Every parent knows that encouraging good sleeping patterns means that your baby will feel rested and happy throughout the day and you will be able to gain a better night’s sleep.
When babies are born, they have no concept of night and day so lighting and how you interact with your baby will help them to learn that night time is for sleeping. Around three months old is the ideal time to introduce a bedtime routine which will encourage your baby to fall asleep when they are put down and then sleep through the night.
Relaxing light levels
Lighting plays a huge part in your baby’s bedtime routine, as it allows you to dictate whether it’s night or day in your baby’s bedroom. Although there’s no rule book when it comes to your child’s bedtime, if your baby is around 3-4 months then you should aim to have them in bed between 7pm and 8.30pm, depending on their sleeping patterns, which means in summer it will still be light. Using a combination of dark or blackout blinds and a dimmer light in your baby’s nursery will mean that even on the lightest nights, you can still control the light levels in the room and ensure your baby becomes aware of the difference between day and night. It’s important to make sure that the blinds you choose are child safe as cords can be a safety hazard to toddlers and older children. A dimmer lamp or switch will enable you to slowly decrease the light levels in the room to create a relaxed environment for your baby, rather than it being pitch black. You could also consider installing dimmer lights in the other rooms in your house where your baby will be relaxing before bed, such as the living room, to help create a sleepy environment.
If your baby has trouble relaxing on a night then it might be worth considering introducing coloured fluorescent tubes to your nursery. Blues and greens help to promote relaxation so fitting a coloured fluorescent while your baby goes through her night time routine can help to promote a relaxing atmosphere in her nursery.
You can help your baby get used to the difference in night and day by keeping curtains open during the day and letting your baby nap in daylight or semi-lit rooms during the day. It’s OK to make noise during the day when your baby is sleeping so they become used to sleeping in higher noise levels and again, this will help them learn the difference between day and night. At night time, try to keep things as quiet as possible so your baby can gently drift off.
As the night time routine starts, begin to talk in a calming, quiet voice and eliminate distractions such as the TV, radio and your mobile phone. You can help your baby relax with a bedtime story or by simply talking to your baby, even if they are only a few months old as the sound of your voice will be comforting to them. You could play a calming music CD or sing to your child too to encourage them to sleep. It’s a good idea to have a comfy arm chair in your baby’s nursery so when your baby starts drifting off to sleep, you are only a short distance from their cot. Relaxing techniques like these combined with dimming the lights will let your child understand that this is bedtime and not just a nap.
Just like adults, babies tend to sleep better when the room is a little cooler. It can be tricky to regulate the temperature in a room and if you find the temperature fluctuates, or you don’t have a thermostat which controls the temperature in the room, then a combination of sheets and blankets will keep your baby cool enough. The recommended temperature for a nursery should be around 16⁰ – 20⁰ and to keep your baby cool you should dress her in a vest and body suit, unless it’s really warm then just a vest should suffice.
If you need to cool the room with a fan or by opening the window then ensure your baby’s cot is not directly near the cool air as they could become too cold during the night. Try to remember to turn the thermostat down or open the window an hour or so before you plan to put your baby to bed so that the room is comfortable when it’s bedtime. You could even programme your thermostat or set an alarm to remind you to open the window or switch on the fan before bedtime.