Sleep like a baby? You mean terribly?

Anyone who's ever used the expression "sleep like a baby" has clearly never met a baby.  Human newborns, due to a quirk of biology, are all born premature compared to other mammals.  In particular, when it comes to sleep, newborns have underdeveloped nervous systems which is why they have trouble settling themselves.   For a more in depth discussion of this check out the sleep chapter of Baby 411. However that is not the topic of this post.  The topic of this post is how to set up a great sleep environment for your child to help stack the odds of everyone in the house getting some shut eye. 

Black out curtains

Once you've read up on sleep, you'll notice that almost everyone recommends that the room where the baby sleeps be dark.  Often this means acquiring some black out curtains.  However, most people have the baby sleep in the same room as themselves for at least the first 6 weeks if not longer (this is both for SIDS prevention reasons and convenience of night time feedings).   As such, you've probably already acquired whatever curtains you're using for your room.  You may not want to mess with the decor of your room to accommodate its temporary occupant. Likewise, you may have found the perfect cute curtains for your children's room, only to realize they do nothing to shield the room from any light (cough cough... I may or may not have done this...).  Have no fear, this is not a trade off you have to make. You just need to get yourself some Thermalogic Ultimate Window Liners. The great thing about these guys is that they get attached behind your existing curtains. This means you get to keep your decor and have a pitch black room - score!  Additionally, if you've had to get some for your room, you can use the same set for the kid's room once you're ready for them to be on their own.

White noise

Turning on white noise for the baby is another super common (and excellent) recommendation. Not only will this help mask the sound of you shuffling around your apartment while the baby sleeps (and any street noise as well) , but it will also help build some sleep associations for him or her to signal that it's time for sleeping.  For this many people use things like the Sleep Sheep or myBaby SoundSpa.  We, on the other hand, have decided to go in another direction.  We've taken an old, no longer used, cell phone and downloaded a white noise app on it (we use the airplane noise setting but there are many options).  We prefer this solution for a number of reasons.

  1. 1.  You don't have to buy anything new - woot!

  2. 2.  Cell phones are much easier to pack than sleep sheep. (If you're going to stay at someone's house you may not have to pack anything at all if they have an old phone lying around).

  3. 3.  If you forget to pack the spare old phone you normally use for the kids, it's easily replaced with your cell phone. Sure it sucks to have to give it up for the night, probably starting at 7pm (most children's bedtime), but it sucks a lot less than no one sleeping.

  4. 4.  You can also use the old cell phone to play music to your baby (any music you want, not just whatever, if anything, came with the thing you bought). We've found for some reason that our second child naps better with lullabies playing than white noise (though we still use the white noise at night).  This was a trivial accommodation to make using the phone.
And one more bonus suggestion. If your old phone's speakers aren't great, you can always hook it up to a speaker in the kid's room.  We found an adorable GOgroove Portable Stereo Speaker Panda (other animals available) that we've been using for the past 2+ years when we're home (on the road we just use the phone as is).

Good luck, and may the sleep gods be on your side!

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