Some parents arrange a space of their own room or a whole other room for the new baby. Some wait a little longer for the new room and some don’t bother about any babyish environment. All of you are fine in doing whatever fits your family's dynamic best. Thing is that with Sophia the First theme or baby blue, the place where the kids sleep matters.
First of all it needs to be safe. If your baby is a newborn up to 6 months, please be sure to read the recommendations of the Maltese Paediatric Association to avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Secondly, it should invite your kids to sleep. Since babies connect with their environment through their senses, there are ways to adjust their surroundings in order to help them to sleep better and longer:
Make room darker
Melatonin, the hormone that helps us to feel sleepy gets released in the dark.
This tip is especially important and sometimes even necessary for naptime when daylight makes it harder for kids to sleep. It’s okay to use a night lamp or those small lights that can be plugged. I would avoid stimulating lights like stars dancing on the ceiling, they are cute for sure but for a baby it can be too stimulating. To make the room darker you can get some black out curtains, shades or even go for a DIY route and just cover your child's window with black contact paper or a piece of cardboard cutted down to the size of the window.
If you are feeding during the night or if your child wakes up during the night for any other reason, instead of putting the lights on, use a dimmer or the night lamp to avoid encouraging the middle of the night awakenings.
Felling too hot or too cold can certainly wake up a sleeping baby. Check the temperature of the room and take notice that over 24° Celsius is too hot and you should cool the room as much as you can. Dress your baby in just a vest and use a sheet instead of a blanket. Between 20°C-24°C is still quite warm and is recommended to dress your baby in a babygrow or pyjamas with a blanket or a summer sleeping bag. For babies under 3 months old, dress them in a vest and a babygrow, use a blanket or a sleeping bag in the proper size to your baby.
The comfortable recommendations are between and 16°- 20°celsius. Dress your baby in a vest and cotton babygrow or a blanket if your baby is in age. Under 16 degrees is considered too cold, Warm up the room before you put your baby to bed. Your baby may wake in the night from being too cold and if potty trained, accidents may occur. Dress your baby in a vest, cotton babygrow, thick sleeping bag or blanket.
Try to dress your baby in 100% cotton clothing and stick to 100% cotton blankets, sheets and sleeping bags if you can too, as there's less risk of overheating in these. Polyester clothes don't let the skin breathe and can cause overheating.
You can find night lamps that measure the temperature and light colour changes depending on the temperature.
Using white noise is a life saver for many families. And it's because when babies were in the womb, they were listening to the noises outside, the blood pumping on the placenta and silent wasn’t exactly the rule.
White noise to give you an idea is basically the sound of a vacuum cleaner, or TV/radio without signal. Is not just soothing for babies –and adults, but helps to cover outside noises, from barking dogs to gathering in the other room. In my house, it helps to cover my toddler's natural loudness so her sister can have her morning nap without interruptions. The happiest baby website says that “To boost sleep the sound should be a bit quieter than a vacuum cleaner, just as loud as a shower, but still rough, like the womb or hairdryer sound”. Now days you can find white noise machines, Cd's, dvd’s, application, toys and even baby monitors that can play the frequency.
Make air circulate
Wherever your child is asleep or awake it should always be in a smoke FREE area. Also it’s important that the room is clean and there is a good air circulation. If possible, leave the window open during the day and/or during the night.
Diffusing essential oils can actually help clean and purify the air in your child’s room, and can also be used to help with respiratory problems. Some parents use essentials oils such as lavender or roman chamomile (and others) at bath time or massages as part of bedtime routine. I like to use eucalyptus during winter months. Be sure to ask your paediatrician before if you have any concern.
Keep colours neutral
The colours of the walls and even bedding choices can affect your child sleep patterns. I love chevron patterns for example but black chevron in bed sheets can keep a baby awake or make a baby more anxious. Choose calming and soothing colours and non toxic and odourless paints.
