Each baby has its own comfortable crib. However, a good crib won’t be enough to make your baby’s sleeping environment ideal. If you think about it, you also can’t place a bed in any room or empty space and call it a bedroom. You need a proper mattress, nice, heavy curtains, maybe a good light or a couple of candles in order to really feel that you should rest in this room.
The same is true for your baby. You need to think of multiple things in order to offer your kid a perfect place to sleep in. If your baby’s sleeping conditions aren’t optimal (or at least nearly optimal), both you and your baby might have plenty of sleepless nights.
Since babies need to sleep at least 14 hours to 17 hours a day in order to have a steady, healthy development, not providing your baby with appropriate sleeping environment might not be the thing you would like to skip.
Babies should be able to get almost continuous 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night, with short breaks for feeding. You will probably wake up anyway a couple of times during the night to feed your baby and put it back to sleep. But not providing an appropriate sleep environment might double your baby’s awakenings during sleep, which will also affect your sleep and further worsen your overall sleep quality.
The interrupted sleep can lead to sleep deprivation which as time passes will affect your mind, mood and body.
All in all, arranging your baby’s sleeping environment right will bring benefits to both you and your baby. Additionally, paying attention to these details won’t only make your baby sleep like an angel, but it will also decrease the risk of the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). So, let’s take a look at all the factors that you have to think about when setting your kid’s first sleeping environment.
Setting The Temperature Right: Newborns don’t have the same ability of adapting to temperature change, as adults do. That’s why it is important to pay attention to the temperature inside your baby’s bedroom. Not only, but studies have shown that there is a link between overheating and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Therefore, setting the temperature right is the first step that you need to do to provide your baby with peaceful nights.
The ideal temperature for babies to sleep is around 68 – 72 F ( 20 – 22.2 Celsius). If the room is too hot or too cold, the baby will show you signs. For instance, if it’s too cold in your baby’s room, your baby’s hands or nose will probably be cold to touch. The sign that it’s way too cold is if you see your baby’s lips turn blue.
On the other hand, if your baby is sweating, has a faster heart rate than usual or you notice its hair is damp, it means that it is too hot in your baby’s room.
In order to skip reading your baby’s body signs of an inappropriate sleeping temperature, buy a thermometer and have no worries if the room is too hot or too cold. Also, make sure you don’t exaggerate with under or overdressing your baby during sleep. Setting the temperature right won’t only guarantee your baby’s longer and steadier sleep, but yours as well.
Adjusting The Lighting: This is probably very intuitive, but sleeping in a dark room is what we all need in order to rest better, and the same is true for your baby. Our body’s circadian rhythm is dictated by sunlight, and our sleeping hormones are secreted in the dark. One of these hormones is Melatonin, whose levels increase when it’s dark and decrease when the Sun is up.
Invest in quality, blackout shades that will practically give your baby’s room cave-like lighting. You don’t even have to spend much on the shades, as there are a lot of online deals you can find. Alternatively, you can also look up DIY ways to darken your baby’s room.
Regulating your kid’s sleep according to natural sunlight will establish good sleeping habits from an early age and regulate its circadian rhythm properly.
However, this doesn’t mean that your baby won’t be able to nap in spaces that are not completely dark. The conditions in which your baby sleeps don’t always have to be perfect, but it will definitely be beneficial if your baby gets at least one, long session of sleep in a dark room every day. Other naps don’t have to necessarily occur in the complete dark.
Dampen Outside Noises: Some babies don’t wake up with noises coming from outside, but others wake up as soon as they hear a sudden sound. If that’s your case, it might be wise to consider buying a white noise machine.
A white noise machine dampens any loud sounds coming from the environment by producing a sound similar to the one your baby used to hear in the womb.
Alternatively, you can place a fan in your baby’s room (but not too close to or directed straight to the crib). A fan produces a calming sound that will keep your baby asleep, and it will also work great to cool down the temperature during hot days.
Cut Off All Visual Distractions: Take all screens out of your baby’s room. Smartphones, TV’s, tablets and all other types of devices emit lights that will stimulate the baby’s brain. Although these lights might not wake your baby up, they will confuse your baby’s brain and lead to poorer sleep quality.
Therefore, establish a rule that there’s no room for mobile phones and other types of devices where your baby sleeps.
Safety Measures For A Sound Sleep: Everything else won’t quite matter if your baby’s sleep environment isn’t safe enough. Therefore, you have to make sure that everything that’s in your baby’s bed is 100% safe. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nothing should be in the crib except for the baby, not even those soft, stuffed toys your baby loves. Apparently, these soft objects, as well as loose bedding or wires from devices, can increase the risk of suffocation or strangulation during your baby’s sleep.
Also, make sure your baby has a firm mattress to sleep on. Adjust the height of the mattress, so there are no chances of your baby falling off the crib.
Written By: Kristina Lalovic is the editor of Colossal Sleep, a website about healthy sleep, sleeping disorders and sleep-related problems people commonly face in their lifetimes. She used to be the alarm-snoozer for a long time, until she started paying more attention to her sleep and sleeping patterns. Sleeping well changed the way she feels each day, which is why she developed a passion for writing about sleep and understanding how our sleep really works.