Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Creating a Sleeping Sanctuary for Your Baby

Fundamental to our sense of well-being and our ability to parent is a good night's rest and yet, that is just what many new parents lack. When parents look for support, their home is usually not the first thing that comes to mind, but how you choose to arrange your baby's nursery, and what you place in the nursery, can influence how well your baby, and therefore you, sleep.

Below are simple suggestions for creating a nursery that will encourage a peaceful sleep- ensuring your baby's well-being, as well as your own.

One challenge when creating a nursery is designing a room that accommodates two very different activities, sleeping and playing. At night you will want to make sure the room can be easily transitioned into a "sleep" room. Make sure the room has proper shelves, cabinets, bins and baskets so you can "quiet down" the room at night by storing your child's playthings. Also, pay particular attention to design elements that are not easily changed, such as a mural. A large, very active mural may be overwhelming for a baby. Children have no problem livening up the room at playtime with colorful toys- but at nighttime, the mural will be hard to change. Similarly, avoid too many moving, flying objects such as a toy airplane flying toward the crib or train tracks overhead. Even a mobile is best placed over the changing table versus the crib. Also avoid crib linens with very busy, action-themed patterns.
You will of course want the nursery to be safe. In addition to essential cautions such as securing cords, covering outlets, installing smoke detectors -to name a few- also consider "perceived dangers". Perceived danger is anything that cannot actually harm us, but that makes us feel uneasy each time we look at it, such as a crib placed in front of a low window or a heavy chandelier hanging over the crib. Even though we know a newborn cannot jump out of the crib and a heavy chandelier that is secured will not fall- these things still make us uncomfortable. Sharp angles or corners near the crib are also examples of perceived dangers. Choose furniture with rounded edges and soften any sharp angles caused by protruding walls with fabric, curtains, mobiles or crystals. Balance the extreme energy of ceiling beams by painting the beams white, or softening the beams with fabric and placing the crib so it is not directly beneath a beam.
In many ways our homes are an extension of our bodies and therefore part of the mind/ body connection. Choose healthy materials to furnish your nursery. Low VOC paint, solid wood furniture, natural area rugs, organic linens, air filters and an organic mattress are all things to consider. In addition open windows daily to allow chemicals to exit and fresh air to enter. Use natural products to clean the nursery.
Place the crib in "Command Position." In Feng Shui it is believed that we are most comfortable when we have a view of the door so we can relax fully knowing we will not be startled from someone approaching us from behind. Locate the crib so that your baby has a view of the door, but is not in the direct path of the door. Also make sure the crib is positioned with at least one side (preferably two) against a solid wall(s). This will help your baby feel more secure and protected.
Color contributes to the energy in the room and affects our emotions. Paint the walls soothing colors such as blue, lavender or other pastels for a restful relaxed atmosphere- save the vibrant colors for accents.
ake sure you can block out the light with heavy curtains or shades. Ideally you will want a variety of lighting options so that you can block out direct sun when the baby is awake, (newborns are sensitive to light), but keep the room very dark for naps and in the early morning.
Cleanse the energy in the room periodically. One sleepless night tends to lead to another sleepless night if the energy is not shifted. Open windows, let in fresh air or lightly spray some water with a few drops of lavender essential oil (after the baby is six weeks old- check for sensitivities or allergies) to freshen the room setting the intention that you are clearing the air and restoring peace.
Keep the room simple by clearing clutter (which stagnates energy) and avoid electronic equipment, which can also interfere with good sleep.
If you live in a noisy area, consider installing double pane windows or heavy curtains to block out street noise. You can also purchase a white noise machine to mask household sounds, like creaking floors or other children playing.
Create a pleasing view from the crib. Especially as your baby gets older what she sees when she first wakes up in the morning and what she sees last before going to sleep will influence her "view" on life. Uplifting artwork, or a view of a tree outside a window are both examples of positive views.
Create a nighttime ritual. Putting toys away, dimming lights, closing curtains and taking a bath can all become part of the nighttime routine. Talk to you baby and explain what is happening and what is expected. For example, you might say "Now we are preparing your room for bedtime, we are going to take a bath and put on your night clothes, then it will be time to sleep for 12 hours." Your baby will not only be comforted by your voice and knowing what to expect next, but also setting the intention for a good night always help!
Remember, your baby is transitioning from a womb into the world. The more nurturing, soft, warm and comfortable your baby's surroundings the better. And above all- enjoy the process! Your baby will feel all the love, positive energy and mindfulness you bring to the process of creating this very special room.

Home and life design experts, sisters, and co-founders of The Art of Everyday Living Laura Forbes Carlin and Alison Forbes have created the ultimate guide for expectant parents in their new book The Peaceful Nursery: Preparing a Home for Your Baby with Feng Shui, to be published as a Delta Trade Paperback Original on February 28, 2006. In this fully-illustrated, colorful guide, filled with gorgeous photos and quick reference charts, the authors show parents-to-be how to unite the basic principles of Feng Shui with healthy living to create a warm and nurturing nursery.

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