When you have a new baby, only one thing can rival the preciousness of those adorable little fingers and toes — sleep.
Life with a new baby can be a rollercoaster of joy, feedings, snuggles, diapers — and exhaustion. A good night's rest is necessary for your little one's health and development and for your sanity. If the baby isn't sleeping, then nobody's sleeping!
If you're seeking ways to catch those elusive zzz's, we're here to help with tried-and-true baby nursery ideas. With just a few design tips and a handful of helpful products, you can transform your child's room into a sleeping sanctuary.
Dreaming of an idyllic baby nursery can put stars in any expectant parent’s eyes, but before you start pinning cribs and mobiles, there’s one thing to square away first — safety.
Infants can sleep upwards of 66% of the day, so their sleeping space is one of the most critical areas to concentrate your safety efforts. Keep these four essentials in mind for safe sleep:
- Baby should be lying on their back
- Mattresses should be firm and flat
- Sleep surfaces should be clutter-free
- Baby should have their own sleeping space
Following these tips can help reduce your baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related accidents, giving you greater peace of mind (and more sleep, too!). Consider these safe-sleep rules when gathering baby nursery ideas, incorporating pieces that promote safe sleep.
5 Ways To Create A Baby Sleep Oasis
After you’ve established the basic rules for keeping your baby bedroom safe, it’s time to focus on the fun stuff. It’s much more fun to browse baby nursery décor than research product specs, so we’ve taken the stress out of it and gathered some suggestions to get you started. Check out these tried-and-true tips and products and enjoy a sweet night’s sleep.
1. Set The Scene
Create an atmosphere conducive to peaceful sleep. A simple way to achieve this is to keep the baby nursery at an optimal 68-72 degrees. Babies can’t regulate their body temperature well, so keeping the room at this temperature can prevent discomfort and help your baby sleep soundly.
You can do a few things to keep your baby’s room at the right temperature.
- Use a baby monitor. Baby monitors with temperature displays are a great way to ensure the room’s temperature is where you want it to be. The Ohma All-in-One Baby Monitor can alert you about changes in baby nursery conditions so that you can make necessary adjustments.
- Get a smart thermostat. Take things up a notch with a smart thermostat. You can see what the current room temperature is and set it remotely. This is great for when you’re on the go and want to prepare the nursery for your return or middle-of-the-night adjustments.
- Try a space heater. A space heater can help warm the room in the winter months. Despite their bad reputation, space heaters are perfectly safe to use in the nursery if they’re appropriately used — some are designed specifically for baby bedrooms! Just make sure to follow the safety instructions.
- Turn on a fan. Use a fan to circulate the air and keep things cool during the warmer months. In addition to keeping the baby comfortable, research shows that using a fan during sleep reduces the risk of SIDS by 72%. Just make sure it is directed away from the crib, so the baby doesn’t get a chill.
It may take some trial and error, but you can achieve the perfect temperature in the nursery and set the stage for peaceful sleep with a few adjustments.
2. Keep It Minimal
As tempting as all those adorable accessories are, resist the urge to buy too many. For a baby nursery, less is definitely more.
Baby bedrooms should be peaceful havens where babies can sleep soundly and comfortably. Maintain a serene environment by keeping the room clutter-free. Too many toys, furniture, and decorations can overwhelm a baby, making it difficult for them to settle down.
The only essential furniture pieces for a baby’s room are a crib, a dresser, and a changing table. You might also like a glider or rocking chair if you have the space. Go for simple, soothing colors. Stick with neutrals like white, grey, or cream, and add soft blues or greens for a gentle pop of color in your baby nursery décor. These soothing hues may help your little one relax.
By starting out minimally, you’ll benefit your baby and relieve some of the pressure parents feel to accomplish everything at once. Honestly, newborns don’t require much. Researchers have found that babies should sleep in the same room as their parents for about four months, so you may not need the nursery right away. You can always add more things later as you learn what your child needs.
3. Make It Dark
Light before and during bedtime plays a critical role in your child’s sleep. There’s a lot of chatter about blue light these days, and it can indeed disrupt our sleep patterns. Almost all household lighting sources emit blue light, as do TVs and smartphones.
