So where is your precious bundle going to sleep? The crib is an obvious possibility, but definitely not the only one and probably not the best. Options include: your bed, a “nest” in your bed, a co-sleeper, a bassinet, a cradle and a crib. Whew! So let’s see here…
- Your Bed: Co-sleeping is a controversial subject, but popular amongst attachment-parenting families. It’s very “natural” in the sense that it’s the norm in most cultures. I was attracted to the idea while pregnant with my first baby because I wanted baby near for breastfeeding and bonding. Well, we decided on day 1 or 2 (“days” are pretty fuzzy in the beginning) that co-sleeping did NOT work for us. I could not relax with baby in the bed. Every noise caught my attention and I didn’t feel we had enough space. If you’re going to co-sleep, I recommend a king-sized bed!
- Nest in your Bed: If you really want to co-sleep, but you’re worried about baby’s safety, you can create a safe environment for baby with the Snuggle Nest. This baby bed is placed on your bed, so baby can sleep without getting squished between daddy and mommy. I never tried one of these, but you’d definitely need a big bed. I suggest you try co-sleeping without a nest first, because most parents are instinctively aware and protective of their child’s presence in the bed.
- Co-Sleeper: These are three-sided cribs that attach to the side of mommy’s bed so baby is close, yet everyone has their own space. I really wanted an Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper when I was pregnant with my first child but I didn’t love the look for the price. I was glad I didn’t bother, because you can use a normal crib in a similar way. Just place the crib against the bed with the rail lowered as far as possible. The rail creates a short barrier that keeps a very young baby in the crib, while making nighttime feedings convenient.
- Bassinet: The bassinet is my favorite choice for baby’s first bed. It’s small, which saves space if you want it beside your bed; movable, so baby can nap wherever you’d like; and convenient for breastfeeding moms. It’s true that you have to sit up to reach baby for nighttime feedings, unlike co-sleeping. However, this boundary prevents sporadic nursing and the tendency for co-sleeping babies to habitually nurse themselves to sleep. I like my sleep. Encouraging healthy, lengthy sleep patterns for baby is a priority to me. I believe it’s easier to teach baby to self-soothe and to go to sleep independently if mom and baby aren’t lying side by side throughout the night.
- Cradle: Cradles are like a bassinet, but with a rocking feature. These always seem a bit dangerous to me if you have other children in the house. Low, floor-level cradles leave baby at the level of curious tots. High, old-fashioned cradles can rock quite a bit, to the point that a sibling could rock the whole thing over. It’s true that babies love to be rocked, but they find repetitive motion in general to be soothing. My bassinet could be “jiggled” in a way that always soothed my babies. This hybrid, called the Nini Nanna Bassinet seems to limit the rocking motion to a safe minimum.
- Crib: Really, the crib is one of the worst choices for baby’s first bed. Sorry! New babies are soothed by a small, close surround. They are lost in a large, open crib. A crib is pretty big to fit in your room. If baby sleeps in his own room, you’ll be spending most of your night in another room for the first 2-4 months (at least). Move baby to the crib when she’s outgrown the bassinet. Hopefully by then she’ll be sleeping through the night too!
One last thing. When it comes to baby’s first bed, pay attention to the mattress! Most baby mattresses are made out of vinyl and polyurethane, including those mattresses that come with the products I’ve mentioned. To be blunt, these materials are completely toxic, definitely can cause allergies/asthma and have been linked with SIDS. It’s RIDICULOUS and sad that most babies sleep on this toxic combination for 10-14 hours a day. To learn more visit my info page What’s Wrong with Conventional Mattresses?.