Updated: Sep 5
Where your baby sleeps can have a big impact on their quality and quantity of sleep.
Before you even think about sleep training, have a look at some of the different aspects around your baby’s sleep environment.
Why not have a go at using some of these tips and see if it helps improve your baby’s sleep?!
1. Dark Room
A dark sleep environment is very important as any light that enters the room signals to your child it's time to wake. This mostly becomes an issue during naps and early in the morning when sunlight can start to creep in around curtains and blinds. Installing black out blinds in the nursery is a great idea but can be expensive. There are cheaper more temporary options if you’re not ready to start redecorating just yet.
2. White Noise
White noise is a great settling tool for newborns as it mimics the sounds of the womb. It can be effective right through to about 12 months old. It’s also great for drowning out a busy household and the sound of noisy siblings. White noise is a positive sleep association which can be played constantly throughout naps and overnight. If your baby wakes, they'll hear the white noise and know it's still sleep time.
3. Swaddle or Sleeping Bag
Swaddling is another great settling tool for young babies as it hinders their startle reflex. If you are not confident in your swaddling abilities, you can purchase fitted swaddles that are easy to use and harder for babies to break free from. Once your baby starts rolling you will need to transition them from a swaddle to a sleeping bag. Sleeping bags are a great way to ensure your child stays warm overnight without the danger of having blankets in the cot.
Using a dummy is a very personal choice and is up to parents to decide whether they want their child to have one or not. Dummies only become an issue for sleep if a baby relies on it to fall asleep and wakes often looking for it to be replaced. If your baby is under 8 months old and you feel the dummy is causing issues with their sleep, then you may want to consider removing it now. If they are 8 months or older they will have formed a stronger attachment to the dummy, so we can look at ways to teach your baby how to replace the dummy themselves. If you haven't ditched the dummy by 8 months I wouldn’t recommend removing it until they are around 2.5-3 years old.
For more information on dummies and sleep click here.
A comforter provides reassurance to your child when you are not there with them, which can be great when separation anxiety hits. They are only safe to introduce from about 7 months old, should be no bigger than a handkerchief, have no loose parts that can be a choking hazard and should be made from breathable material. Some children will take to a comforter straight away and keep it for many years, others will change comfort toys several times as they get older, and some children just won’t take to a comfort toy at all.
6. Cot or Bed - Safe Sleep Space
It is best to keep your child in a cot up to about 2.5-3 years of age, as long as it is safe, and they are not climbing out. The mattress should be firm, and the cot should be free of any loose objects like blankets, bumpers and pillows. A child doesn’t develop impulse control until closer to 3 years of age, so transitioning them before then can cause difficulties around keeping them in bed.
Read more on the cot to bed transition here.
7. Night Light
I wouldn't recommend using a night light under the age of two as it can negatively impact sleep. However, if you require a light for night feeds or for a toddler with a genuine fear of the dark, then using a red or orange light is best as it doesn’t block the production of melatonin.