Before I was pregnant, I was obsessed with baby nurseries. All of those pretty pastel rooms on Pinterest, full of limited edition Winnie-the-Pooh prints and soft, sheer curtains made me want to squeal with joy. Every room I pinned while waiting on my baby had the required antique furniture, impossible-to-find vintage art, and a rocking chair that looked like one my great-grandmother would've owned. In hindsight? I wish I had focused more on things to do to a nursery to help a baby sleep.
Because, while an antique rocker looks darling in a nursery, it can really screw up your rocking game when your baby is up at 2 a.m. And if you're not rocking like a pro, then your baby is not going to drift off to slumberland as well as they should. In fact, there are actually several things you can do to your nursery to turn it into a sleep sanctuary for your little one and they don't have to screw up your vision for your baby's room. Nesting is a huge part of being pregnant and prepping for baby, I know, but hear me out on these 13 things you can do to your nursery — you will appreciate the sleep more than you love the stars being projected on the ceiling from a must-have registry item.
1. Add A Sound Machine
You think a nice, quiet area is going to help your baby sleep, but the opposite is true. Although there's been conflicting data over the past few years about whether white noise is too loud for babies, the fact remains that a sound machine can drown out other noisy distractions, like dogs barking and sirens outside, to ensure your little one gets the sleep they need. My own daughter has slept with the sounds of ocean waves crashing for almost two years now, and I don't expect her to stay anywhere overnight without it.
2. Hang Blackout Curtains
I didn't want to go with this option when I was getting my daughter's room ready, because I thought it would ruin her being able to sleep when there was light present. But I was wrong. According to the National Sleep Foundation, blocking sunlight from your child's room triggers their body into thinking it's time for bed, as their melatonin rises without light. Melatonin makes your body more welcome to sleep, helping your little one drift off and get plenty of rest.
3. Add In A Comfy Chair
When those midnight wake-up calls come, you're going to need a comfy spot to relax. You may not think this helps your baby much, but it truly does — if you're comfortable, so is your baby. So find a glider or rocking chair or couch — whatever you absolutely love. Fill it with blankets and pillows or whatever you need to make it as comfortable as possible so you can relax during nighttime feedings or rocking.
4. Keep It Organized
Not only does a clutter-free room help keep it a calm and relaxing environment, but it can also keep your little one from being too disturbed when it's time to change their diaper or put them in dry clothes if there's an accident. When your baby's drowsy as you're changing them, you don't want to stumble over toys or need a light to find the wipes and diapers. Keep everything organized and you'll be able to ease them back into sleep.
5. Add A Fan
Ceiling fans may not win any major design awards, but they're a must for a baby's room. Not only do they help reduce your baby's risk of SIDS, butthe optimal sleeping temperature for a baby is between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, according to The Baby Sleep Site. If you're not ready to drop your AC that low, a fan can help keep your little one cool and comfortable.
6. Install A Dimmer Or Night Light
7. Decorate It In Calm, Soft Patterns
There's a reason why pastels are the go-to palette for a baby's room. The colors and decorations in your little one's nursery can affect their sleep, especially if the room is too stimulating. Although they'll enjoy looking at those rooms during the day, at night, bright colors, spinning objects, and loud, contrasting patterns can be too much for their little brains. Wait until they get a bit older to break out the bold graphic prints.
8. Put In A Baby Monitor
This is more for you and making sure you don't ruin your kid's sleep. Whether you're more comfortable with a standard monitor or a high-tech video one, make sure you feel safe and can relax with your little one sleeping in their room. Nobody wants to wake their kid up because they keep barging in to make sure their baby's still breathing.
9. Keep Toys Picked Up
Not just so you don't trip over them in the middle of the night, but to get your child in the mood for sleep and not play. If there are toys in the crib, you might need to remove those to keep your child both safe, and free from distractions.
10. Take Out The Star Projectors
I know, those projection machines are adorable and the colorful stars filling your little one's room make you happy, but they can also keep your kid awake. They are way too stimulating to create a calm sleep environment and can affect their circadian rhythm with the changing lights and colors, according to The Sleep Foundation.
11. Put In A Humidifer
12. Add An Oil Diffuser
There's conflicting research out there, but The Baby Sleep Site notes that an oil diffuser may help your little one sleep. Lavender especially has some benefits connected to sleep, so if you want to give it a try, make sure you're using pure oils to create a sweet sleep sanctuary.
13. Make It Part Of Your Bedtime Routine
Your baby's nursery can be the perfect sleep oasis, but if it's not part of your little one's bedtime routine, it's not going to matter much. When you're getting your baby ready for bed, head to the nursery and make it part of the routine. Get them in their pajamas, snuggle in your comfy chair, and read a book in the room or sing songs. Whatever your routine is, do it in the room. Your baby will associate their room with sleep and know that it's a place to rest and relax.