One of the most exciting things on our to-do lists when we find out a baby is on its way is decorating the nursery. Visualizing, pinning, shopping, purchasing and placing – I love it all!!! Did you know there are things you can do to help their nursery communicate sleep? For infants, we want there to be a big difference between day and night. For babies 4 months and older to toddlers, we aim for every sleep session (naps and night sleep) to feel different than awake time.
Here are some sleep promoting tips to consider when thinking about their sleep space.
Darken the room for sleep sessions
Darkening shades are my number one recommendation for your nursery. Opening the shades in the morning and letting the light shine in shows them that the sleep session has ended and closing the shades to calm and darken the space clearly communicates that something has changed and it is time for sleep. With time and consistency of cueing sleep and wake time with the environment, your little one will start to understand what these cues mean. It is a wonderful non-verbal teaching tool!
Infants, birth to around 4 months old, are typically able to fall asleep and reach a restorative level of rest in a light environment so no need to stress about darkening the space for naps. At around the 4 month mark is the age where babies begin to produce melatonin and form specific stages of their sleep cycles. Sunlight can suppress our bodies natural production of melatonin so it is around the 3 to 4 month mark that naps in a dark room are beneficial to supporting our babies in reaching sleep that is as restorative as possible. It can also assist them in longer naps as it can be easier to go from one sleep cycle to the next without fully waking up.
Here are some of my favorite shades for sleep – – https://amzn.to/2Gpe1R3
Consider White Noise
When our babies are born they exit a space that was filled with noise (heartbeat, blood rhythmically rushing through veins, etc) and enter our world that is much more quiet. Shushing and white noise is more familiar to them than this new silence. A great thing to incorporate in their sleep space is white noise. As they get older, we can use this white noise as an environmental cue that it is time for sleep. Turning it on before a sleep session and off after can pair this calming noise to the behavior of sleep.
There are a lot of different white noise makers. You can spend anywhere between $20 and $200, depending on the brand name but I have done the research and testing and here are my 2 favorites.
A great room temperature for sleep is 68 to 72 degrees. We want to avoid a room that is too hot for many reasons including level of comfortability, SIDS risk and more. For rooms that tend to be warmer, safely adding a fan on the other side of the room (somewhere where it is not blowing directly on baby) can be helpful!
What did families do before video monitors?? Ha! I know they made it through the baby and toddlers years just fine but this is a modern convenience that I cannot pass up. Having a video on our babies often makes parents feel better knowing that can see what is going on at any given time without having to creep in and risk the floor creak that inevitably wakes baby at the worst time. Anyone been there??
Having the ability to look at your baby during sleep sessions can also help during the sleep teaching process. Some babies cry out in their sleep and aren’t actually awake yet. The video helps us see this! Some babies have a comfy position and are working their way into it to independently fall asleep. The video helps us see this (and cheer them on when they are almost there). Some Mommas just want to sit on the couch and watch an episode of Real Housewives of Anywhere while knowing that even though their baby is asleep upstairs, they can see them right next to them (No judgement! Every Mommy needs some moments to restore). The video helps us here too! A video monitor can help in the baby year but also through the toddler years.
Two of my favorite video monitors are
Another monitor that has become very popular in giving parents peace of mind in the early stages is the Owlet Baby Monitor. This monitor safely straps to your baby’s foot and monitors their heartbeat. Parents sleep soundly knowing their baby is constantly monitored and they will be immediately notified if there are any issues in this area. This is an AMAZING product!
Having multiple light options is a great idea in a nursery. A bright light allows you to go in the room during awake time and spend time in there unrelated to sleep. Reading books, playing with puzzles, stacking blocks and other play activities in the room can help build their feeling of safety and security in that space as they grow and their cognitive level of understanding continues to grow.
Having a dim light option (closet light, lamp with low watt bulb, etc) is wonderful for sleep routines. Turning the dim light on as one of the first steps of their bedtime routine calms the space and environmentally communicates that it is almost time for sleep without having to fully turn the lights off (which would say, sleep time!).
Things to Avoid
As you walk the aisles of Target you will find many pretty musical and light up items that are screaming “put me in your nursery” and “this will calm your baby to sleep”. Unfortunately, many of these do the exact opposite. My suggestion for you is to avoid any of the items that project starts or pictures onto the ceiling as they can be very distracting at sleep time. When it comes to noise, I highly suggest sticking to white noise and avoiding musical items like mobiles that play nursery songs or sound machines set to the lullaby option. We want any noise at sleep time to assist in getting from one sleep cycle to the next and have consistent noise level, rhythm and tone.
If you’re ready to teach sleep in the beautiful nursery you have made for your baby, click below to get started today!
***Disclaimer – This blog contains affiliate links. I do make a profit off of purchased products without raising the price to you at all! I carefully chose items before promoting them and only promote items I would use myself.