Taking a sensory approach to the sleep environment is a secret of mine that yields tremendous results in all the sleep coaching I do with no discomfort, tears, or disconnection (part of the Sage Sleep secret sauce, if you will). When setting up your child’s sleepscape, think about that environment through a sensory lens, considering all 5 senses.
Not all little ones need a nightlight but the natural fear of our nocturnal predators makes bringing one into the space wise.
Orange/red/yellow hues trigger sleepiness while white/blue hues trigger awakening.
Forgo the stimulation of bright primary colors and graphic design accents in favor of a soothing surround. Neutrals, low contrast, softness, cleanliness, openness, and warmth all convey a cozy and peaceful sleepscape.
Clothing is the only other thing that can be in your child’s sleepscape (in the sleeping room). Clothing should be tidy and folded or hung in a dresser or closet.
A changing pad can be on the dresser with diapers, wipes, and coconut oil in the top drawer.
The sound of your nearby beating heart and breathing is the song of comfort to a baby who even goes so far as to use those cues to set their own rhythms. A sound machine with sounds of the womb, nature (I recommend starting with whale sounds), calming music (60 bpm) or even white noise can help to soothe your little one through those sleep cycle transitions.
Like the nightlight, an on button that your little one can easily master creates a wider path for independence.
Fitted sheet only in infancy (be mindful of what fabric is comfortable to your little one with the sheet)
Pillows and a blanket for your comfort can be set down just off the sleep surface when you are not in shared company with your baby or well out of their sleep zone if sharing the master bed.
Lots of pillows and blankets can be present in the space as your child grows.
Be mindful of what fabric, tightness, and level of dress is comfortable for your little one.
Around 72 degrees is a sweet spot for many but be mindful of what room temperature results in the best sleep for your little one.
No stuffed animals on the sleep surface in infancy
A special stuffed animal (or muslin) can be a great lovey, or alternate sleep cue association, that you cuddle during your bedtime routine and then plant in the sleep garden for your little one to turn to when they wake during the night. You can set it just off the sleep surface or just out of the sleep zone during early infancy and then cuddled up with your babe as they grow.
Board books that you read during the bedtime routine and then plant in the space can be yet another cue for sleep that fills your little one with all those feelings of security and love.
As your child grows a more substantial collection, reading at bedtime helps to relax the body, occupy a busy mind, and trigger imagination for the dream world, all while reminding their subconscious of the secure connection you have shared.
Nursing should be available throughout the night as needed.
A cup of water they can manage can be a helpful addition for a thirsty little one around 1.
An essential oil diffuser with lavender or chamomile can add to the calm and relaxation.
Your scent is the most relaxing scent to your little one so the more of your essence that is in the sleepscape, the more soothed your baby is with every inhale. Place the shirt you wore that day nearby or stuff your babe’s lovey in your bra in the evening and you will blanket the sleeping space with your intoxicating scent.
Spend time connected with your little one in this restful space to extend all those feelings of security and warmth (including bonding hormones and brain chemicals) from your arms to the entire room.
and step off the mainstream path of disconnection and dysfunction and onto the path of rest, connection, and independence.
[This post contains links to products I find useful. These are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase on Amazon using the links, I receive a small fee and you help to keep this blog running. Thank you for the support!]