How to Make Your Baby's Nursery a Perfect Sleep-Zone

Ask anybody who's been awake with an infant at 2 a.m. (and then again at 3 a.m, 4 a.m., and 5 a.m.): The first few months with a new baby are filled with sleepless nights. When creating your nursery, you may first think about what it will look like and then worry about making sure it's completely safe. But you'll also want to make sure your baby's room is optimized for a good night's sleep — for your sake and theirs.

From lighting to bedding, here are a handful of nursery ideas that might help your fussy sleeper stay asleep just a little longer.

Blackout Shades

Keep light out — particularly during daytime naps — with a set of blackout shades or curtains over each window. They needn't be unsightly, heavy, or dark-colored, either (some retailers can outfit curtains with a blackout layer). When it comes to making sure baby's sleep is as undisturbed as possible, this may be the most important thing to get for the nursery — and it's one reason dark-colored nurseries are trending. If you do hang curtains, make sure they are far away from the crib and cords are secure.

White Noise Machine

If you live in a small house or apartment and the nursery is right near where you'll be hanging out post-bedtime, or if sound carries, start by sound-proofing the nursery as much as possible. Then, get a white noise machine — which can help block out ambient noise and create a soothing environment — and make it part of baby's sleep routine. We recommend itty-bitty versions like the Marpac Hushh Portable Sound Machine. They take up almost no space, and are easily tossed in a bag when you're heading to the grandparents', too.

No-Screen Zone

The rules for optimizing grown-up bedrooms for sleep apply to baby's room, too. Make sure there are no screens or blue lights in the room while baby is sleeping because they disrupt sleep and mess with internal clocks. If baby is sharing your room and you have a TV by your bed, try to tuck their crib in an alcove or part of the space where the screen isn't visible, or hide the TV in a wardrobe. It'll be much better for their sleep health.

Dim-able Lights

If possible, opt for dim-able lights in baby's room, which allow you to control how light or dark it is at different times of day, and even help baby fall asleep. For example: You can set the lights to low, but not all the way out, while you get baby ready for sleep, read a book, sing a lullaby, and place them in their crib. Then, you can safely cross the room yourself before turning out the lights all the way. (No more stubbing your toe on the dresser.) If you don't have a dimmer switch in the nursery, here's what to know about buying one.

Temperature

Keep baby from getting too hot or too cold by making sure the temperature is regulated in their room. Use fans if needed (the white noise will help, too), or run a humidifier if it's dry. Young babies can't sleep with blankets for safety reasons, so you'll need to make sure the temperature is right for their comfort.

Rocking Chair

Lastly, don't just register for rocking chair that looks cute. Invest in a rocker or nursing chair that's comfortable, smooth-gliding, and easy to get in and out of with a sleeping baby. (Actually test it out in the store.) Then, position the rocker with easy access to the crib and nothing in between, so you can quietly and gently transition baby to their crib once they've (finally) fallen back asleep.


Annie Quigley

Annie Quigley is a freelance writer, editor, and poet whose work has appeared in Remodelista, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere.