As a busy mum of two under two, I cannot even count the number of times well intentioned friends and family members suggested sleeping my precious newborn bundles in a bright room with lots of noise. “If you do this now, they will sleep anywhere later” they told me over and over, and as a naive young mum I thought that that sounded GREAT! The reality was not so simple, by the time the dreaded four-month sleep regression came to town, I had a catnapping, cranky little demon on my hands, who woke every hour through the night. I spent countless hours as a big ball of tears on the living room floor. I just could not understand why my baby couldn’t sleep. What on earth am I doing wrong I asked myself on the regular? Well, I can tell you now, that not having a consistent sleep environment, conducive to beautiful relaxing sleep was my number one problem!
So, what do I need to do to my bubbies sleep space to promote sleep glorious sleep I hear you ask? Well for starters, throw all that bright, noisy room nonsense right out the window! Do you like sleeping with the sun beaming down on top of you while a madwoman rigorously vacuums around your bed? (if you do, that’s cool, I’m not here to judge) but I do however expect that most of you sleep deprived parents out there are all shouting a big resounding NO. Well, nor do your babies. The stimulus overload is enough to make them literally want to shut their little brains off and hibernate. Which, believe it or not, is not a healthy approach to promoting healthy sleep habits moving forward.
In order to set up a beautiful sleep space for your baby, ask yourself, what is my ideal sleep environment. For me, it would be very dark, a comfortable 20 degrees and snug, with the sound of rain pattering down. Sounds good right? Well this is also heaven to a baby.
So what you want to do, is start by ensuring the room is as dark as possible, you can install block out blinds, or for all of you gorgeous renters out there you could purchase something similar to the Gro Anywhere blind (https://grocompany.com.au/product/gro-anywhere-blind/). There is a magical hormone Melatonin which is produced by a little gland called the “Pineal Gland” which is the size of a corn kernel and located in your brain. This hormone helps us to know when to sleep and when to be awake. The most important piece of information I will ever tell you about melatonin is that it is only produced in the dark! So, the reason we sleep better in a dark room is pretty self-explanatory now right? Now babies don’t really produce their own melatonin until they are closer to 3 months, however fostering healthy habits very early is key and helps the transition to crating their own sleep hormones to be a smooth one.
Next, try and ensure you keep the temperature of the room around 20 degrees swaddle that newborn! We recommend the use of the swaddle because it helps to switch off a baby’s “moro reflex” or falling reflex as most people refer to it. This helps to prevent them from startling themselves awake. Keep them swaddled for several months until they are rolling independently (Swaddling becomes a safety hazard to rolling babies). I have heard so many mums and dads tell me that their baby hates the swaddle, but I am yet to meet someone who hasn’t converted back to a believer in the swaddle after seeing how magical it really is.
Finally, keep that room nice and quiet aside from some white noise. There are so many machines out there which provide multiple different sounds. For your newborn I recommend something like static, ocean waves, shushing or a heartbeat. Keep the sound loud and steady and have it playing all the way through naps and night sleep. The use of white noise is proven to be effective in helping babies to sleep for the first 12 months of life.
Do all of this for your beautiful baby and rest assured, you are one step closer to wonderful sleep!