Kim West, LCSW-C, also known as The Sleep Lady, is our go-to guru when it comes to anything safety and sleep related. She’s here today to share her super helpful tips for creating a safe and sleep-friendly nursery.
When I was expecting my first child I began to dream of making our extra bedroom into a nursery for our firstborn. I thought about the color of the walls, the fabrics I preferred, and where to position the furniture. My initial thoughts were not about creating a safe and sleep-friendly nursery, to be honest with you! That came later. But really, it is far more important than where the dresser goes!
There are a few key ways you can make your baby’s nursery safe AND sleep-enhancing. Safety always comes first, so let’s start there.
- Choose a firm mattress, topped with a snugly-fitted, smooth sheet. Avoid bumpers as they can be a safety hazard.
- Maintain an uncluttered sleep surface: no pillows, loose blankets or toys in the sleep space.
- Insist on a non-smoking environment for your child’s sleep space.
- Check that there are no cords, hanging picture frames or art, house plants, or other items within 3 feet of your child’s crib or sleep space.
Making a Sleep-Friendly Environment:
- Keep it Dark. Consider adding blackout curtains or blinds to your child’s windows. A newborn’s internal clock is not developed yet so we have to be their external clock by making their room dark when it’s time to sleep. Along with following a soothing bedtime routine, a dark room will help your newborn’s body to secrete melatonin, the drowsy making hormone, and get ready for sleep.
- Use a White-Noise Machine. White noise is very soothing and helpful for babies because it is similar to the noise they hear for months inside the womb. It also drowns out outside noises such as toddlers playing or activity outside the home. When shopping for a device consider one with multiple sound options and that works continuously throughout the night.
- Set a Comfortable Temperature. Often we overlook the nursery’s temperature but this is an important factor for your child’s sleep. In general, we all sleep better in cool temps and, because babies are unable to regulate their body temperature entirely, they are dependent on us to set the environment for them. This includes their clothing as well. The thermostat should be between 68-72 degrees. If needed, utilize a fan or AC unit in the summer as well as keeping the curtains closed during the day to block the hot sun from warming up the room. Instead of a blanket, use a wearable blanket or sleep bag to keep your baby warm and safe.
Soothing Surroundings for Easier Sleep:
Go ahead and enjoy making your nursery as lovely as possible. But, remember the main point of the nursery is for your baby’s sleep!
- Use Soft Colors. Choose soft, neutral, or pale colors for the decor.
- Dim the Lights. A night-light may come in handy for a late-night check-in and installing a dimmer on a lamp may help while nursing or for changing a diaper as unobtrusively as possible.
- Remove Toys. While mobiles are beautiful to look at over a crib, they can be overly stimulating, particularly when done in bright colors. Consider using one over a pack-n-play or bassinet when your child is awake. Also, keeping the room tidy and uncluttered will help keep distractions down once your baby becomes alert of his surroundings. With this in mind, keep exciting and favorite toys out of his line of sight while in his sleep space.
Setting up a safe and sleep-friendly nursery is not too hard to do and it goes a long way toward helping your child get the sleep he needs.