During the day, blue light boosts alertness, but at night, the presence of blue light tricks our bodies into thinking it’s still daylight. This suppresses the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, disrupting sleep patterns. Not exactly what we want with a newborn!
Newborn eyes are sensitive, and even a short blast of blue light can suppress melatonin, so it’s essential to keep the nursery as dark as possible. A blackout curtain or shade will help keep out the light from streetlamps or passing headlights.
Be mindful of other light sources, like power lights on baby monitors and fans. If you decide to use a night light, choose one that emits warm, yellow light. Just be sure that it stays on all night to avoid waking the baby with sudden changes.
Maintaining a low-tech nursery can also reduce light stimulation. Avoid TVs or tablets before and during bedtime and be careful with your phone usage. This doesn’t mean you can’t watch Grey’s Anatomy with the captions on (*cough* baby number two) or play Candy Crush while nursing for the eighth time at 3 AM (yep, baby number three). Just keep the screen dim and night mode on.
4. Soothe With A Shush
The best way to help your sweet little one sleep well is to use white noise. You might be familiar with white noise but not sure exactly what it is. White noise is the sound that results when all the sounds our ears can hear randomly combine. It’s basically the sound of chaos — chaos proven to calm both babies and adults. Funny, right?
A white noise machine is the top choice of delivery (we invented the first one back in 1962, so we’re a little partial!). These machines create a continuous, soothing shush sound that can help lull the baby to sleep. Several noise machines are available to suit your needs:
- The original beloved Dohm® Classic and its updated twin, the Dohm® Natural
- Portable, lightweight travel sound machines with convenient on-the-go features
- Baby white noise machines with extra features, like nightlights or speakers
- Playful sound machines in adorable shapes like fish and sea turtles (this one projects stars on the ceiling!)
- You can even have a white noise machine built into the baby monitor!
There are a few things to keep in mind if you plan to use a white noise machine. First, be sure to place your sound machine properly. It should be at least three feet (3’) away from the baby’s head to ensure it’s not too loud. Whether on a shelf or bookcase, most placements in your baby nursery will sufficiently fill the room with enough soothing sound.
Also, you may need to experiment with a few different sounds or volume levels until you find one that your baby enjoys and responds to well. Stick with it, and you’ll find the best white noise for baby.
5. Design With Night in Mind
Taking care of a baby in the middle of the night isn’t always easy. You're bleary-eyed, it's dark, and no matter how adorable your sweet bundle is, their wails are likely to make you feel harried. Combine that with ill-placed furniture, and you're cruisin' for a bruisin'!
A carefully conceived nursery decor style will ensure that your baby's room is ideal for sleeping. The layout of a nursery should encourage sleep by optimizing the space and making it very functional for nighttime use. Here are some things to consider:
- Choose the crib location carefully. Place the crib away from the windows so the baby is not exposed to cold drafts or hanging cords. Also, keep an eye on where it is relative to the door, as you might accidentally wake the baby by shining a bright light in their face when peeking in (been there, done that, not fun).
- Set up the diaper changing station for ease. Easy access to the diapering station is crucial for middle-of-the-night changes. Place the changing table nearby and prepare it before the baby awakens to minimize disturbance. A strategically placed nightlight can help you see without fully waking baby. Add a diaper pail to your baby registry too, for quick disposal.
- Thoughtful rocker/glider placement is key. The ideal location for your rocker or glider is close to the crib. Bonus sleep tip from this three-time mom: choose the side based on how you typically hold your child. Think about the maneuvers you'll have to do to transfer your little one into their crib so you can eliminate any shifts or turns of hands, making it one smooth motion that won't wake them up.
A functional floorplan includes not only arranging your furniture thoughtfully but also leaving the floor space as open as possible. You don't want to trip over cords or bump into furniture in the dark.
And To All, A Good Night
Creating a peaceful and calming nursery environment can go a long way in helping your baby (and you!) get some much-needed restful sleep. There is no “one size fits all” sleep approach, as every baby is unique. If you’re struggling to help your little one get adequate rest, reach out to a sleep consultant or your child’s pediatrician for help. In the meantime, try some of these baby nursery ideas and see what works best for your family. You can create a sanctuary for your baby that will encourage sound sleep in no time. Sweet dreams!