– Dr. EeVon Ling, ND, YDD Doula and Sleep Consultant
Expectant parents can easily get caught up in getting all the things for their baby. When thinking about what you’ll need in preparing for baby, the item of consideration should answer the following question:
“How is this going to make my life EASIER as a parent?”
(Yes, yes, developmental benefits for your baby are important too, but the reality is that babies, especially newborns, need very few things outside of diapers, clothing, food, a safe place to sleep and YOU).
When working with expectant families, I am of the mindset of making things easier for the parents (because raising a baby is very hard work!) and this should extend to arranging the home so it can maximize sleep for everyone.
Here are my top tips to help prepare your home for sleep with your new baby:
- Have various safe options of where a baby can sleep.
Your baby can sleep anywhere, it does not have to be in a bedroom. Having alternative sleep locations gives you flexibility. If your home has several rooms or different levels, having these options could also be safer because your baby can always be near you.
Here are some suggestions:
- Pack-n-play (also called a playard)
- Bassinet for stroller
- Baby box (on the floor) with a mat that fits tightly on the bottom
- Empty laundry basket (on the floor) with a mat that fits tightly on the bottom
- Floor mat or floor mattress in the middle of the room away from the wall and other furniture and pets.
Having on-the-go options are particularly useful:
- Age appropriate carrier (with head support and you should be able to see the baby’s airways while being carried)
- Stroller that lies flat or has a bassinet (could be used indoors too)
**A safe sleep location is one where the baby can lie flat on their back, there is no risk of falling out, getting entrapped in a tight space or being strangled or suffocated, and there are no blankets, loose fabric, stuffies or very soft surfaces (these can all pose as suffocation risks). There are many things that parents use for baby that are not considered safe (such as swings, dock-a-tot, baby bouncer, car seat, any surface that is very soft or that is inclined etc). If you are using such things, it is important that your baby is supervised by an awake adult.
- Have alternative places for the other parent to sleep.
Here are some suggestions:
- A couch that converts into a bed (such as futon sofa or pull-out couch, or at least a couch with a firm base of cushions long enough for an adult to sleep comfortably on for many nights)
- A twin sized mattress for the floor (If you think you’ll use it regularly, it should be a proper mattress versus a blow-up mattress or cot.) The mattress can later be used by the child when they are older. It can also be moved around as needed.
This suggestion of a separate sleeping place usually surprises (even shocks) many families. Some feel it’s “unfair” if one of them (usually the dad or non-breastfeeding parent) gets to sleep while mom has to stay up all night with the baby. It’s only unfair if the sleepless parent is also expected to take care of the rest of the house and family at full capacity. The intention here is that the fully rested parent can do all the other house chores while the exhausted parent (usually mom or the breastfeeding parent) only has to focus on resting and feeding the baby.
It is also my belief that 1 fully rested parent is better than 2 very exhausted parents.
I am going to fully disclose what we did after we had our first baby. Our first born child was a terrible sleeper (a-breastfeeding-waking-every-hour-terrible-kind-of-sleeper). We initially all slept in the same room. But my husband has a fundamental need for more sleep than me. He also had a job that required his full alert attention. And he was fully hands on with taking care of our dog and housework. So, we made the decision of buying a futon couch for the living room and he would sleep there full-time for nearly 4 years (we had 2 children). This was the best decision for us. At the very least, we had a proper extra bed for anyone to sleep on if needed (for a while we switched when the second baby arrived, and I slept out on the futon in the living room with the baby sleeping in the stroller bassinet next to me). Having these options is what saved us, especially living as a family of 4 in a 700sq ft condo.
Now, even as I’ve made these suggestions, I don’t advise that you immediately run out and buy a bunch of new stuff. In fact, you can wait and see how it goes after the baby is born. Keep these suggestions in the back of your mind in case you need a solution.
If you would like to feel more fully prepared for sleep with your newborn I offer the Prenatal Newborn Sleep Program and Home Assessment. It’s a great way to prepare you home and your mind for life with a newborn.
And if after your baby is born you need help with any sleep challenges, I also offer sleep consultations. All services are eligible for benefits coverage as naturopathic services.
If you’d like to learn more, book a free 15 min meet and greet with me!