Before my daughter was born, I was definitely in nesting mode. I couldn’t wait to get her nursery set up with all the décor I had bought. But what I didn’t think about when I was setting up her room was how to create the best sleeping environment for newborns.
I realized pretty quickly after bringing her home that she pretty much wanted nothing to do with sleep. And we struggled for quite some time with her sleep. While teaching newborns and babies the basic fundamental skills they need to get good, quality sleep is essential, creating the best sleeping environment for newborns and babies is also very important for their sleep. To help your little one get the best sleep they can, follow these tips to establish the best sleeping environment for your baby.
Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.
Safe Sleep Environment for Infants
Before we dive into how to design the best sleeping environment for newborns, it’s important to discuss the Safe Sleep Environment for infants. If you haven’t already done so, check out the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Safe Sleep guidelines.
One area that the AAP brings attention to is that they recommend that babies sleep in the same room (but not the same sleeping surface) as their parents for at least the first 6 months.
Crib in Parents Room
So there’s really two ways that you can navigate that safe sleep recommendation. The first is that you can have your baby sleep in their own room, but you can bring a mattress in for yourself to sleep in their room.
Or the second option is to bring the crib in parents room. And a lot of families decide to go with this option of setting up the crib in parents room because you don’t need to get a new mattress or sleep in the floor for several months.
Plus if your teach your baby the skills needed for healthy, independent sleep, they’re going to have no problem moving into their own nursery whenever you feel like the time is right for your family.
Download Your Free Sleep Guides
Setting Up a Nursery in Your Bedroom
Let’s say you’ve decided that you’ve decided that setting up a nursery in your bedroom is the direction that you’re going to go. That’s great! You and your baby can absolutely still get a great night’s sleep with the crib in parents room.
When setting up a nursery in your bedroom, place your baby’s crib or bassinet away from window cords or blinds. I just recommend nowhere near a window for safety.
So where do you put the crib when setting up a nursery in your bedroom? Should it be right next to you or further away? It’s really whatever works for you! If you’re a pretty sound sleeper, you can have your baby’s crib or bassinet right up close to you. But if you’re a light sleeper, you may want to move the crib a little further away in the bedroom.
I am a very light sleeper. The first few weeks of my daughter’s life I had her right up next to my bed in her crib. I could roll over and practically touch her if I needed to. But I found that she was a very noisy sleeper (which is very typical for newborns) and our set up just wasn’t working for me to get any rest. So we moved her a little further back in the bedroom, towards the foot of the bed rather then just next to me.
Nursery Room Setup
If you’ve decided that your baby will have their own room, then here’s how to create the best sleeping environment for newborns in their own room. Set up the crib against the middle of the longer wall in the room. Again, you’ll want to keep the crib away from the window for safety.
Then don’t add any frills to the crib. The only thing that should be in the crib, is the mattress with a fitted sheet. Your baby doesn’t need a mobile hanging above their crib. We really want to teach your baby that their crib is for sleeping. If there’s music going and lights flashing, that’s going to be very stimulating. We want them to calm and relax, and a mobile or light up toy would be doing the opposite for your baby.
Also, it’s just not safe. You don’t want to have anything attached or added to your baby’s crib. Your baby doesn’t need a pillow. They don’t need a stuffed animal until they’re over the age of 1.
Why Sleep Is Important for Development
As a baby sleep consultant, I do have a lot of parents tell me they’ve added bumper to the crib. And my advice…take them off. You do not need bumpers to create the best sleeping environment for your newborn. Again, they are not safe.
Your newborn will also be in a swaddle, so there’s no way their little arms or legs can go between the bars of the crib. And even when your baby is ready to transition from a swaddle into a sleep sack, I urge you not to work about their arms or legs going between the slits of the crib. 99.9% of the time they are going to be able to wiggle their arm or leg back in no problem.
And if in the off chance they do need some assistance, you’ll hear them calling out for you on the monitor. You can quickly go over to them and help them get back into a comfortable position.
Both of my children slept in the crib for the first 3 years of their lives. And there was only 1 time between the two of them that we had to go in to help get unstuck.
One of the most important things you can do to create the best sleeping environment for newborns to is make it nice and dark in their room. The ideal nursery darkness level should be a 10 out of 10…pitch black for your baby to sleep.
Think about when your baby was in the womb. It was dark as a cave 24 hours a day. That darkness is actually very comforting for them because that was all they knew before entering this world.
Newborns also don’t begin producing melatonin until around 3 – 4 months of age. Keep their nursery dark when they sleep and exposing them to light when they’re awake is one of the best things that you can do to help prevent day and night confusion.
The best way to make a nursery darkness where you really want it to be is to put Blackout Window Covers over the windows. I personally like these more than blackout curtains because blackout curtains do tend to let some light in around the edges. Whereas the Blackout window covers will keep all the light out.
Nursery Light & White Noise
Now that your know how important darkness is for your baby’s nursery, you may be thinking “ok Kaley, well what am I meant to do for night feeds?”
Well mama, I recommend using a nursery night light when doing night feeds. My favorite is the Hatch Rest because offers a two in one nursery night light and white noise machine.
I like to set the nursery night light to a red color and just keep in on as dim as possible when you’re changing your baby’s diaper at night or doing a night feed. That will keep both your and baby in the best sleepy state to go back to sleep afterwards.
Baby Still Won’t Sleep
You’re now ready to create the best sleeping environment for newborns! You’ve got that room nice and dark. There’s a white noise machine going. The crib is nice and safe. But is your baby still having issues falling or staying asleep?
If so, they may need help learning the skills needed to fall asleep easily and sleep long stretches in their crib at night and for naps. And that’s exactly what I help families do. I work with families of newborns, babies and toddlers to create healthy sleep habits for life. And I do this using gentle sleep training methods that I customize to your family.
If you need help getting your baby sleeping well, click here to schedule your free Sleep Evaluation call. On this call I’ll be asking some questions to learn about where your baby struggles the most with sleep and walk you through how I can help. Talk soon mama!