Creating a Safe and Sleepy Environment for Baby

Kristina Brooks | May 26th 2015

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A key to establishing good sleep habits for your baby is making sure the environment is right. Here are some things to keep in mind when putting your little one sleep.

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Lie baby on his or her back

For the baby’s first year, or until they can turn over on their own, make sure they sleep on their back. This includes naps. Babies should never sleep with an adult, in a bed, or on a couch or chair. They should only sleep in their crib. That can help the baby associate it with deep nighttime sleep - when you’re really looking for peace and quiet.

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Adjust the lighting

Bright lights, even night lights, can signal the body that it’s time to wake up by halting the production of the melatonin hormone. This means your baby may have a harder time falling asleep. In the baby’s sleep area, use only dim lights, or put the nightlight in the hallway. If your baby wakes during the night, keep the room as dark as possible.

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Be aware of smells

Many people like to bring their baby home to a freshly painted and decorated nursery. However, paint, cleaners, and other foreign smells may irritate the baby, and keep them from sleeping soundly. Consider, at least for a while, sharing your room with your baby’s crib. They may be more comfortable when surrounded with your familiar scents. It also gives their nursery time to air out.

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Add a little noise

It may seem like an odd thing to do, but total silence can actually be disruptive to a baby. In the womb, babies are used to constant noise. Playing sounds of white noise  can be soothing to infants and help them sleep. As your child gets older, other ambient sounds or light music may be used.

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Keep baby on a firm, clear surface

Sure sure to only use a firm, safety-approved crib mattress, that isn’t stuffed with down or other soft fillings. Also keep a smooth surface by using only fitted sheets and bundling your baby in extra blankets. Although we like to get cozy at night, extra sheets are dangerous for a baby. Also remove all toys, bottles, soft objects and crib bumpers before bed or nap time.  

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Set the right temperature

As we sleep, our bodies tend to cool down. This is likewise true for babies. If the room is too warm, bodies have to work harder to keep cool, and that can disrupt sleep. Try to keep your baby’s sleep area between 65 and 72 degrees, even if you’re sharing a room. Also check for perspiration or skin that’s warm to the touch. That can mean your baby is too hot.

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Dressing for bed

Since the room temperature may be a bit cooler than in the daytime, you might be tempted to bundle your baby for sleep. Instead, dress your baby in only one layer more than what an adult would wear for sleep. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests a one-piece sleeper or wearable blanket, and advises that you leave any extra blanket out of the crib for safety.

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Establish a routine

The best way to make sure your baby gets a sound and restful sleep is to establish a set sleep/wake routine. Try to keep naps and bedtimes at the same time each day, even on weekends or vacations. This helps the hormones in your baby’s body form a natural sleep/wake cycle, allowing them to fall asleep and stay asleep when it’s time.