An Optimal Sleep Environment
Planning for the arrival of a baby puts all parents-to-be in full-on baby mode. Research time! Along the way, you may have noticed just how many new “gadgets” and “gizmos” there are on the market for babies. Look, a swing that moves and jiggles! How cute are these flashy mobiles and crib aquariums! Or what about the light projector that shines moons and stars on the ceiling? The list goes on—hours of entertainment for baby to enjoy. But what happens when it comes to baby’s bedtime?
Sure all of these super fun accessories can keep your baby amused for hours, but when it comes to bedtime, baby needs some quiet time. All of the toys and trinkets have a time and a place, but they should not be in your baby’s bedroom during sleep times.
Try to keep your baby’s sleep environment simple—very simple. The less sleep distractions, the better. Limit the aquarium to playtime, and trust me—your baby will enjoy it all the more.
So how can you create the best sleep environment for your baby? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1. Lighting — Rather lack of lighting. That’s right, babies sleep better in the dark. You don’t believe me? Think about it, your newborn has been in pitch dark for nine months already—he/she likes it! In scientific terms, darkness helps babies to develop their circadian rhythms, and it’s those rhythms that regulate their sleep/wake cycle. Melatonin, a hormone that’s mainly produced in the dark, helps to maintain this sleep/wake cycle. So say goodbye to nightlights, and hello to black out blinds!
2. Temperature – Babies like it cold. Surprised? Well I don’t mean freezing. The ideal room temperature is between 17 and 20 degrees Celsius. If you notice your baby’s hands and feet are on the colder side during sleep, don’t panic because that is normal. Use the tried-tested-and-true method of checking the temperature of your baby’s abdomen or neck. Too warm? Take off a layer. Too chilly? Add a layer.
Keep in mind to rid your baby’s crib free of extra blankets, thick sheets and bummer pads (as per sleep safety guidelines). A simple sleep sack that’s breathable is all you need.
3. Toys – Remember, less is more! A small teddy bear or stuffy is OK, but try to keep distractible items out of the crib. So, no to toy cars, Lego (yes, I’ve seen it!), crib aquariums and singing/dancing mobiles. No! Distraction-free leads to boredom. Boredom leads to sleep. Sleep leads to a happy baby!
4. No TV’s or Electronics — Just think, how many of your friends that have TV’s in their rooms go to sleep at a reasonable time? But Grey’s Anatomy is on! I just wanted to check the sports highlights. Can this miracle product erase my wrinkles? Of course, it may not be a problem now, but when your baby turns into a child and then a teenager, consider the pros and cons when they beg for a TV or computer in their room.
5. Noise – Do you have creaky hardwood floors, a loud dishwasher, maybe a barking dog on your block? Do you remember the last the time you were almost asleep and then BANG — something woke you up? It’s way harder to get back to sleep once you’ve been startled awake. Have you thought about a sound machine? They can help block out background noise which can lead to peaceful sleep for your baby.
6. Room Decor – It’s exciting as a parent to create a beautiful space for your baby to come home to – so go for it! Have fun with it, but just don’t go wild and crazy with attractions (like a bouncy castle). Remember to keep it simple and calm.