How I Created The Perfect Sleep Environment For My Baby
I don’t think anyone could have convinced me just how obsessed I’d be with sleep before I had my first baby. I mean, sure, I’d seen the parenting memes and (thought) I knew all about the exhaustion of the newborn days. But until you’re in it, it can be hard to totally GET it.
I’m Liesel Teen, L&D RN and the face behind the popular IG account and website, Mommy Labor Nurse. I’m passionate about supporting and educating mamas on their motherhood journeys — from conception through infancy. And I’m thrilled to be here today sharing a bit about baby sleep environments.
You see, one thing that I wish I’d paid more attention to while preparing for my first baby was creating an environment that was optimized for sleep!
I didn’t realize that there are a lot of external things you can do to help your little one clock more hours, bridge between sleep cycles, and even soothe themselves to sleep.
So today, I’m going to give you 6 things to include as you set up YOUR baby’s sleep space so that you’ve got the perfect sleep environment. And if you’re already in the throes of motherhood, it’s not too late to make a few changes to promote better sleep.
Must-Haves For The Perfect Sleep Environment
1) Blackout Curtains
I listed this must-have first for a reason — do not underestimate the power of darkness to promote sleep.
Blackout curtains make it possible to create a dark room no matter what time of day it is. I didn’t realize just how effective these were until I tried them myself.
At first, we didn’t have these set up, and I relied on regular blinds during nap time and nighttime sleep. After frustratingly short naps and super early wake ups (which I now know were due to sunlight), I decided to give blackout curtains a go.
And, girl. They work!
Some mamas go all out, blocking out every little source of light. Like, towel on the crack of the door, blankets over the top of the curtain rod, clothes-pinned crack between curtain panels, you get the idea.
This might be necessary if your child is very stimulated or distracted by light sources. But I find that a good set of blackout curtains does the trick for my littles.
2) Sound Machine For The Win
White noise is a really effective tool for helping newborns and babies (OK and some adults, hah!) sleep more soundly.
You see, the womb is actually pretty noisy for your little one. The sound of all your bodily functions is thought to be a lot like white noise.
Sound machines can help mimic that womb-like environment, which can help them sleep independently and bridge between sleep cycles. Pair it with a nice, tight swaddle for bonus points. 😉
3) A Safe Sleep Surface
OK, full disclosure that I use and love the Newton Baby mattress for both of my boys. I’ve been pretty open about my experience with postpartum anxiety, and a lot of that was related to baby sleep and a fear of suffocation.
I absolutely LOVE that the Newton Baby mattress is 100% breathable. As soon as it arrived, we did the breathe test, and I was so impressed.
For me, this peace of mind is worth its weight in gold and has for sure helped ME get more sleep while my baby is sleeping.
What’s more, when you are choosing a mattress for your baby’s crib, I encourage you to understand what the mattress is made of, potential exposure to toxins, and make sure it’s easy to clean!
4) Video Monitor
I am 100% team video monitor when it comes to a great sleep environment. Being able to see what my little one is doing when they're making noise is SO helpful when deciding if you should intervene.
Like us adults, babies wake throughout the night, and sometimes we as parents undermine their ability to resettle or bridge sleep cycles because we swoop in at the smallest peep.
With a video monitor, you can watch and see what’s going on with baby before deciding if they really are hungry or in need of mama.
5) Temperature Control
Basically, you just want to have a good sense of the temperature in baby’s sleeping space and have some control over it.
Obviously, you can’t just install their own little HVAC zone complete with thermostat (although, I’ve considered it), but a little wireless temperature sensor can be really helpful in planning what to dress baby in for sleep.
With enough OTHER reasons for baby to wake during the night, you don’t want them being too hot or too cold to be a factor if you can help it.
I might lump a humidifier into this category, too, because really dry air can also make sleep pretty uncomfortable.
6) A Dimmable Night-Light
The final element is a dimmable light. This is a game-changer for middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper changes.
It can be so easy to overstimulate baby with bright lights during the night. And, in reality, as you become a pro at latching baby, giving a bottle, or changing diapers, you really don’t need much light to get the job done!
I love my bedside table light that you can tap to turn on and dim. I’ve also seen some great plug-in night-lights with dimmer switches right on them. Oh! And you can even get smart light bulbs now that you can control right from your phone.
There are so many great options out there!
Better Sleep All Around
Ready to create the perfect sleep environment for YOUR baby?
All right, mama! I really hope the tips in this article gave you some ideas for your nursery. Believe me, I’m all about a cute and coordinated nursery, but don’t forget about function, too!
With these tips, you’ll be setting your baby up for better sleep, which in turn means better sleep for you. 😊
Liesel Teen is a labor and delivery nurse (L&D RN), mom of two, the face behind the popular pregnancy Instagram page @mommy.labornurse, and creator of the online childbirth class, Birth It Up. Birth is something she’s been passionate about for as long as she can remember, and she loves sharing her nursing knowledge to help mamas-to-be learn more about pregnancy, birth, and beyond.