Creating a positive sleep environment for babies

JoFamily Life, Parenting

Baby sleeping, black and white image

A significant component of your baby’s healthy growth and development is the quality of their sleep. As a parent of 3, I know how much this sounds at odds with real life experience though!

Sleep is as vital to your baby as it is to you. In theory at least, a newborn sleeps 16 to 18 hours a day, while an infant sleeps 12 to 15 hours. Even now I scratch my head thinking how that balances with the sleepless nights we had over and over and over again!

Research that does make me nod my head in agreement, is that babies and infants can become overtired when they are awake for more than four hours during the day. This may lead to them having trouble falling asleep or sleeping for shorter periods, or could result in crankiness.

The best piece of advice that we were given from another parent when I was pregnant with our eldest, was to set up a routine straight away and to stick to it. Even if only roughly at first. Hard as it sometimes was, we got up at the same time every day. Daytime naps were generally in the downstairs room where it was still light, and at bedtime we switched to the bedroom making sure it was calm and dark.

I’m not saying that this led to blissful sleep straight away, but I do think that this routine was a good step towards helping our children adapt to sleep routines through their toddler and childhood years too.

Image of baby sleeping

Image credit

How Noise Affects Baby’s Sleep

Noise has a significant impact on how we all sleep, not just babies. This is why noise machines are well known for providing comfort for babies and adults alike.

Many people believe that a baby needs silence to sleep, but this depends on the baby, much like adults. Some babies can sleep through the loudest of commotions (such as our second born!) while others are disturbed by the slightest noise. 

In fact, parents are advised that you should continue as usual when introducing your baby to the home. This allows them to become acquainted with day to day life and noises within the house so they get used to sleeping in different environments.

Noise is sometimes seen as being a distraction and some may think it creates difficulties when focusing or concentrating. It really depends on the type of noise though. Some noises like ambient noise, white noise, pink noise and brown noise, can be beneficial for humans in various ways. These include but aren’t limited to improving health through reducing stress levels and promoting relaxation, which applies to babies and infants as much as adults.

How to Create a Comfortable & Safe Sleep Environment for Babies

A sleep environment for babies should be cosy and comfortable for them. Ideally it should provide a good balanced temperature and the right amount of noise to allow for uninterrupted sleep. From experience I would choose a soft, comfortable mattress that can help cradle your baby to sleep – check out For Your Little One – and ambient lighting that encourages sleep. Blackout curtains can reduce external noise and light which is a must for bedrooms, especially during the lighter summer months.

Baby monitors are also really handy. Ours was sound only, but there are many with great night vision cameras now so that you can keep a good eye on your baby as they sleep. A lot also have built in thermometers, which may not be entirely accurate but should give a good understanding of the ambient temperature of the room.

We didn’t opt for swaddling our boys although there are many benefits of this, but we did instead choose sleeping bags for them which prevented little feet from kicking off the covers. Do read the labels carefully though to choose the correct tog rating, and don’t use them until your baby is old or heavy enough. Each manufacturer will have different advice based on their product so take care to do your research.

A Final Tip

My favourite tip is to read to your child from birth. We always have story time in the bedroom, and have done since we brought each of our sons home from hospital. They may not understand the words for a while, but a soft voice lulls them to sleep and helps to form a happy and calm part of their sleep routine.

I hope that you have found this helpful. Do you have any tips that you would pass on to others to support creating a positive sleep environment?

N.B. Main image is copyright to Emma Lord Photography and must not be reproduced without permission. This article is a collaborative post. For more information please visit my disclosure page.