fitzgerald
You’ve been dreaming up and designing your baby’s nursery, and soon it will be time to bring your newborn home to this extra special space you’ve created for your little bundle of joy. This is where you will spend your days feeding your baby, changing her, rocking her, singing her lullabies, reading her books, giggling together, and eventually where you will lay her down for sleep. It’s a haven filled with special gifts and memories from your shower and perhaps your own childhood, a place your baby will feel comfort, security, and love. When creating this space, it’s important to keep both fashion and function in mind; after all, this IS where your baby will sleep, eventually! To help maximize those precious hours of sleep your baby needs, here are 5 tips to help create a safe and comfortable sleep environment for your little one:
1. Dark room: Keep the room dark to minimize distractions. Even simple objects, shapes, or colors can be distracting for a baby and can keep them from drifting off to sleep. Blackout curtains or shades are an investment worth making. Darkness also helps increase melatonin production (the sleep hormone), and can help keep the sunlight out during those early morning hours too!
2. Sound machine: Use a sound machine with a continuous, constant sound, like white noise. White noise is calming for babies because this is a familiar sound from the womb! A constant sound machine can also help block outside noise and keep your baby from waking up during those delicate transitions between sleep cycles.
3. Cool temperature: Babies can have a hard time regulating their own body temperature, and especially younger infants who might have an extra layer with a swaddle. Keep your baby’s room temperature at 68-72 degrees, on the cooler side. Adjust if your baby seems too hot or too cold.
4. Keep crib free of distractions: Remove distractions from the crib area. Not only can these be disruptive to your baby’s sleep, but they can also be a safety issue. The crib should be free of blankets, stuffed animals, toys, even mobiles can be distracting for a baby trying to fall asleep. Try to find other places in the nursery to keep these adorable accessories – above a changing table is a great place for a hanging mobile to distract your baby, especially when they reach the age where they wiggle uncontrollably and fight the diaper changes!
5. Establish a routine: Babies love to know what to expect, especially when it comes to sleep. Develop a naptime and bedtime ritual that is sustainable for your family and parenting style. This can look different for every family, but the consistency of whatever you choose to do can help your baby pick up on sleep cues and can help sleep come more easily for your baby.
Newborns will usually sleep just about anywhere, so if you’re like me and love the snuggles, I encourage you to soak it all up! Let your baby nap in your arms, or in a cozy wrap on a walk, in the stroller, carseat, or swing. Just try to put your newborn down for at least one nap per day so that you can help her get comfortable in her sleep space at home. It can also help to lay your baby down awake, so she doesn’t rely on a prop to drift off to sleep.
Check back next week for more on sleep props, and how to establish healthy and sustainable sleep habits early on!
Text by Natalie Fitzgerald, Contributor
Natalie Fitzgerald is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and Postpartum Doula. Natalie’s approach to sleep training is tailored to each family she works with, meeting them exactly where they are and developing a customized plan to help them reach their goals, based on their unique baby’s needs and their parenting style. Natalie walks alongside families during the time they need the most support, encouraging parents and helping them find a rhythm that works best with their baby and lifestyle. Before consulting with families, Natalie taught high school English and Campus Ministry. Natalie and her husband Danny live in San Diego with their three children Connor (6yrs), Kate (3.5yrs), and Makenna (10mo).