Pillow talk: Ideal sleeping conditions for babies

By J.V. Russell

8 October 2021

So far in the Pillow Talk column, I have discussed how to choose the perfect pillows, linens and accessories to not only make a bed look beautiful, but also to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep.

This month, we are going a step further by offering some useful tips to new parents on the best ways to create an ideal sleeping environment for their babies.

Optimal temperature
For many people, a cooler room can help them fall asleep quicker and encourage a deeper sleep. The same applies for babies. If it is too hot or too cold, a baby’s body will waste energy trying to regulate, making it harder for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. According to the Lullaby Trust in the U.K., a room temperature of 16-20 degrees C (61-68 degrees F) — with light bedding or a lightweight, well-fitting baby sleep bag or sleep sack is comfortable and safe for sleeping babies. Blankets on a baby are likely to be kicked off within minutes, but a sleep sack is nearly impossible for an infant to remove and is considered safe.

Being aware of the temperature in a baby’s room reduces the risk of them overheating. The chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome — commonly known as SIDS — is higher in babies who get too hot, so it is crucial to monitor the temperature in the room. Furthermore, the use of a ceiling or floor fan has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 72%.

sleeping baby

Darkness level
Darkness is essential to good-quality sleep. Melatonin, often known as the "sleepy hormone," influences sleep by sending a signal to the brain that it is time for rest. This signal helps initiate a baby's body's preparations for sleep; muscles begin to relax, feelings of drowsiness increase, body temperature drops — but melatonin is produced in response to darkness. Light exposure at the wrong times can throw a baby’s internal “sleep clock” out of whack.

A baby can be as easily overstimulated with sound just as with light. Ambient white noise machines are often used to help block out or mask noise that is outside of a nursery. White noise has so many benefits for an infant’s sleep, including increasing the quality of sleep and helping to reduce stress and avoid overstimulation. The best spot to place the source of white noise in a baby's room would be across from the crib, not right next to it. White noise should always be used continuously for the entire duration of night sleep, and for naps as well to promote consistency.

This article was originally featured in the October 2021 print edition of Camana Bay Times.

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About the author

J.V. Russell is a co-owner of Bedside Manor, which showcases a curated collection of high-quality bedding, bath and baby brands as well as unique jewellery, stationery and gifts.

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