As soon as you bring your child into their room, we want them to understand straight away that this is where they fall asleep quickly and naturally.
Here are 5 steps that can help you to accomplish this.
1. Keep it Calm
It’s ok to have all kinds of fun in your child’s room during the day but the hour before your child’s bedtime their bedroom should be quiet and soothing.
This achieves TWO very important bedtime goals:
- It prevents your child from getting overexcited / overstimulated just before bedtime.
- It also helps you “set the tone” for the night.
It allows your child to understand that play time has finished for the day and they won’t be encouraged to start playing games with you once they’ve been put to bed.
We still want bedtime to be something they look forward to so cuddles, singing, laughter, storytelling, and so on are fine but just remember to keep it calm! This will create a distinct difference from daytime that your baby will come to recognise.
2. Keep it Cool
Overdressing your baby is another easy mistake to make, after all we all want our baby to be warm and cosy, but babies who are put in too many layers are at greater risk of both overheating and SIDS.
In order to keep your baby warm, but not too warm, my recommendation is to use a sleep sack.
Another thing to be aware of is the temperature of your baby’s room. The Lullaby Trust recommends that a baby’s room should be between 16 – 20 celsius.
3. Keep it Simple
It’s very tempting for parents to create a very lively and animated atmosphere in their child’s room. There are so many lovely stencils, stickers, musical mobiles, and teddies that flash and play lullabies, but when it comes to your baby’s room, less is most definitely more.
All this extra “stuff” can be VERY distracting & overstimulating for a baby, and this is the last thing you want to be dealing with just before bedtime.
The best advice I can give you in this regard is to declutter your baby’s room. Or, at the very least, remove the following from your baby’s cot: bumpers, blankets, soft toys, positioning device, cushions, & pillows. This not only makes for a much more calming sleep space, it’s actually much safer, too!
4. Keep it Dark
True fact: Babies aren’t actually afraid of the dark. Most babies prefer their sleep environment to be darker rather than lighter.
One of the biggest reasons a baby wakes up too early is simply because they are VERY sensitive to light, especially when the level of light changes.
In other words, when the sun starts to come up it can cause your baby to wake up! Blackout blinds do a really great job of keeping the light out.
5. Quiet….but not too quiet!
A baby’s room can never be too dark… but it CAN be too quiet!
Why is that?
The amount of light that enters your child’s room is something you can control quite easily, but the amount of noise is not so easy to control. We can of course take tiptoe around the house and watch the TV with the volume really low, but we can’t control things like somebody ringing the doorbell or knocking on the door and setting the dog off or the phone ringing, or somebody dropping a pan in the kitchen! You get the gist, everyday comings and goings.
But all is not lost there are a few things we can do:
- From a young age you can get your child used to a little bit of “background noise” (like conversation, TV, housework, etc.) so that they’ll be able to sleep through everyday activities that carry on after they’ve gone to bed.
- A white noise machine is fantastic for “masking” other sounds. It is most effective when it is kept running all through the night and kept a safe distance from the baby’s cot.
Creating a “sleep sanctuary” is a fantastic way to help your baby get a healthy night’s sleep. If your baby or toddler still isn’t sleeping through the night don’t worry because it just means that there is a little more work to do.
In this case what we need to do is to start following a few specific steps at bedtime that give your child the cues & skills they need to fall asleep quickly & naturally. Once your child has learnt these skills, they will be more than capable of putting themselves back to sleep when they wake during the night.