The Newborn Nursery
The nursery, one of the fun and exciting first steps when preparing for your little one to arrive. The Nursery is not always defined the same amongst parents. It might be a separate room in the house where you have perfectly picked every piece of furniture to match your style and be perfect for your baby or it may be in the room where you sleep so that you can keep your baby right beside you!
In whatever situation you have for your family, it is helpful to know some tips that can help you set up the sleep environment to help you and your baby get the best rest possible. It is normal for your baby to wake up frequently during the early months and we want to make sure we are meeting their needs but also want to be able to snuggle back to sleep once those late night feeds are done.
Have you heard of the 4th Trimester? This is the first 3 months after your baby is born and is what I like to acknowledge as the 'womb to world transition.' This is the time when your baby is learning new stimulants for the first time, starting to spend more time awake, connect with their new environment and find their place in their new world. They have left the world they know, your womb, and as one of my favorite Lactation Consultants say "wakes up in China." Everything is new and overwhelming to them and this is something that we need to consider when setting up the perfect sleep environment for our baby. We ask ourselves, how can I make my baby feel like they are at 'home' again so that they feel safe and secure?
This is why I break the sleep environment blog into 2 separate posts. One for newborns and the other for after babies have gone through the big maturation step of the 4 Month Sleep Shift. This blog is for new babies who are adjusting to their new world. A-lot of what influences babies during the fourth trimester is stimulation levels. Using cues that help mimic the womb and low stimulation environments you can help keep your baby feeling calm which in turn can make sleep a more positive experience. So, how can you do this?
1. Have your baby in the same environment as you. It is recommended for your baby to room share with you for the first 6 months of life to help reduce the risk of SIDS. Having everything set up near you can help you and your baby rest easy at night.
2. Have a comfortable set up for night feeds. Your baby is going to feed at night whether they are breastfed or bottle fed during the newborn stage. Feeding is important during the fourth trimester and so our goal is not to eliminate night feedings during these months!
- Have diapers and wipes in the room for easy diaper changes
- have water and snacks for you
- Keep your baby in the sleep environment where sleep cues are present versus taking them to another area of the house to feed. This helps to keep stimulation low which can make it easier to put them back to sleep.
3. Set up a darker sleep space. Having a darker sleep location helps to eliminate light stimulation which can be very stimulating for baby. I like to encourage a dark sleep space for both naps and nights to help your baby stay as calm as possible.
- Have a small night light that you can turn on for night feeds to see what you are doing. A dim light is the best way to add some light without it being overstimulating.
- You can use light levels at night and during the day to help prevent day/night confusion right from the start. It is all about when the brain is receiving more or less stimulation that sets up patterns of when to be awake and when to be asleep.
4. Use white noise! This is my favorite sleep tool for all ages. During the newborn stage, white noise is used to help mimic the sounds of the noise. It is impossible to match up the sounds perfectly of course but the goal is to have a constant sound in the background during sleeping times. Your baby was surrounded by constant noise from blood flowing, digestive sounds, your heartbeat and more. Trying to eliminate all sounds and be quiet while they are sleeping can seem unnatural to your baby during the womb to world transition.
- Choose a sound that it constant meaning the tone stays the same such as white noise, heavy rainfall, vacuum, ect. This eliminates changes in sound which can be extra stimulation.
- Choose a white noise source that is continuous meaning it stays on for the whole sleep duration. You turn it on during your little sleep routine and then turn it off when your baby isn't sleeping.
- Place the noise machine on the opposite side of the room. We want there to be a constant sound that your baby can hear but not something that is right beside their sleeping space.
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5. Have a safe temperature. Temperature is often overlooked but is a very important component to your baby's sleep environment. Babies bodies are still immature and so cannot regulate their body temperature well. This means that we can be putting them at risk for over-heating if the room environment is too warm. Over-heating is a risk for SIDS and something that we want to be conscious of. The National Sleep Foundations suggestions for babies, toddlers and children is a room temperature between 18 Degrees Celcius (65 F) and 21 Degrees Celcius (70 F).
- If the room temperature is comfortable for you then it is comfortable for your baby.
- To help keep a consistent temperature around your baby keep them away from sleeping under a window in direct air from fans or heaters.
- Place your baby in a fitted one piece onsie for sleep periods with a lighter swaddle blanket if swaddling.
- If your baby feels hot to the touch or is sweating then they may be getting too warm.
The above information and tips are meant to help make you feel confident and ready to help your newborn sleep as best as they can. We can use a healthy sleep environment in combination with healthy expectations to feel rested and ready to get through each day. The above tips will also help you sleep better. You need all the ZZZ's you can get.
Want to know how the room environment impacts your baby during and after the 4 month sleep regression? Check that out here.
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