For many parents, getting their baby to sleep through the night can feel like the Holy Grail of parenting, as sleepless nights can mean tired, grumpy days for parents and babies. Although every baby is different and will establish their own routine, there are a few things you can try to ensure your baby has every chance of drifting off to sleep soundly.
Cotton sheets and cotton cellular blankets are a great choice for babies, even newborns, as they are easy to layer up and down so you can keep your baby at the right temperature. Cotton is usually the best choice for bedding as it will be softer on your baby’s skin than synthetic material. Avoid having anything other than sheets and blankets in your baby’s cot as sleep accessories such as bumpers, pillows and comforters could become dislodged and cover your baby’s head.
If you’ve ever tried to get to sleep when the room is just too warm or freezing cold then you’ll know how badly sleep can be affected by temperature. Babies are no different and just like us, babies will sleep better when the room is the right temperature. The recommended temperature for a nursery is 16-20⁰ which helps to create a comfortable and safe environment for a baby to sleep in. If you don’t have a thermostat, then you can control the temperature naturally by layering or removing sheets and blankets on your baby’s cot. You can also open the window slightly or use a fan on warm nights, although make sure your baby isn’t in a draft.
New born babies can’t tell the difference between night and day so lighting is one way you can help your baby to get into a regular routine by associating darkness with night-time and light with daytime. A study by researchers at Liverpool John Moores University, revealed that babies exposed to twice as much light between 12pm and 4pm actually slept better as the light helped to develop their biological clock, which is an important factor in establishing sleeping patterns.
To create the optimum light levels for your baby, try using a combination of a dimmer switch and blackout blinds. This will enable you to control the light levels in the nursery no matter what time of year it is and it will help you create the same conditions every night for your baby which can help to establish a routine.
When you’re feeding your baby at night, and through the night, just use a very low light, perhaps even just a night light to keep a feeling of calm in the room. You could even try fitting a red fluorescent tube to create a relaxing ambience in the room. Although blue is often associated with relaxation, according to Harvard Health, “Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin,” which means it can help to create a relaxing pre-sleep environment for your baby.
Sound can be one of the most disruptive stimulants at bedtime so try to keep noise to a minimum. When you are going through your baby’s bedtime routine, use a hushed voice and avoid loud noises, such as noise from the TV. Keep talk to a minimum so your baby associates quiet and calm with bedtime. If you want to introduce another element to your baby’s bedtime routine then you could try playing soothing lullabies or even just playing white noise so your baby begins to associate this noise as a signal that bedtime is near.
By creating a quiet, calming environment you can encourage your baby to drift off to sleep naturally and catch up on sleep yourself.
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