When becoming parents for the first time, in an effort to prepare for every need and event, our home becomes overrun with every baby friendly accessory. I find this aspect of modern day parenting amusing because a few hundred years ago, there was definitely a much more minimalistic ideology. Have a cradle and a wooden rattle and you were good to go! Nowadays, the gift haul from the baby shower can include a swing (maybe the Snoo), mobiles that light up and play songs, stuffed animals that mimic the human heartbeat and or project scenes onto the ceiling, and the list goes on and on.
There are so many different products on the market that guarantee to entertain, pacify, and engage our babies. Which is why none of these items should be kept in the nursery when you are trying to get your little one to fall asleep!
Many things can disrupt the process of improving your baby’s sleep, with distractions being a significant contributor. Let’s explore the three primary items typically found in a child’s room that could prevent them from achieving a sound night’s sleep.
Mobiles, aquariums and singing/musical toys
When I was a first time mom, I was given the Baby Einstein Sea Sea Soother Aquarium. I was guaranteed by the gift giver that it was a lifesaver. So, I dutifully attached it to the side of the crib (not promoting safe sleep guidelines) and waited to reap the benefits. But, not too soon after, I was awoken in the middle of the night by strange sounds coming from the baby monitor. I went to my daughter’s room to investigate and there she was, at 2 am playing with her aquarium and having a grand old time. Needless to say, I removed the aquarium the very next morning. There are many products on the market that swear to have the ability to lull your baby into blissful sleep using music, sounds and flashing lights. The challenge here is twofold:
- All of these toys and devices are more of a distraction than relaxing. Think about it, why would I want to sleep when there are so many fun things to look at and listen to? However, if your baby is placed into a dark and relatively quiet environment (I love white noise), there is nothing to distract them from falling asleep or possibly keep them awake in the middle of the night.
- These devices could become a sleep prop and you’ll need to wind it up or restart it throughout the night to get your baby back to sleep. This creates what I deem a vicious cycle of lost sleep.
Again, when I was a first time parent, I read that a baby shouldn’t sleep in absolute darkness and that the womb wasn’t a dark place. So I kept a very dim light on in my daughter’s nursery. I forgive my past self as I was sleep deprived and my brain function was not at top processing speed. I have no idea what I was thinking…and I am quite sure now that whatever it was, I read it incorrectly. We as humans are meant to sleep in absolute darkness. The darker the better and this holds true for babies and small children. When I am working one-on-one with families I coach them on what a dark room should look like when doing a nursery assessment. This even includes placing small pieces of black electrical tape over power lights on devices within the room. I’ve witnessed many little ones awake in the middle of the night and staring at a power light because they are curious…and now fully awake. Let’s keep those distractions to a minimum with a dark room.
I also want to quickly note that if you have a toddler or preschooler who asks for a nightlight, that is completely fine. Just be sure that the nightlight you place in their room is an amber/orange in color and dim. Amazon has plenty of options at reasonable prices.
This is a big one in my book. Many adults (my husband included) have the bad habit of falling asleep on the couch while the TV is on. Some have the TV on in their room when they climb in bed for the night (I was guilty of this once upon a time). They claim that the white noise quality of the background noise helps lull them to sleep. For a baby or small child, the television (or tablet) is usually loud, and full of stimulating movement and blue light (which is stimulating to the brain all on its own). Harvard Medical School Publishing states that “blue light can affect your sleep and potentially cause disease.” Also, “at night, light throws the body’s biological clock – the circadian rhythm – out of whack. Sleep suffers.” For this very reason, I am a huge advocate for eliminating screen time 1 hour before bed and removing all electronics from the bedroom or nursery (or at the very least unplugging them).
If you are looking to improve your little ones’ sleep and possibly your own, I recommend evaluating how you prepare to go to sleep each night and eliminating the sleep-stealers from the bedroom. For sleep training to be the most effective, it is important to create an environment conducive to sleep, which, in the end, will make for a much more relaxed and rested family!
As always, I am here to help and provide support to families who are struggling with sleep. When I first became a mom, my world was rocked (and not in a good way) by my sleep deprivation. It’s because of my struggle, diagnosis and treatment for postpartum depression and anxiety, that I now devote my life’s work to helping moms around the Globe improve their little one’s sleep using respectful and gentle sleep solutions via the Gift of Sleep Staylistening Approach. If you found your way to my blog because your little one is not sleeping well, schedule a FREE call with me and let’s chat. Help might be just a phone call away.