Keep entertainment outside
I mean keep toys, tablets, or TV outside the room or at least out of view. I know some days picking up toys is not in the kids or parents list. But an untidy bedroom or sleep area for instant, makes place to run creativity –in kids especially. Trying to fall asleep or go back to sleep while the fire truck is just there next to the baby's bed can be frustrating and overstimulating. That goes to mobiles and toys in or attached to the crib, some might not even be safe but also they can send the message of playtime instead of sleeping.
Studies such as this and this one have shown that kids that sleep with TV in their room sleep or other electronic devices end up sleeping less in and more restless than their peers with not devices allowed in their rooms. Remember to limit the use of electronic devices at least the last hour before bedtime, not just interferes with the soothing calming wind down purpose of the routine but with the hormone release that help them to feel sleepy.
All these are tips that can help an infant -and an adult- to sleep better and longer, however if your baby or toddler has a sleep problem or sleep association black out shades won’t be enough. Check out theother posts for more tips or contact me for a FREE 15 min consultation, I can help you to get your sleep back!
Try it out and let me know how it goes, until the next post!
Also, you might already know that many studies have shown that sleep deprivation can negatively affect learning and behaviour. *
To help you get through this transition, here few tips to make ease the way:
First: change your child´s bedtime before school actually starts.
Find out at what time your child should be awake in order to make it to school in time. Then, take in consideration how much sleep your child needs. And start the transition. If your 4 year old should be awake by 7:00 am and we know he should have around of 11 ½ hours of sleep during the night. His bedtime should be around 19:00 ish.
If during summer time your 4 year old was going to sleep at around 21:00 you can make the transition a) the night before school and brace yourself, or my favourite option b) use the days you have from today until school starts to slowly and gently adjust your child´s sleep time. You might want to make bedtime earlier 30 min at the time, per day. Say on Friday at 20:30, Saturday at 20:00, Sunday at 19:30, Then on Monday, aim to have your child asleep by 19:00. While you start to make those changes, don’t allow your child to sleep in the morning, start reducing the sleep time in the morning with same criteria (30 mins).
Second: Strength your bedtime routine and beyond.
Now that you have your “new” bed-time, go over the activities you have been allowing for the past months then you might want or should change to:
- Use a nap. If your child is over 3 years old he probably stopped napping by now, but still wouldn’t hurt to have a short nap every now and then or some quiet time during the day. Just keep in mind to make it early afternoon, specially when kids finish school early! If your kids come back from school and activities at 1600, opt for an earlier bedtime instead.
- Limit tablet, phone, TV, at least 1 hour before bedtime.
- Give a banana before bed. It’s a tip that has been going around on a Mum Facebook Group I’m a part of. And for some, it works wonders! and swear by it. They say it helps with night terrors, I will say it could if the night terror is happening because of a drop of sugar levels during the night. Just remember to give it at around 40 mins before, brush teeth afterwards and keep in mind that if the banana doesn't pull out the trick, the first cause of night terrors and nightmares is sleep deprivation.
- Check out the 7 Secrets of an effective Bedtime routine.
- Limit drinks in the last hour before going to bed. That to avoid your child to wake up because another trip to the potty or because he wet the bed, or a dirty diaper in the middle of the night.
Third: Be consistent.
If you know me, you know that I don’t get tired of stressing this out. When we are tired after a long day or week of work, its hard to findthe key to being a consistent parent, but don't give in! Keep it at around the same hours for bedtime and the same hours for waking up, Everyday!, even during the weekend.
(*)You did't know about the studies? Here are some of them:
Do you have any other sleep tip for school time??
Leave a comment and share to get others know!
Daniela S. Mendez
I've been blessed with two girls that have been my best school and inspiration. I know what it feels to have your whole life affected for lack of sleep, to be too tired to function! Now as a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach® my goal is to help your family to have the sleep you deserve.
Contact me to grab your proven and excellent quality sleep advise!