Allowing your baby to sleep in your bed with you may be convenient, but it can also be quite dangerous, warns the March of Dimes. Your baby should sleep in the same room as you and your partner, but she should be in her own bed, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. She could sleep in a crib, a bassinet or a cradle next to your bed. If you're breastfeeding or just want your baby closer to you, another option is to buy a co-sleeper, which attaches to your bed.
Determine what type of bedside sleeper you prefer. Co-sleepers attach to or fit up snugly next to your bed. You could also opt for purchasing your baby a crib, playpen or bassinet that can be placed beside your bed.
Research and weigh the pros and cons of each type of bed. A crib is the largest type of baby bed, which means it can be used as your baby grows. The size also means it's bulky and takes up more room. A playpen is a bit smaller, so it takes up less room, but it can be harder reaching down to pick up your newborn out of a playpen. Bassinets are a good option if you want something compact that can be placed next to your bed, and they can be moved from room to room. A bassinet can generally be used only for the first five months, though. A co-sleeper gives your baby her own sleep space and you the convenience of having her within arm's reach for nighttime feedings, but it's not practical if you are looking for something that can be moved around to other rooms.
Measure the height of your bed to determine how high you need the bedside sleeper to be. A co-sleeper that attaches to your bed must adjust to that height for safe use.
Consider safety before looks when shopping at local baby stores, furniture stores or mass merchants and websites that sell baby products. Look for products that bear the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association to ensure they've been tested and are considered safe for your baby, advises the American Academy of Pediatric's website HealthyChildren.org. Find a bassinet with a sturdy bottom and a wide base to prevent it from tipping over. Look for a crib that doesn't have a drop side, bars that are no more than 2 3/8 inch apart, no cut-outs on the foot board or headboard and corner posts that are even with the sides of the crib. Search for a playpen that has automatically locking rails, or a co-sleeper that has at least a low side rail, even if you plan to connect it to your bed.
Use the mattress that comes with your baby's bed or purchase a mattress that fits it snugly if it came without one. There should be no empty space between the mattress and the sides of the bedside sleeper, and the mattress should be firm instead of soft.
Tips & Warnings
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully to put your chosen bedside sleeper together after you purchase it. Read the safety manual and follow the recommendations given about how to properly and safely use the bed.
- Never place thick blankets, pillows, stuffed toys or other items inside your baby's bed, warns the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.