The bed and their bedding is an environment they will spend a lot of time in and it is appropriate that this is carefully thought out. Personally, I have found the best beds for a baby are a tea tree mattress or futon. Both are made from natural fibres, have low allergic possibilities, are firm enough to support the baby and can be moulded to snuggle the baby into a comfortable position for sleep. Use a wool underlay for warmth, light cotton sheeting and blankets as covering for a child under 1 year. Since a baby spends the bulk of their time sleeping for the first few months, the environment they will spend most of this time in is the place where you put their basket or cot. The different night time sleeping arrangements were discussed in the section on sleeping - "In With, Near, or Away from Mother".
During sleep, the most important factors which can disturb a child are light, noise and movement. One should consider how you would feel if someone came in and turned on the light when you were asleep, made loud noises nearby or picked up your bed and carried it around from place to place, yet all these things are done frequently to sleeping babies! For day time sleeps, simply covering a basket, basinet or cot with a cloth enough to exclude the harsh light is sufficient. There is no need to make the room as dark as night as the depth and quality of day and night time sleeps for a baby is meant to be different.
During their day sleeps, the best set up is one whereby you can get on with the activities of your life at the same time as having peace of mind about your baby's well being. Rather than a whole dedicated nursery room in which the baby always sleeps (with an intercom to wherever you are in the house), I consider a portable basket (covered with mozzie net and / or cloth to exclude insects and the light) located near what you are doing is a better alternative for the first few months.
Fear of separation is a baby's greatest insecu-rity and even before they become conscious of this fear (at about 8 months) they still react to any sense they are alone or might even be left alone. Having them sleep near you both day and night alleviates that fear, since they first learn to equate certain ambient noises with your proximity. Once they become too conscious of their surroundings and
too big for a carry basket, around 2 - 3 months, they are ready to move a little further away from you - during the day at least.
The next environment outwards from their bed of which they become conscious is their sleeping quarters. After the basket-near-you phase, there will need to be a room, or even several places within the house where your baby can be put to sleep in isolation as you go about your day. I used to find that on summer days rooms on the south side of the house were far cooler, darker and worked better for a baby's day sleeps than the other rooms I used for wintry days on the north side of the house. Having one set "baby's room" stops this kind of flexibility and also limits the activities which can go on around your house when the baby is asleep, hence the portable basket system is still a good option up until 3 months.
Up to about 6 months, all they see upon waking is the ceiling, the wall, or their bed side. Beyond that age, when they are able to sit up and look around at the décor, the mood the ambience of the room is important to their psyche.
Imagine you are an 8 month old baby. You have just woken up from a deep sleep. You open your eyes, see that it is daytime (you have no idea which part though). You see the familiar ceiling, walls and decorations around your bed, you realise that you are awake and alone. You sit up. If what you see is alienating, you will want to get out of it quickly and will soon call for attention. If, however, what you see is relaxing and consoling, then you will feel more relaxed about just staying there for a while. If what you see is bright and stimulating and desirous, then you will want to get out of bed as soon as possible and get "into it".
When baby's wake up, they can have all kinds of reactions. Those who are not hungry may immediately call for company, but if they are comfortable with themselves and their immediate environment, they are often quite happy to amuse themselves, to just lie or sit, listen and wonder, gurgle or sing, or just be until they are attended to. I think it is very important that children are brought up to be happy to wait in their beds and not expect immediate company and attention every time they wake. One way to assist this is not to make their room look like a cross between a Playschool TV set, a McDonald's Playground,