Help your baby sleep better
How to create a great sleep environment for your newborn
Congratulations on your new bundle of joy! Bringing a newborn baby home is a beautiful moment to remember. You’ve most likely gotten everything ready, their clothes, their nursery, all the essentials. But you may be stuck on how to create a sleep environment that works for you and your baby.
Here are some ways to create a great sleep space for your newborn:
- Limit distractions
You would want to limit any distractions, especially as they become more and more aware of their surroundings. Anything they may be able to reach, touch or play with, or could possibly keep them awake rather than inviting them to go to sleep, should be kept at a minimum.
- Introduce darkness
Darkness releases the sleep hormone “Melatonin” - so it’s a good idea to create a dark space when your baby is sleeping or going to sleep. It doesn’t have to be 100% dark - but dark enough so that your baby knows that it’s time to go to sleep.
- Calming light
While it is important to keep the room dark, some babies find a touch of red lighting (or another colour) calming and soothing. You could look for a sleep aid that provides this type of lighting.
- Sound machine
A lot of mums swear by sound machines! There are many different types of sound machines on the market. Most of them have a variety of options to choose from in terms of what sound you want projected. Ocean, rain, lullaby, or white noise are some popular choices. There are even sound machines that portray a “heartbeat” sound - this is perfect in the early days as your baby has spent the first nine months of their lives listening to your heartbeat from the inside. This could give them a sense of comfort.
- Swaddle up
Babies are born with the Moro (startle) reflex which when activated, gives them a sense of free fall and at times, could startle them. Swaddling your baby also helps with the “fourth trimester” by helping them transition to life outside the womb. They’ve spent so long in there swaddled up, no longer being in the womb is a big adjustment. You can opt for a zip up swaddle with arms up or arms down, or wrap your baby with a standard swaddle. Once your newborn moves on from needing to be swaddled, you can upgrade to a sleeping bag or sleep suit!
- Bath before bed
A lot of parents find bathing their babies before bed time helps to settle them. It also creates a sense of routine - your baby will start to associate bath time with bed time. They’ll come to realise that when they’re having a bath, bed time is next. Plus - this ensures that they’re going to bed clean and fresh. You could also use baby safe “sleep time” oils in the bath water, this usually smells like lavender which helps with sleep.
- Freshen up
Be sure to put your baby to sleep with a clean and dry nappy, dress them to suit the temperature in the room and clean bedding. If your baby has a dirty or wet nappy, is too hot or too cold, or can smell spit up or spilt milk on their bedding, they will most like not go to sleep well.
- Safe space
Always make sure to put your baby to sleep on their backs on a firm mattress, with nothing in the cot or bassinet, no excessive bedding, face uncovered and at the end of the bed.
Enjoy this moment in your life, babies are only little for such a short time. Lots of cuddles before bed time is definitely a must. A positive sleep environment can help set the tone for the next day and will help your baby to achieve healthy sleep habits.
By Sandra Gauci - Mum of four.