How to optimize your baby’s sleep environment
This article is part of New Kind’s postpartum doula’s best sleep tips.
In the first few weeks of their life, your baby can fall asleep pretty much anywhere. But when they become more attuned to the world around them, their sleep environment becomes a big factor in their ability to sleep.
First, let’s start with some myth busting. Many parents are worried that their baby will become so reliant on the *perfect* sleep environment that they can’t sleep without it. Luckily, this is one worry you can check off your list. By removing distractions and setting up an ideal sleep environment at home, your baby can gradually get better at falling and staying asleep in their crib.
Once they master that skill, they will be able to do it elsewhere – grandma’s house, daycare, hotels, etc. Yes, it may take them some time to adjust to a new sleep environment, but that’s the case for all babies. Once they adjust, they’ll be able to put their solid sleep skills to good use.
- Darkness: If you haven’t yet installed blackout curtains, now is the time to upgrade. Darkness tells the bra in that it’s time to rest and encourages the natural release of melatonin. If you’re not ready to commit to installing curtains, try travel blackout curtains.
- White noise: Did you know that the womb is about as noisy as a vacuum cleaner?? That’s why babies find white noise to be soothing. It also has the added benefit of drowning out other background noises that may distract your baby. We like to place a white noise machine like this one several feet from the We recommend skipping features like timers, music, or nature sounds. Continuous white noise is what you want!
- Cool temperature: Our bodies naturally cool off when we sleep. If the room is already comfortably cool, we can fall asleep faster – babies too! Aim for 68º-72º.
- Swaddle: Swaddling helps prevent baby’s startle reflex and, for many babies, is very soothing. We recommend using a swaddle that zips and/or velcros so you can get a safe, snug fit. We really like this one! Your baby will remain in the swaddle until they are showing signs of being able to roll over (typically between 4 - 6 months).
- Sleep sack: After your baby can roll over and transitions out of their swaddle, you can start using a sleep sack. Most babies like the cozy feeling, and it’s safer than using loose blankets in the crib. These sleep sacks are super soft, durable, and come in adorable colors.
- Always put your baby to sleep on their back.
- During nighttime feeds and diaper changes, keep light and sound to a minimum.
- Create a consistent bedtime routine that includes all of the above, in an order that works for you. Your baby will start to associate these elements with sleep.
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