Creating the Perfect Nursery

When I found out that I was expecting, the first thing I did was jump on Pinterest and look for nursery inspiration. I found tons of adorable pieces to hang over her crib, to put in the bookshelf, and lots of fluffy, adorable bedding with bows that I loved.  All things soft and girly caught my eye- and so did all of the products that were marketed towards sleep that I had never seen my nephews or niece use before.  I’ll save this long list of items for another day, but they included the Dock-A-Tot, the Snoo Bassinet, and special projectors and lights (although some parents swear by these items).

I soon learned that not only did I not need all of those things, but that I was better off without them.  You see, as a first time mom, I thought a lot about creating an aesthetically pleasing nursery that was very feminine yet suited for a baby, but not a lot about whether this would be the ideal sleep space. Silly, I know.  In short, the goal should be to create a “sleep sanctuary” rather than a playroom.

So how do you create the perfect nursery or sleep environment that is calming and comfortable? The key is to implement the 5 steps below to ensure that your child will be going into a space knowing that this is where they sleep- and will make the journey into sleep much easier for both them and you!

Step 1- Keep it simple.

It is so easy to overfill a child’s room. Lots of parents start with a clean slate and paint animals onto the walls, stick glow-in-the-dark stars onto the ceiling, and hang toys over the crib, but trust me on this one- less is more.

Imagine how stimulating it can be for a child to lay in bed and be able to see all of these new things. So my advice, if you have already created a nursery but are finding that your child is having trouble sleeping, is to declutter.

Get rid of hanging mobiles or toys, extra blankets, stuffed animals, cushions, pillows, and positioning devices. Not to mention that practicing a safe sleep space should be the primary reason to declutter for your little one. Sadly, about ½ of all crib deaths and 2/3 of bassinet deaths are caused by suffocation resulting from an overcrowded sleep environment, which is where “Bare is Best” comes from.

Step 2- Keep it dark.

Although many believe that babies are afraid of the dark, this is not true. A toddler or an older child may begin this “fear” from the dark eventually because of individual experiences they may have, but babies and children actually prefer a darker sleep environment than we adults do.

Additionally, one of the main reasons a baby wakes up too early is simply because the light in the room in the early morning triggers the mind to know that daytime is hear and puts a halt to melatonin production. This is the reason that I am a big fan of “blackout shades/curtains” and recommend it to all of the families I work with.

Step 3- Keep it quiet… but not too quiet.

What do I mean by this? It is important to keep it quiet enough in the house so that you aren’t startling baby awake, but it is more important to create an environment that your child will sleep through even if something unexpected happens- like a neighbor ringing your doorbell. With that in mind, I recommend two things.

First, get your child used to a little bit of background noise such as a light conversation, housework, or the sound of the TV so that when they go to bed, your life doesn’t have to stop.

Second, introduce a white noise machine early on. This will do a great job with “masking” louder sounds such as the barking of a neighbor’s dog or a truck passing by. Additionally, you can enjoy some adult time without worrying about baby waking once baby is asleep.

Step 4- Keep it cool.

One of the biggest mistake that parents make (I was definitely guilty of this one) is to overdress them while putting them to bed.
Since blankets are a no-no for newborns, I found myself overdressing my daughter by layering her in a onesie, pants, long sleeve, and socks before bed- even when the room was 76 degrees Fahrenheit. I soon learned that she was sleeping much better when I would dress her lighter for bedtime, which I started to do after learning that babies who get dressed in too many layers are at a higher risk of both overheating and of SIDS.

Apparently, most experts recommend keeping your baby’s room cool- between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit (20-22 Celsius.) And if you prefer an even cooler environment or are one of those moms who really think your child needs a blanket, please reach for a sleep sack instead. These are safe for sleep and will help to keep your baby a little warmer at nighttime.

Step 5: Keep it calm.

During the daytime, it is still okay to go in your child’s room to play, read, and have activities. But for the hour before you put your child in bed, make sure the room is clean and free of clutter. Spend some time outside of the room after dinner doing activities that are calming, yet won’t put your child to sleep. Make sure all electronics are off and find a way to play that is calm such as singing, cuddling, reading or doing puzzles. Then, after the bedtime routine, spend some time in the room that is quiet and soothing.

This will help with two very important bedtime goals. It makes sure that you are not overstimulating your child before bed and helps you “set the tone” for the night. Your child will soon understand that fun time is over and will know what is expected once they have been put to bed for the night.

So, there it is.  Creating the perfect nursery is all about keeping it simple- thinking about whether or not the items you have in the room will help put your little one to sleep or will distract and overstimulate them, but most importantly, whether it is safe for sleep.  With that said, have fun creating and decluttering- whichever stage you may be in.  Sleep well!