Finally, at Amma we teach that a good sleeping environment is very dark in order to help your baby produce proper sleep hormones. When you need to tend to your baby at night, choose a red or orange night light, just for tasks, and turn it off when you’re done. If your baby is older and going through separation anxiety or fears, you can use a dim amber night light all night if it helps, but typically the darker the better.
Step 4: Time the move at optimal moments.
For the move to baby’s new sleep space, pick a sleep time that tends to be deep and long when “sleep pressure” is at its peak. “Sleep pressure” is a driver for sleep and in infancy, sleep pressure is strongest at bedtime and for the first morning nap. If your baby tends to start their night with a nice long sleep stretch, or have a predictable good morning nap, these are great times to try sleeping in the nursery. It’s ok to try the new room for only a few sleep episodes, like part of the night or some naps. I call this “practicing”. Eventually they’ll be using their room for all sleep like a champ.
Also, I suggest waiting until your baby is primed for learning a new skill – when they are healthy and there is nothing to interrupt your evening routine. There are six “Sleep Sinkers” that I teach to parents at Amma. They are: teething, travel, illness, developmental milestones, growth spurt and stress in the parent’s life. These are times to avoid disrupting your baby’s routine or transitioning to something new. If your baby is currently experiencing a sleep sinker, don’t worry. Simply continue with your typical sleep routine and sleep cues and plan to start baby’s transition to their own room once things have returned to normal when they might respond better to change.
Step 5: Make adjustments as needed.
If your little one doesn’t react well to your initial attempts to move them to their own room, don’t worry. Give it time and adjust as needed as every little one is different.
If your baby isn’t sleeping well in their new room, try using the room during the day for happy things, like playing, feeding and bonding. Teach your baby that their room is a place to feel secure and loved. Make sure your baby isn’t experiencing any “sleep sinkers,” you’re choosing deep sleep times for practice sessions, and that the room is truly “sleep-friendly” (really dark, white noise, toys out of sight).
Spend time creating sleep associations and routines and try not to rush the change. And most importantly, remember that it is ok to change your plan! You can scrap it and try again later when you’re both more ready for a change. The most important thing that I tell new parents is to trust themselves. You have wonderful caring instincts and know your baby better than anyone – you’re on the same team with your baby and together you’ll figure this out.