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How do I create the optimal sleeping environment for my child?

Updated: Dec 18, 2022


 

There are so many factors to consider when you become a parent so I thought I would share with you some handy ideas, to assist with making your child's bedroom the perfect environment for optimal sleep!


Your child's bedroom should be a calming, safe space for your little one. The purpose of the bedroom is to quite simply, sleep. Therefore, I would encourage you to keep the bedroom as a relaxing, peaceful place so that your child can associate the bedroom with sleepy time. Try to avoid any stimulating activities or playtime in the bedroom. Similarly, you should avoid having toys in the cot for this same reason (as well as for safety purposes). The bedroom should not be used as a place for your child to be sent to as a form of punishment as this may form negative associations which could cause difficulties at bedtime.


Lighting


It is much easier to keep the bedroom darker in the winter months. With the sun rising between 4 -5am at the height of summer, this can be very inconvenient! Ensure that the blinds or curtains are drawn overnight so that the natural daylight cannot enter the room. In the summer, even with the blinds/ curtains drawn, light can still enter so you could consider black out blinds if your child is particularly sensitive to the light. If you child needs a night light, then this should be a red light. Blue light suppresses melatonin production which can have a negative impact on sleep. Screens should not be used 1-2 hours prior to bed, as again this suppresses melatonin production and can also be too stimulating before bed. Also, be mindful of light streaming into the bedroom from the hallway. landing etc.


Temperature


The optimal bedroom temperature for safe, comfortable sleep is 16-18C. In the winter, many people have a thermostat to help control the temperature overnight. You could also consider purchasing a 'GRO Egg' room thermometer to keep track of the bedroom temperature, as a small drop in temperature could trigger a wake up in the night. Layers are a good idea for children as the body temperature fluctuates during the night. The body temperature is highest in the evening before bed and lowest in the early hours of the morning. Children often kick their covers off if they are feeling too warm in the evening and then by the early hours of the morning, they wake from being too cold. Dressing your child in 100% cotton will help to prevent your child feeling sweaty and will be comfortable against their skin. If you are using a sleeping bag/sack for your child, then ensure that it is the appropriate tog for the season. You can often find this information on the label. Overheating your child can be dangerous, so avoid adding extra layers on top of the sleeping bag.


Noise


Noise should be kept to a minimum to avoid interrupting your child's sleep. Sudden noises can cause your child to startle and wake and constant noises at bedtime can affect your child's ability to tune out and fall asleep. If you live on a busy road for example, then this can be a bit tricky. White noise or pink noise can help to block out any breakthrough noises. Pink noise should not be used for babies under 6 months because it has been shown to induce slow wave sleep (deep sleep) which could potentially be dangerous for a younger baby.


Essential Oils


You could always try essential oils too! A good quality, organic essential oil is best. You can add essential oils to a diffuser, or some oils can be rubbed into bedding/ night wear. I would recommend lavender, chamomile and frankincense but there are many other lovely scents out there.


Safe Sleep


Of course, your child's safety is paramount. Babies should always be placed on their back to sleep and should have their feet at the foot of the bassinet/ cot with their covers firmly tucked in to avoid loose bedding from rising up over their face. It may be tempting to put a hat on your baby in this cold weather, but this could potentially be dangerous when they are sleeping indoors. Babies lose heat through their head so remove hats when inside so that they can cool down safely if they need to.


If you are co-sleeping with your baby then ensure that they are placed on a firm, flat surface. The 'protective c' position is the safest way to co-sleep with your baby. Your baby is on their back and you are on your side, forming a C shape around your baby with your thighs preventing your baby from sliding down. I would recommend your child being in a sleeping bag/sack and you having your own separate covers.


You should never bedshare with your baby if:

- Either you or your partner smokes

- Either you or your partner have consumed alcohol or taken drugs (including medications that may make you drowsy)

- Your baby was born premature (before 37 weeks)

- Your baby was born at a low weight (2.5kg or less)


I hope you now have a bit more of an insight into the comfortable, safe sleeping environment for you little on! Good luck!



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