The Optimal Sleep Environment for your 4-12 Month Old

I love my job because every day is different. No two 4-12 month olds are the same, and everyone comes across unique challenges in their parenting journey. BUT, there’s one thing most parents can agree on: a better sleep would be amazing. You can get there by making your nursery an optimal sleep environment. If you’re looking for a better sleep, whether it be longer sleep, unbroken sleep or just improved quality, the best place to start is with your nursery. Studies have shown people sleep better when their bedroom is optimised for comfort - so it’s only natural that the same goes for bub, too! There are so many elements to consider when it comes to an optimal sleep environment that it can be hard to choose where to start. We get it, and we’re here to give you expert advice to make sure you transition to a better night’s sleep ASAP. We’ve compiled a helpful checklist to support you in creating a safer, noise controlled, light controlled and comfy sleep for baby.

1. Safe sleep

Your baby’s safety is your highest priority, and there are a number of resources online with a wealth of information on safe sleep guidelines, for example the SIDS website. Take some time to familiarise yourself with these guidelines and make sure these precautions are in place. Some of the most important rules are as follows:
  • Always sleep baby on their back
  • Keep head and face uncovered
  • Ensure cot and mattress are safe
  • Place bub’s feet at the bottom of the cot
  • Make sure baby is smoke-free both before and after birth
  • Remove loose blankets, bumper stuffed animals etc from the cot
  • Don’t put baby to sleep on soft surfaces

2. Dark rooms are best for catching z’s

We all know babies are easily stimulated. Incredibly so. That’s why we need to make sure their nursery is dark. Let’s get one thing straight. When we say dark, we mean totally BLACK. If you can sit in there and still see shadows around the room, it’s too light. Something as simple as a patterned sheet or shadows on the wall can be enough to stimulate your child and make them overtired. Hearing this, you might be tempted to delete your nursery inspo Pinterest board and stick to whites and neutrals, but you can most definitely have the best of both worlds. Our biggest recommendation here is to install a Gro-blind on your child’s window. This way, you can pull it back when they wake up and let the natural light in. Alternatively you can blu-tak black cardboard on your window. This dark sleep environment will not only improve sleep quality, but quantity too!

3. Try out some white noise

White noise is, in our opinion, one of the best kept parenting secrets when it comes to creating an optimal sleep environment. We absolutely love it. Fun fact: silence can actually be quite irritating to babies,who are accustomed to sound levels around the same volume of a lawnmower inside the womb. Now, we’re not suggesting you have white noise playing at that level. However, it does need to be around the level of a running shower to be effective. White noise also helps to act as a buffer for disruptive noises like mobile phones ringing, door knocking and noisy siblings. When trying our white noise, choose a sound that is consistent, for example rain. We want it to be the same sound throughout the duration of bub’s snooze. This ensures that they will hear the same sound as they drift in and out of sleep, easing them into their next sleep cycle. Some free apps you can use to have white noise handy in your household include Sleepy Sounds and Sleep Pillow - just remember to switch your device to aeroplane mode when using it for this purpose!

4. Pay attention to temperature

Many a night’s sleep can be ruined by something as simple as a nursery which is too hot or too cold. In fact, many parents go a long time before they realise temperature is the culprit causing wake-ups. The optimal sleep environment for a baby ages 4-12 months is 19-22 degrees, so aim as close to this temperature as possible! If you’d like to keep an eye on the room temperature, many baby monitors include a useful temperature gauge. You can also keep an eye on bub’s behaviour. Some common signs baby is feeling chilly include:
  • Sleeping with their bottoms up in the air,
  • Early rising; and,
  • Excess feeding or urination
They behave in these ways to try and keep warm! To help, you might consider adding a tog appropriate sleeping bag. There are so many more elements to keep in mind when you’re aiming to create the most optimal sleep environment for your baby, including swaddling, sleep props or associations and sunlight. We just couldn’t fit all our sage advice into one blog! To learn more, download our sleep program for 4-12 month olds here. You’ll thank us later.
Back to blog