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Hey, hey!

I'm Michele DiSpirito

I've been where you are.

Tired. No. Exhausted! Frustrated and confused as to what to do with an adorable little one that just. won't. sleep.

I'm a mom to two boys under 4, wife to Kyle for 14 years, and all about getting some good sleep for us all! While struggling to make sleep consistent and a reality with my oldest, I scoured the internet for answers and was left more frustrated and confused than when I started. I wanted a clear path; someone I trusted to just tell me what to do, how to do it, and when. What I wanted was what I'm here to be for you today - a Pediatric Sleep Consultant.

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Creating the Perfect Sleep Environment Part 2

In Part One of this series I shared the 5 must-haves for every child’s room (and most are helpful for any adult’s room as well!) and why they’re “must-haves”.


Here, in Part Two, I’m sharing the “how” - ways to achieve that optimal sleep environment through some DIY and a few of my favorite products.


>> affiliate links <<


Pitch-black Dark Room


This one is pretty easy for the nighttime sleep, but can be a little trickier during the day for naps.


For instance…


What about those bedrooms with the gorgeous picture windows?


Or the window that faces east?


Or the bedroom door that looks like it’s part of a scene from a sci-fi movie? (You know, because of the bright light shining around it…)


The fastest and cheapest way to blackout the windows is to either:

  1. Use painter’s tape to tape tinfoil directly to the glass of the window (talk about sci-fi) or

  2. Use painter’s tape to tape black trash bags either directly to the glass or over the blinds so those are what’s seen from the outside. Hanging curtains will hide the trash bags from the inside.


I recommend doing either of these immediately, whether you decide to get something more permanent or not, just to get the room dark dark dark today.


For a more esthetically pleasing and long-term fix, I recommend a few different products that won’t cause your neighbors to question your mental health.


BlackoutEZ Shade - These shades come in various sizes, even custom sizes are available, and velcro either directly to the glass of your window or over your window around the frame.


Pros:

  • fairly inexpensive

  • easily removable so you can let in the sunlight

  • the side that faces the outside is white so it’s esthetically pleasing

  • they’re easy to install

Cons:

  • for some people, the adhesive to the velcro doesn’t last with constant use.

  • when you remove them from the window you’ll need a place to put them.

Paper blackout shades - These accordion-style paper shades come in two sizes and can be cut to snuggly fit in the window.


Pros:

  • they’re easy to install

  • they’re attached to the window so you don’t have to store them somewhere else when you’re wanting to let in the light

  • they’re esthetically pleasing

Cons:

  • you have to accordion fold them and clip them up when you want to open the window

  • some people reviewed that the adhesive doesn’t hold up well in warmer climates

  • they can be easily torn (especially in a toddler’s room!)

  • If not cut just the right size, light can still peek around the sides.

Static cling window film - A non-adhesive static cling window covering


Pros:

  • Easy to install

  • No mess

  • No permanence. This is ideal if you rent your home.

Cons:

  • You can’t remove it and put it back on daily.

  • If not cut just the right size, light can still peek around the sides.

Indow Windows - A custom-made window covering that fits perfectly into the inset of your window


Pros:

  • Easy to take on and off daily

  • A lifetime investment

  • Leaves no marks on or around the window

Cons:

  • Expensive

  • Requires a technician to come measure your window

But what about around the bedroom door?


Good question! Especially in older homes (🙋‍♀️), the gap around the bedroom door can be fairly wide, allowing light to peek through. Thankfully, there are a few easy ways to fix that!


  1. For a quick fix, use a twin-sized fitted sheet. It fits perfectly over the door.

  2. Use weather stripping around the doorframe and/or a draft stopper under the door.

  3. Hang a blackout curtain on the outside of the doorway.


“Yay! I got it 99.9% dark…. What about those power lights on the baby monitor and other electronics?”


>> Electrical tape!<<


Some devices have settings that allow you to turn off the power light. If not, cover that bulb with black electrical tape!


