When I was expecting my first child, I wanted her room to look just like the magazine photos – beautiful hand carved crib, coordinated crib sheet set with bumper pads and quilt, matching mobile, lamp and draperies, and cute stuffed toys and decorative wall coverings for her to look at. Little did I know that many of these things are not conducive to sleep, let alone safe. If you are decorating a new nursery, or you want to upgrade your child’s sleep environment to help them sleep better (and save some money!), implement these 5 simple tips to create an ideal child sleep environment.
It’s important to always follow safety guidelines when it comes to your child’s sleep environment. Make sure the crib is in good condition with no loose screws. Avoid the use of bumper pads, blankets or pillows as they can be a suffocation risk. Make sure the mattress is firm and fits the crib properly with no gaps between the mattress and the rails, and make sure the crib sheet is fitted to the mattress snugly. Those coordinated crib bedding sets are adorable, but not the best option for an infant.
Children sleep better when they are dressed warmly and the sleep environment is a cool, comfortable temperature. Keep the sleep environment at a temperature around 20 degrees Celsius. If you are worried that your child may not be warm enough, use a sleep sack instead of blankets. I love sleep sacks because they are a safe way to keep your child warm, and they help prevent children from climbing out of the crib. As an added bonus, just putting my kids in their sleep sacks indicates to them that it’s time to sleep, which helps them relax.
Dark As Possible
You want to make sure your child’s sleep environment is a dark as possible. When there is no light, the brain is sent a message to release melatonin, a sleep inducing hormone. It acts like a natural sedative to help us get drowsy and fall asleep. Even a little bit of light can stop the release of melatonin, thus waking up your little snuggle bug. Limit the use of night lights to night feedings, put up some room blackout blinds to block out any natural light, and reduce any hallway light from coming through the door. If you have an early riser, blocking out morning light may be all he needs to sleep later in the morning.
Your child’s sleep environment should be quiet to eliminate distractions and help them stay soundly asleep. If your child’s sleep environment is noisy, you can help block out any outside noise by using a white noise machine. It’s also been shown to help calm fussy babies as it mimics similar sounds to the womb. You can use a white noise machine, a white noise CD, or even a fan. Just make sure that whatever you choose is portable in case your child needs the white noise to fall asleep while travelling. You can use music as part of the soothing process, but avoid using any type of music while your child sleeps, as it may be too complex and impede the brain from falling into deep sleep.
Remove all Distractions
When your child is in their sleep environment, all you want them to think about it sleep. Flashing lights, toys, aquariums and mobiles can be very distracting and actually delay sleep for you child, which we want to avoid. Depending on your child’s age many toys pose as a SIDS risk, so it’s best to keep toys in the toy room.
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