Wondering what you can do to help your baby sleep soundly? You’re not alone. Many new parents find those initial days and months challenging, so we’ve enlisted the help of sleep consultant Jessica Carrol to get you off on the right foot. In this guest blog, she provides her top tips for creating the perfect sleep environment – so both bub and you can benefit from more Zs.
People always ask me, “What can I do from day one to help my baby sleep well? What are some positive sleep habits I can instill early on?”
Of course, in the early days, it’s all about connecting with your bub and getting to know each other so it’s best to avoid a strict feed and sleep routine. These routines can be overwhelming in the early days and impractical with an unpredictable newborn. Instead, I like to give my clients what I believe to be the fundamentals, or the basics, of setting up a sleep environment that best promotes sleep and will help with their settling efforts.
In the early days, your little one has yet to develop their own body clock, so there can be some confusion between day and night. It can be beneficial to aim for some day sleep to occur in lighter environments to help distinguish between day and night. From 6 weeks the residual maternal melatonin stores have begun wearing off. Darkness helps promote the production of our natural sleep hormone, melatonin, so it’s important we help this production by exposing them to darkness for all naps and overnight sleep.
Darkness can also become an important factor to help improve early morning rising, as light is one of the external cues that resets our body clock. If our body is exposed to light early in the morning on a regular basis, this can be enough to reset our body clock into thinking that this is the time to wake! So, if you have light creeping in during naps or early mornings I would look to improve this. There are a range of temporary and permanent products to help create a dark and calming sleep space for your child.
White noise is a positive sleep association that will also become a fantastic cue for sleep. Including it during your wind down will help prepare and “set the stage” for sleep for your little one. In the early days, especially, it can help recreate the environment and sounds of the womb that they are used to. As they get older it is also great for blocking out external noises that may disturb their sleep.
It is important to have the white noise playing continuously throughout naps and overnight sleep to be most effective. For reference, in terms of volume, we are aiming for as loud as a running shower.
Setting an ideal room temperature is imperative in supporting our little one’s sleep – being too hot or too cold can greatly affect their ability to fall and remain asleep. Opting for a sleeping bag or sleep suit is a great tool to help regulate our little one’s body temperature, and it aligns with the safe sleep practice of not having any loose bedding or blankets in the sleep space. It can also be useful for a toddler in a bed who may find it difficult to keep on a doona, so opting for a sleep suit may be a more suitable option.
The ideal room temperature we are aiming for is between 18-20 degrees with appropriate clothing layers for the weather. Be mindful that our body has a natural dip in temperature around 3am, therefore, if not warm enough it can cause some waking. I highly recommend investing in a good room thermometer to help remove the guesswork!
Of course, there are many other elements that can affect sleep but ensuring you have the right sleep environment is your first checklist to address. Written by Jessica Carroll from The Holistic Bub
About the Author
Jessica Carroll is a qualified sleep consultant, nurse and mother who has a passion for working with families to achieve better sleep. Through her business The Holistic Bub, she helps educate, empower and encourage families on their sleep journey to help restore a sense of calm and rest within their household. So they can not only survive parenthood but thrive.