White Noise & Cool Room


This one unfortunately has no DIY, but there are a variety of options for a sound machine that surely one will fit the budget nicely.


  1. This first one not only helps with the sound, but, in addition to your heating and air, can help with the temperature of your child’s room - a box fan! This is a three-for-one product, even! It not only provides the soothing white noise, and temperature regulation, it’s been shown to help reduce the risk of SIDS while running during your baby’s sleep times. Studies show they help reduce “rebreathing” of carbon dioxide and, in turn, help reduce the risk of SIDS. (Rebreathing CO2 is a potential cause of SIDS.) 1

  2. The Hatch toddler clock. Don’t let the name “toddler clock” fool you into thinking it is only useful for toddlers. Though they are so useful for toddlers and you’re able to utilize the Hatch’s many functions during that age, the Hatch is a wonderful sound machine for any age group! (And if you’re shopping for your soon-to-arrive baby or baby-younger-than-toddlerhood, having the Hatch from the get-go will get you ahead of the game.) This is the sound machine we use in both our boys’ rooms. It has a variety of sounds available, many of which are perfect for sleep times. In my opinion, they don’t have a mechanical sound to them like other sound machines can. We’ve used the static white noise, but prefer the ocean or the washing machine sounds.

  3. The Yogasleep sound machine (formerly called the Dohm). This is the sound machine Kyle and I use in our room. (Along with the hum of a fan and the baby monitor… white noise overkill? Maybe.) The sound is created with an actual fan, so it has a softer hum and consistent sound unlike some recordings used for other sound machines. As soothing as this sound machine is, it isn’t quite as loud as I prefer for my boys’ rooms. (Plus, we use many of the Hatch functions, not just the sounds.)

Bassinet > Crib > Bed


The AAP recommends that Baby room-share (not bed-share) for the first year of life, but at least for the first 6 months.


It’s good to note that unlike the other recommendations for the prevention of SIDS (lying them on their back to sleep, having a firm mattress, keeping the baby’s sleeping space clear of blankets, toys, and loveys, keeping them cool), this one is more of a protective measure versus a preventative one. It’s like wearing a helmet while riding a bike. The helmet doesn’t prevent an accident from happening, but it’s there to protect you in case you have an accident. So, room-sharing does not prevent SIDS, it only allows you to be present to potentially help if, heaven-forbid, an incident arises. With that said, if, when, and how long your baby room-shares with you is a personal decision that has to be right for you and your family!

If you decide that room-sharing is a good fit for your family, the biggest thing to look for in choosing a bassinet is finding one that has mesh siding on all four sides! Even newborn babies wiggle and move and often end up with their face pressed against the side of the bassinet. Having mesh sides ensures that they’re still able to breathe and prevents rebreathing of carbon dioxide.


Here are some good examples:



Some examples for twins:



Shopping for a crib?


Be sure the bars of the crib are no more than 2 ⅜ inches apart, the sides are at least 26 inches above the mattress support in the lowest setting, and the headboard and footboard are one solid piece (no decorative cutouts or pieces).


For even more specifics on choosing a safe crib for your baby, check out this thorough article recommended by the AAP and written by healthychildren.org.


Video Monitor


One of the greatest things parents of this generation has that past generations didn’t - the video monitor.


I do not recommend any of the “smart”, overly high tech monitors that read your baby’s amount of sleep, breathing, heart rate, etc. unless otherwise advised by your child’s pediatrician. The reason being, they’re often glitchy and, therefore, not very reliable and are best at elevating Mom’s anxiety more than reducing it. The very thing I work to fight against.


So, stick to the basics. (They’re cheaper, too!)


This is the monitor we have and like:



In Conclusion


Sleep is a need and the space to get it needs to be safe, conducive for it, and easily attainable - no matter the amount of time or money you have.


Do you know of a mama that could benefit from this list? Send it her way!


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Good Night Families Sleep Consulting, LLC does not offer medical advice, services, or treatment to its clients.If you are concerned about a medical issue related to your child we urge you to contact your doctor or pediatrician immediately.