Infant Sleep Environment:
To lay the foundation for great infant sleep, we want them to be comfortable. When a newborn comes into the world, they are still in the "womb mindset." You know how it takes a couple days to fully get out of vacation mode? Infants are the same way - but it takes about 3-4 months to get out of womb mode. This is why anything we can do to replicate the womb in your baby's nursery will make them feel the most comfortable.
The womb is a cozy, but loud and dark space. Your baby will enter into a world that isn't always like that. We want to make the new world feel consistent with the old world when they sleep to make them comfortable. Consistency is very comfortable for babies.
The punchline is, we want to recreate the womb in our world! The womb is a lot like a confined dark cave with a waterfall rolling through it. I mean, something about that is so inviting, yea? Well, that's what your baby thinks!
Infants can't understand your words yet, so we can often calm them quickly by recreating an environment and sounds that comfort them. With newborns, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends they sleep in the same room as the parents, which I completely agree with. We want safety first, always. So I want you to envision a calm, collected infant when I recommend that we redecorate your beautiful bedroom into a dark cave. Snazzy huh?
You may not like my design taste, but your baby is coming into this world thinking, "This place is hooked up!!" Plus, this is one of the BEST tricks. All you have to do is enter the cave, and your baby will be reminded of where they've felt safest, in the womb.
Let's picture this womb. There's no light; it's restricted and LOUD, but like a low-pitched, constantly the same shushing.
1.) Let's start with sound:
Sound is one of the most important in soothing, also the one that's looked at the least. For newborns, this really helps to make them feel at home. Get a sound machine.
Why? The womb is a very noisy place. While in utero, your baby is hearing the ambient sounds of blood running through your blood vessels and the movement of your stomach and intestines. The noise baby hears in the womb is about the same volume of a running shower. Now, imagine hearing this white noise 24/7 and someone all of a sudden shutting it off and expecting you to sleep. That might be tough, right? This is why we love sound machines for babies!
The sound in the womb is amplified to 90 dbs. For safety reasons, I don't want it this loud. I recommend using a sound machine at 65-70 dbs, and we want to also keep the sound machine 6 ft away from the baby's head. I want you to choose a deeper sound that's constantly the same. Here are some of my top sound machine picks.
2.) The womb is fairly restricted:
Many parents think their baby doesn't like to be swaddled. A lot of times, it's more that the swaddle is not tight enough. You want to be able to fit 1 finger in instead of 2. The swaddle technology right now is great and can let babies flex their hips and help you get to the right amount of confinement vs. stretch. The womb is a really tight place. They cannot stretch out. It should feel like a hug when it's the correct pressure, and they should calm down.
3.) We want to get to NO Light:
To create a dark environment, I recommend getting blackout shades to cover the windows, and using duct tape to cover lights from any appliances.
4.) Next, let's set Temperature:
Now I'm going away from the womb here, I know. But since your baby is wearing PJs, a diaper, and a swaddle, it's ok. Comfortable sleeping temperature is 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit or 20-21 degrees Celsius. If your baby's sleep space is warmer than this, and you hesitate to change it, trust me and maybe try to adjust it slowly to a lower temperature. 10% of the babies I've worked with started sleeping overnight immediately once the temperature was corrected in their room.
5.) While we are in your baby's sleep space, let's talk about rule #1: Safety:
We also want to make sure your baby's sleep space is safe. If you EVER feel that safety is being compromised, listen to your intuition.
I always recommend a video monitor with two-way sound. A lot of times, you can buy one with your FSA. This is so that you can make sure they are safe when you are going around the house.
There are a lot of recommendations when it comes to the safety of a crib. The following are the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Use a firm sleep surface.
- Do not use pillows, blankets, sheepskins, or crib bumpers.
- Keep soft objects, toys, and loose bedding out of your baby's sleep area.
- Do not smoke or let anyone smoke near your baby.
- Make sure nothing covers the baby's head.
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep, for naps, and at night.
- Dress your baby in sleep clothing, such as a one-piece sleeper, and do not use a blanket. Blankets are fairly dangerous, especially when your baby is little, because they can get stuck.
- Baby sleep area should be next to where the parents sleep.
- Baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone with you or anyone else.
I’ve linked some resources to safety here. Please look at these as you set up your sleep space please.
How Lovebug will customize to help your family love the newborn stage & get more sleep:
- Lovebug will give you step-by-step guidance to helping your newborn sleep longer stretches.
- Age-based lessons. Lovebug will deliver lessons based on your baby's age and development.
- Wake windows! You log, and Lovebug will tell you when the next nap or bedtime should be.
- Feed windows! You log, and Lovebug will alert you when it's time for baby's next feed.
Want to learn more about how to help your newborn get longer stretches of sleep? I encourage you to download Lovebug and take advantage of your free trial!