Baby Sleep: Creating the Right Environment

When you are getting ready to have a baby, you come to grips with the notion that you are going to have some sleepless nights, at least at first. This is perfectly normal, as we all know, and should be expected. The good news is that babies grow up fast, and their sleeping matures rapidly over their first couple years of life.

Getting baby to sleep through the night is a major milestone for most parents. Of course, we shouldn’t rush it because babies need to wake up to eat every two to four hours until they are at least three months old. Still, we all look forward to that time when baby (and parents) can sleep through the night safe and sound.

Fortunately, there are some things we can do to promote good sleep habits, even before our babies come home. The biggest favor you can do your baby (and yourself) is to create a good sleep environment for them. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Prepare a place in your room for baby to sleep. This doesn’t mean baby needs to sleep in your bed (she shouldn’t), but it does mean that baby should sleep somewhere where she can see you and (more importantly) you can see her. SIDS and other causes of death and injury go down dramatically when babies sleep in the same room with their parents. Baby should sleep in your room for the first six months, at least.
  2. Use a safe, modern crib. Even if you get everything else second hand, buy a new crib. If you do buy a used one, buy one that was recently manufactured and make sure that it hasn’t been recalled. The safety standards for cribs have been improved dramatically in recent years. The crib’s mattress should be firm and should fit snugly into the crib, leaving no room for baby to get caught between the mattress and the sides of the crib.
  3. Get a rocking chair and place it close to baby’s crib. Trust us on this one, you’ll have plenty of nights when you need to rock baby back to sleep, and the closer the chair is to her crib, the better.
  4. Install lights with dimmer switches or use a night light near baby’s crib. The last thing you want is a lot of bright lights or other stimulation for night time feedings.
  5. Place a fan near baby’s crib. This should be run on low while baby is sleeping. The white noise will help soothe baby, and the air flow has been proven to reduce the risk of SIDS.