What does the optimal sleep environment for a baby look like?
Coming into winter, one of the most common questions I get is ‘what should my baby wear?’
Let’s start with the basics – you really want your baby’s sleep environment to be calm, relaxed and not too hot/not too cold.
Think about when you go to a day spa for a massage … how relaxing it is – the lights are dim, you never feel too cold and it is really easy to fall asleep. YES that is what we want for our baby.
So start with a nice and dark bedroom. I recommend a 9 on a darkness scale of 1-10. This can help decrease stimulation when babies come to the top of their sleep cycles and can help eliminate early rising when the sun comes up.
I also highly recommend the use of white noise. Low rumbling, natural sounds are best as it can help remind baby of the womb (it is recommended to play a little louder than what you think. Think water rushing over your head in the shower as a comparable volume).
Ideally, the room temperature would sit somewhere between 18 and 22 degrees celsius. What you want to think about is that come 4am-5am is the room still going to be sitting within that range?
A super common outcome of a baby being too cold in the morning is early rising.
Between 3am and 5am is actually the coldest time of the day, so making sure they are still cosy at that time is key.
I always recommend ensuring that everything on baby’s bed and what they are wearing is made of natural fibres. Natural fibres are breathable which means it can help your little one maintain a regular temperature. Polyester, synthetic materials contain the heat, which means babies can sweat a lot, and can lead to them also becoming cold once the sweat soaks into their clothing.
You also need to check your mattress protectors, blankets, baby sleeping bags/suits and clothing. So what should baby wear? Most tog rated sleeping bags will come with a general guide as to what should be worn in what temperature, which is reassuring. Over winter, I would suggest a bodysuit/singlet, then a onesie (long legged/long arms) and then either a 2.5 or 3.5 tog rated sleeping bag (one that meets Australian standards).
A baby that is too hot will sweat on their core body (chest and back). Most professionals would suggest dressing a baby in one layer more than what you would wear yourself, keeping in mind that as an adult we can regulate our body temperature by pulling a doona up over ourselves, or snuggling into our partners arms. Our little babies haven’t yet mastered that yet.
If baby has mastered the rolling skill, a cold baby may tend to roll over onto their tummy and move into a heads down, bottoms up position with their arms tucked in, like a little frog. Also important, as per SIDS guidelines, is to make sure the cot is clear of padded bumpers/pillows, loose sheets and doonas as well as soft toys/teddies to decrease the risk of SIDS.
Lisa Dinnie is a mother of three young children, certified sleep consultant and the founder of Cherish Your Sleep. For more information, visit www.cherishyoursleep.com.au