One of the easiest things we can address when looking at sleep is the room where your baby sleeps. If there is something that is distracting or disturbing your baby from settling down for naps during the day, or getting ready for bed at night then there could be a simple tweak that could make all the difference. Here are the things we recommend:
Total darkness in the room where your baby sleeps is essential. The darker the better - particularly for the early risers! Melatonin is the “sleepy” hormone that our bodies need and is aided by darkness. Having a dark space also helps to teach our babies about daytime and night time - avoiding those dreaded "split nights" where a baby can be awake for hours during the night. A well-fitted blackout blind or curtains are ideal, if this is outside of budget, a travel one is a good option.
A Clear Cot
Keep your baby's cot totally clear, so no loose pillows, cushions, bedding, soft toys, etc. This is primarily for your baby's safety and is in line with the Lullaby Trust's safe sleep guidelines. But it will also help with building the right associations with their cot and sleep space in general. This is a calm, quiet space, a retreat that will be there throughout their lives. A place where they will relax and sleep rather than play.
The right temperature
The Lullaby Trust's Safer Sleep Advice recommends a room temperature of 16-20 degrees Celsius. This is to ensure our babies do not overheat during the night but it also works positively for encouraging sleep. Our bodies naturally sleep better when the room is slightly cooler.
Having a room thermometer is great for keeping an eye on room temperature and some baby monitor cameras and motion detectors also have temperature readings on them. During the summer keep bedrooms cool by keeping windows open but with curtains and blinds closed.
A Night Light
Most parents will find they need some form of light in their baby's room for the period before bedtime, etc. A red or amber based light is the best at not stimulating your baby so those are the best ones to have. The light from electronic devices like phones, iPads and television can be particularly disruptive to sleep so if you are trying to help sleep in your household try to avoid screen time for a couple of hours before bedtime.