5 tips for creating a kid's sleep sanctuary

Amber LoRe
Mar 20 2020

With so many families staying at home during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to ensure that everyone gets the sleep they need. Not only is getting sufficient sleep important for our immune systems, but it’s also essential for mental health and wellbeing. 

Here are our top tips for setting up your child’s bedroom and ensuring the best foundation is in place for quality sleep both day and night:

1. Provide Background Noise

We often recommend using continual background noise during sleep times. While “white noise” machines and apps are the typical go-to, “pink noise” is often considered the better choice because it tends to be smoother across frequency and less staticy. 

Whether you opt for white/pink noise, ocean waves or classic rain sounds, the background noise can provide a strong cue for children that it’s time for sleep. The noise can also help muffle household sounds that can get in the way of high-quality sleep. This can be especially important for families with multiple children now at home during the day or when you have dogs that refuse to honor the sanctity of naptime.

Place the white noise machine in between your child’s sleep space and the likely source of noise, rather than right by your child’s head. 

2. Darken the Room

Exposure to light plays a huge role in regulating our circadian rhythm. Once your child is beyond the day/night confusion stage (this typically resolves within the first eight weeks), we recommend keeping the bedroom very dark for sleep times. This can help regulate your child’s schedule, lengthen naps and cut down on early waking. 

There are lots of options on the market to consider, including blackout curtains, blackout blinds and blackout shades. You’ll want to ensure that there’s enough coverage on the window so that lots of light doesn’t sneak in around the edges. Ideally it will be too dark to read a book.

3. Adjust the Room Temperature

We recommend aiming for 68-72F in your child’s bedroom. When a child is too warm during sleep, we tend to see an increase in nightmares and night terrors.

4. Consider Night Lights

While, yes, we do typically recommend a very dark room for optimal sleep, there are some instances in which you’ll want to use night lights. Since parents of newborns may be feeding and changing their baby frequently throughout the night, they might consider a motion activated night light by the changing area or feeding area. This will ensure some dim light when you need it, and darkness the rest of the time. 

Preschool age children may also feel more secure with a night light or two as they start developing normal childhood fears and anxieties. Since blue light can suppress melatonin production (a key hormone for circadian rhythm regulation), we recommend using a night light with low or no blue light if possible.

5. Quiet Those Doors

If you’ve ever gotten your child to fall asleep only to be foiled by a squeaky hinge when you were leaving the room, you’ll understand the importance of attending to loud doors ahead of time. You can address squeaky hinges with a rust dissolving lubricant, like WD-40. No WD-40? No problem. For those of us staying at home, practicing social distancing, you can also try a bit of cooking spray or oil (coconut or olive for example) to quiet those hinges.

If your child’s bedroom door tends to shut loudly, try placing a few felt pads along the inside of the door frame. Since not everyone had leftover felt furniture pads laying around, you can also use a large rubber band as a cushion to soften the sound of a loud door. Secure one rubber band around the doorknobs on each side of the door (ensure it doesn’t interfere with the door latch).

A note about your child’s sleep:

While these tips can help set the proper foundation for healthy sleep, they won’t solve sleep issues related to schedule problems or sleep onset associations. Huckleberry Premium was created to make sleep consultations for children more affordable for families. We take into consideration the uniqueness of every family's lifestyle as well as their sleep goals when working to create a successful sleep plan. If you are interested in more personalized analysis and guidance for your child, sign up for Huckleberry Premium.

About the Author:

Amber LoRe is a pediatric sleep consultant with Huckleberry. She's always considered herself an advocate for children - from early jobs in daycare to her work as a family law attorney. She's been helping families get more sleep since 2011 and never gets tired of hearing success stories from happy clients. Amber lives outside NYC with her husband, their two awesome children and their rescue pup.