Once your newborn has their days and nights on track, it’s time to start implementing a proper sleep environment. Here are some tips on how to make this happen! Pro tip: if you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s no need to do this all at once! One step at a time is just fine. Overall, we suggest these things be in place by the time your baby is 3 months old.
1. Use the Same Bed for Nighttime and Naptime
It’s best to have your baby sleep in the same place both at night and for naptime. This can be a bassinet, crib, or pack ’n play. This helps give your child her cues that it’s time to sleep; remember, babies need routine.
2. Use a Flat, Stationary Bed
Your baby will have better, more restorative sleep on a flat, stationary surface. This is in line with recommendations set by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Swing, stroller, and car seat sleeping result in poorer quality sleep, as movement and vibrations can force the brain into a lighter sleep state. Additionally, the AAP recommends that sleeping on a flat, stationary bed is safest for infants.
3. Keep Your Baby’s Bed Free of Any Toys or Blankets
The AAP recommends that a baby under the age of 12 months have a sleep area free of any toys, bumpers, or loose blankets—both to prevent distraction, and to keep your little one safe.
4. At Nighttime, Make Your Baby’s Room As Dark as Possible
Babies tend to hone in on any type light, which can keep them awake longer or awaken them between sleep cycles. Additionally, circadian rhythms can be disrupted by any small amount of light during sleep time. There should be no glowing lights in your baby’s room, or even outside light peeking through windows or doors, if possible. This includes baby products with LED or any sort of light that indicates the product is “on” (diaper warmers, baby monitors, cool mist humidifiers). Black out these little lights in your baby’s room with black electrical tape or masking tape.
5. Make Your Baby’s Room Quiet
We know that total silence is near impossible for most people, so we recommend using a noise machine for your baby’s room. White noise will help eliminate outside noises, and can also serve as a cue to your baby that it’s time to sleep. And be sure to use the white noise setting—not the other options like waves, crickets, rain, etc. These other noises can keep part of the brain awake and therefore result in poorer quality sleep. Note: Soft lullaby music is okay to use during a bedtime routine but for restful, restorative sleep, white noise is best.
Pro tip: I highly recommend Marpac Dohm (as does the National Sleep Foundation).
6. Make Your Baby’s Room Cool
Children, like adults, sleep better in cooler temperatures. Your baby’s room temperature should be anywhere from 68 to 72 degrees while sleeping. But won’t my baby be cold? you may ask. After all, following AAP safe sleep guidelines, you’ll have no loose blankets in the crib. That’s what sleep sacks are for. They’re a great way to keep your child warm once the swaddle is gone.