When parents are starting to tackle their little love’s sleep issues, thoughts often go straight to quick tricks or routines and schedules. But it’s really important not to overlook the environment. After all, there could be things about the bedroom that might sabotage all the hard work you put into changing your child’s sleep habits – so it’s best to cover all your bases.
Here are some of the top suggestions that I always share with my clients to help make the nursery as conducive to sleep as possible.
1. Keep it as dark as possible, both overnight and during naps. This means no nightlights or ceiling projectors because even the smallest amount of light can be too stimulating during a brief arousal between sleep cycles. Blackout curtains or blinds are well worth the investment. You can even pick up cheap paper blackout shades from Home Depot to get started.
Lots of baby products have blue lights built in, which (ironically) are the most stimulating and counterproductive to sleep. If your sound machine or monitor has a small “on” indicator light, try covering it with a piece of tape to eliminate the extra light in the room.
Side note: If you have an older child who is afraid of the dark, go with an old-fashioned nightlight with a bulb that puts off a yellowish light.
2. No toys in the crib, except for a single security item like a blanket or lovey (based on the child’s age and your personal comfort level). The crib should be a relaxing place for rest, so having a lot of toys in the crib could be confusing and make it seem more like playtime than time for sleep.
Bonus: If you’re hoping to encourage an attachment to a security item to help with self-soothing, try leaving it in the crib. This will create a positive association between the sleeping space and bedtime because your baby will be happy to see it since it won’t be available all day for play.
3. If you’re using a sound machine, keep it on ALL night. It will be easier for your child to resettle and go back to sleep if the conditions he or she went to sleep in are the same during a wake-up.
If you’d like to talk more about the big picture and how to get your little one sleeping independently through the night, send me a note through my contact form. I’d love to help!