Ask anybody 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.
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1. 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-hued nurseries are trending. If you hang curtains, ensure they are far away from the crib and secure cords.
2. 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 the 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.
Our pick: Marpac Hushh Portable Sound Machine, $29.95
The rules for optimizing grown-up bedrooms for sleep also apply to the baby's room. Make sure there are no screens or blue lights in the room while the baby is sleeping because they disrupt sleep and mess with internal clocks. If the 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.
4. Dimmable Lights
If possible, opt for dim-able lights in the baby's room, which allow you to control how light or dark it is at different times of day and even help the baby fall asleep. For example, you can set the lights to low but not out while you get the 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.
Another option is to get a small dimmable table lamp. Out of many, the Hatch Baby is a 3-in-1 lamp that's a night light, a sound machine, and a time-to-rise light. Place this lamp next to your baby's crib to add a soothing, dimmable light by their bedside.
Our pick: Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine, $99.99
Keep baby from getting too hot or too cold by ensuring 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 ensure the temperature is right for their comfort.
Our pick: LEVOIT Humidifier, $89.99
6. Rocking Chair
Lastly, don't just register for a 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 the baby to their crib once they've (finally) fallen back asleep. We love Phoenix Convertible Rocking Chair & Ottoman from Pottery Barn Kids for a timeless look that will continue to fit into the room as your child grows.
Having your newborn close is a luxury comfort every new parent wants to enjoy. The HALO Bassinest Premier is equal parts stylish and functional. A bassinet is perfect to keep the baby close to the bed so you can gently soothe and tend your baby overnight. It also comes with side pockets to keep all essentials in easy reach. Plus a nightlight, music sounds, and vibration to keep your baby sleeping all night long.
8. Mattress Pad
It's often overlooked, but the right mattress can make a huge difference in your baby's sleep routine. The best mattress pad is 100% breathable and waterproof, so it protects your baby (and your crib) if any accident happens. Babies sleep better on stiffer mattresses that provide more comfort and stability.