When looking at why our little ones aren't sleeping well at night (or day), we check their awake windows, the lengths and number of naps, and their bedtime routine. However, how often do we look at their sleep environment? Your little one's sleep environment is an essential part of them getting a good night's sleep. Just like we design our bedroom to be a relaxing place, it is imperative that we also make sure we set the scene for your child's slumber haven. Below are some tips on how you can do just that.
1. Control the light: Your little one's sleep environment should be as dark as possible. Blackout curtains are a great addition to their nursery in order to keep natural light from coming in through the window. Night lights should also be avoided (babies do not fear the dark, keep in mind that they spent 9 months in a womb.) Keeping your little one's bedroom dark for sleep times will help establish their circadian rhythms. It also allows the body to release melatonin; the sleep hormone responsible for assisting the body in controlling sleep/wake cycles.
It is normal for toddlers to start requesting a night light for comfort. In this case, it would be best to opt for warm lights rather than bright, cold lights.
2. Think calming colours: This may seem like a small detail, but choosing the right colours for your child's nursery can be a game-changer. Cool colours, such as blues and purples, or earth tones and blushes, help relax the mind and the body, while bright colours, such as yellows and oranges, can be overstimulating.
3. Tune it out: White noise can help block out noises coming from the outside or around the house. It is vital that you choose a white noise machine that is continuous (some machines automatically switch off after 30 minutes, resulting in your little one waking up soon after), and for it to be placed a minimum of 6 feet from your child's cot. The sound should be low and consistent.
4. Keep it safe: The AAP recommends having a firm mattress and keeping the cot clear of any loose bedding or toys (this includes comforters). It is also recommended to skip the cot bumper and pillows. This is important to keep your little one as safe as possible.
5. Keep your baby warm (but not too warm): The ideal temperature for sleep is 19-21C/ 69-73 F (consider purchasing a tabletop thermometer to monitor the room temperature). As stated above, loose blankets should be avoided. Instead, opt for a sleepsack, which will ensure that your little one stays warm throughout the night, without causing any safety hazards.
The above tips will help create a calming and safe sleep environment for your little one.