A lot of the advice on developing good sleeping habits – whether we’re talking about a baby, a toddler, a teenager, or even an adult – has to do with creating a good sleep environment.
Our brain makes certain associations with our sleeping areas, which has a tremendous impact on our ability to sleep well consistently. Basically, if you’re comfortable and relaxed, free from unusual distractions and stimuli, your brain will easily be able to drift into a calm slumber.
I like to call this a “sleep sanctuary.”
So how do you create this kind of environment for your little one? Here are the three most important steps to take.
1) Create a Simple Environment
There’s certainly no shortage of wonderful toys and decorations to scatter about your baby’s room and crib.
However, when it comes to sleep time, these often just serve as distractions, stimulating your baby and making it much more difficult for them to relax and fall asleep.
While there are obviously going to be some toys around the room pretty much all the time, pay special attention to the simplicity of their crib. Remove all unnecessary items, including extra blankets and pillows, toys, cushions, and mobiles.
Not only will this help your baby relax, but it’s actually much safer for the baby, as well.
2) Keep It Dark & Cool
You’re probably aware of the psychological connection between darkness and sleep. A chemical called melatonin is released as our environments become darker, causing us to feel sleepy. This is why screen time right before bed can be so troublesome for children and adults alike – it tricks our brains into thinking it’s still daytime.
Babies can be especially susceptible to light, meaning you should keep your little one’s room as dark as possible. Consider purchasing some blackout curtains and think twice before buying that nightlight!
It’s also important not to overdress your baby, which not only will cause them to wake up but can actually be dangerous. Generally, a good rule of thumb is to keep babies’ rooms at 68 – 72 degrees Fahrenheit and dress them in only one layer.
3) Limit Noise & Activity
A big part of creating a sleep sanctuary is limiting the amount of activity that goes on in the room at night before they go to bed. That’s why for the hour or so before bedtime you should refrain from playing games and stimulating your baby’s senses any more than needed.
It’s also important to keep the noise down, though it is possible to keep things too quiet. It’s only natural that there will be some noise when your baby is sleeping, and you don’t want them to become accustomed only to sleeping in dead-quiet environments.
One great way to get them used to a little bit of noise while not distracting them from sleep is to use a white noise machine, which lots of parents use with great success.
Looking for Help with Your Baby’s Sleep?
I like to give away these sorts of tips to help as many parents as I can achieve great sleeping habits for their little ones. That said, sometimes you just need a little extra help. If you’d like to chat with me about your situation and how I can assist you, don’t hesitate to reach out for a chat.