By Kathryn Trudeau
Maybe your toddler is just starting to sleep overnight in his/her own bedroom. Or, maybe your child has been sleeping in his nursery from day one -- but you’re ready to transform the nursery into a bedroom fit for a toddler. No matter where you are in your child’s sleep journey, creating a bedroom conducive to sleep is important.
Below, we share the top ten tips to make your toddler’s bedroom more sleep-friendly.
1. Try Blackout Curtains
Did you know that lights (including daylight, household lighting, and light from electronic screens) can delay the onset of melatonin? Melatonin is the sleep hormone that your child needs in order to fall asleep.
Sleep experts suggest avoiding electronic screens for 1-2 hours before bedtime, but what can you do about the sun? As summer draws closer, it’s likely your tot will be going to bed long before the sun sets.
Enter: blackout curtains. Blackout curtains can block the sunlight from coming through the windows, which makes them an excellent choice for mid-day naps and summer bedtimes.
2. Choose a Nightlight Carefully
Sleep experts recommend sleeping in a dark room, but a pitch black room can be troubling for a toddler -- especially if your little one gets up in the middle of the night to use the potty. Using nightlights can make your child feel safe and secure in his own room and make it easier for middle-of-the-night bathroom trips.
Choose a nightlight that is amber-colored. The warm glow reduces stimulation, which means it’ll be easier for your little one to fall back asleep. Use the dimmest setting, if possible.
Avoid bright nightlights that emit cool, blue tones as those can stimulate your child and wake him up.
3. Set the Thermostat at a Sleep-Friendly Temp
Did you know your thermostat plays a role in your toddler’s sleep? (And yours too!) Cool temperatures are ideal for quality sleep. According to a 2019 study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, the ideal temperature for sleeping is between 66 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you’re worried about your toddler kicking off his blankets and getting cold, consider dressing your little one in Flying Squirrel PJs, a wearable blanket pajama that keeps your tot comfortable all night long.
4. White Noise
Ambient noise from outside (e.g., dogs barking, trains rumbling, etc.) or inside the house (hello, older siblings!) is a common obstacle of sleep quality. A white noise machine improves sleep quality by masking sounds around your house or outside. While some white noise machines offer true white noise, some play nature sounds (like a babbling brook) or even heartbeat sounds.
5. Bring Soothing Scents in the Bedroom
For stubborn sleepers, consider bringing soothing scents into the bedroom. Scents such as lavender or cedarwood (or a mix of the two!) are known to promote relaxation. You can scent the air via a diffuser or use aromatherapy stuffed animals.
6. Invest in a Comfortable Mattress, Pillows, and Bedding
No one wakes up refreshed after sleeping on an unsupportive mattress. Invest in a high-quality mattress and pillows for your toddler. When a bed feels heavenly, your little one will be more eager to lay down for bed.
Here are a few tips when researching toddler mattresses:
- Babies under 18 months old should always use a firm mattress to prevent the risk of SIDS.
- If you’re purchasing a mattress for an older toddler, consider looking for an all-in-one bed that can transform from toddler bed to daybed to full bed.
If your child is hesitant about sleeping alone, consider letting him or her pick out the bedding. This makes your child feel invested in the bedroom … and potentially more excited about sleeping in a big girl’s bed or a big boy’s bed.
7. Add an Area Rug
Who doesn’t love a good throw rug? Adding a rug to your toddler’s bedroom can make the entire room seem cozier. This is even more important if your child’s bedroom has hardwood floors. Adding a rug can keep little toes warmer as he’s getting ready for bed.
8. Explore Color Psychology
Color psychology is the study of color (hues) and how it affects human behavior. Some colors stimulate us, while other colors relax us.
Soothing hues include:
- Pale pink
- Baby blue
- Soft, buttery yellow
- Soft grays
- Pastel green (celery green)
Bright, neon, and bold colors can have the opposite effect. This means that a bright red, fire engine theme might not be the most sleep-inducing design scheme.
You can apply color psychology to wall paint, bedding selections, throw rugs, pillows, curtains, and wall art.
9. Consider the Acoustics in the Room
Good insulation can help stop sounds from the rest of your house from seeping into your sleeping toddler’s room. Rooms with hardwood or laminate floors are more likely to bounce sounds around the room. You can help muffle sounds by adding more soft items into the room. This includes curtains, throw rugs, and even canvas art (the fabric of the canvas helps to muffle sounds in the room).
10. Keep a Tidy Bedroom
Although it’s not easy to keep kids’ bedrooms clean (hello, mom of 3 here!), keeping the room tidy can help make the room more conducive to sleep. For example, if your child is struggling to fall asleep and sees his toys on the floor, he might be tempted to sneak out of bed and play. (Ask me how I know!)
Here’s a tip: Keep a toy bin or toy box in the room. Before dinner, do a quick run-through in the bedroom and pick up any toys and place them in the toy bin. After dinner, you can head straight into the bedtime routine instead of having to pick up toys after dinner.
Bonus Tip: Play Outside!
Spending time outside (especially in the morning light) helps to regulate your child’s circadian rhythm. Playing outside can help your child fall asleep easier when it comes time for bedtime.
Which strategies will you try to make your toddler’s bedroom more sleep-friendly?
Kathryn is a self-proclaimed book nerd who has a passion for natural parenting and writing. As a homeschooling mother of two, Kathryn understands the dynamics of a busy family life. She is the founder of the Cor Domum movement, a mission that guides families through life so that they can parent with joy. Read more at www.katietrudeau.com
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