If you’re a sleep obsessed parent like myself, you have probably read up on how to create an ideal peaceful sleep environment for your child. There are some basic things you can do for the first few years of life that will optimize the probability of your child sleeping for longer stretches in the day time and night time.
Create a dark cave like environment. How would you prefer to sleep, in a light bright room or a dark cave? Generally babies start to sleep longer stretches at night before day time sleep consolidates, but if you create the same circumstances for naps as you do for night sleep, your child will start to associate a darkened room with sleep. There are sleep hormones that are released when we are in the dark which reiterates the benefits of a darkened room for all sleep. If you don’t already have blackout shades or curtains, I highly recommend investing in some such as cellular shades, cordless blackout shades and Blackout EZ window covers.
Babies sleep best in a cool environment. It’s important to monitor the temperature in your child’s bedroom for a few reasons. For starters, the ideal temperature in a child’s room will assist in creating a peaceful night’s sleep for your child. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics there are known risks of overheating being associated with SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). If your child is being swaddled, wearing a sleep suit or sleep sack, all the more reason to monitor your child’s room for overheating. Most baby monitors have the temperature built into it, but if not, you can purchase a digital thermometer to keep in your child’s room and even hook it up to your cell phone. The ideal temperature is 68-72 degrees F (20-22 degrees c) to ensure a healthy sleep environment. Some babies overheat easily and you can tell based on their discomfort, sweating and faster heart rate. Other babies tend to run cooler and it’s evidenced by their skin color turning purplish, their hands and nose may also be cold to the touch. Take the time to get to know your baby best and adjust their attire accordingly with the room temperature. My baby ran hot and we found putting her in just a diaper with the Baby Merlin Magic Sleep Suit, to be perfect for her. You can also put on a fan during the warmer months to add the extra comfort of a cooling environment, with the benefit of additional white noise.
Noise level. Unfortunately, this is something that we can’t always control 100%. Maybe you live on a noisy block with a fire station down the street (that’s me) or you have neighbors that are up late at night; those are factors we have to work around sometimes on our quest to creating a peaceful sleep environment. I have always read, researched and found personal benefits to having a white noise sound machine on in the hallway every time my family sleeps. We all sleep better with the white noise machine on, drowning out the garbage trucks in the early morning hours or when our dog decides to bark in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. What’s also amazing about a white noise machine is that it is a healthy sleep association for your child that is portable. If you go on vacation, you bring it with you and the whole family cues in to sleep seamlessly. We recently returned from a week away in the Caribbean and my daughter slept like a champ with our sound machine. The best sound machine on the market is Marpac Dohm.
These three suggestions are useful as your child goes through many sleep transitions over the first few years of life. Think about all of the changes that happen with your child’s sleep with naps transitions (4-3-2-1-none), illnesses, vacations and going into a big kid bed. If as a parent you are able to maintain consistency in the temperature of your child’s room, keep a darkened mood lighting and use a white noise machine, all of those transitions that take place will be smoother for the whole family.