Imagine you’re finally ready to come home from the hospital with your newborn. Tender, sweet and vulnerable, your little baby is all yours to care for.
As a new parent, you’ll make thousands of decisions about your baby’s care over the course of their lifetime. But, one of the first ones, and most important ones is where your baby will sleep. Will you put your baby in a cozy crib or opt to co-sleep?
It’s a difficult decision to make. In this article, we’ll provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision. In addition to outlining what options are out there for cosleeping and using a crib, we’ll also provide the sleep safety tips you need.
What Is Cosleeping?
With infants, sleep times are never as long as you’d like. You’re groggy. You’re exhausted. The most uninterrupted sleep you’re likely to get is about 2 hours at first. Yes, it gets better. But, the first few months of caring for your baby are marked by difficult nights.
This is the main reason parents choose to co-sleep. Many parents find it easier to keep baby happy, fed and changed if they’re closer to them, or even in bed with them. So, what options are there for co-sleeping?
There are several main co-sleeping options which include:
- Using a co-sleep product such as a DockATot
This type of product creates a small space in the bed exclusively for baby, separating them from risks such as heavy blankets and cracks between the bed and the wall. However, unfortunately, these products are not approved for safe sleep. Why? The baby’s face may get too close to the padding on the sleep device, causing them to suffocate. Even if the baby’s face isn’t covered by the device, the baby may re-breathe carbon dioxide which also causes a type of suffocation.
- Co-sleeper crib or car that attaches to your bed
These products allow you to almost share your bed, while preserving a separate place for the baby. Attaching to your bed on one side, these products allow you to easily reach baby. Some people even modify traditional cribs to fit right next to their bed. This form of co-sleeping is one of the safest options, according to the CDC.
- Keeping baby in your bed with you
All out co-sleeping, also known as bed sharing, means that you share your bed with the baby. While very convenient for breast feeding and keeping an eye on baby, it also comes with risks. Baby might get covered with heavy blankets or get caught in a crack between the bed and the wall. There are recommendations you can follow to make this practice safer. For example, you can eliminate heavy blankets and pillows from the bed. You might also roll up towels to cover up cracks.
According to some parents like blogger Lauren Jimeson, despite the risks of bedsharing, she often does it anyway. She says, “...despite me being well educated on the subject and the risk involved, I’m going to keep doing it...This is because of all three of my children, Macks is the worst sleeper yet.”
Jimeson says she nurses her son back to sleep in the comfort of the bed she shares with her husband. This is very relatable. And it’s also true that it’s safer to sleep in your bed with baby than on a sofa or in an armchair. But, it doesn’t make it safer than putting baby to sleep on their back in a crib. So, what should you know about using a crib? Read on to find out.
What Is It Like To Use A Crib?
Using a crib is the safest, most preferred method for baby to use for unsupervised sleeping. There are a wide variety of cribs available on the market. Most allow you to adjust the crib’s height so that it’s easier to use when your baby’s an infant. As your baby grows, you lower the level of the crib so that the baby can’t get out of the crib on their own.
Cribs allow babies to have their own sleep space. This means you can have better control over the baby’s sleep space and avoid risks. The sides of the cribs prevent babies from rolling out of bed.
Just because you use a crib doesn’t mean you can’t participate in a form of co-sleeping. You can place the baby’s crib in your own room, rather than in a nursery, so that you can enjoy some of the benefits of co-sleeping. This will allow you to hear baby more readily and makes the trip to check on baby shorter.
One mom, Esther Tunes, explains her choice to always use a crib:
"I never brought my kids into my bed — even though it would have been easier. I believe they're safer in their own crib."
Sleep Safety Tips
A major part of what should influence your decision about how your baby will sleep should be safety. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
“3,500 infants die annually in the United States from sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS); ill-defined deaths; and accidental suffocation and strangulation.”
These are sad statistics. However, you can make sure your baby doesn’t form part of these figures by following the safety tips offered by the AAP:
- Make sure baby sleeps on their back.
- The baby’s sleep surface should be firm and free of blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals. Crib bedding should include only a tight-fitting sheet.
- Consider sharing the bedroom with baby. This can reduce the risk of SIDS by 50%.
- Don’t share a sleeping surface with the baby.
- Don’t expose baby to smoke or drugs. Don’t drink alcohol when caring for baby.
- Pacifier use is recommended.
The AAP recommends using a bassinet or crib over other sleeping options. However, do keep in mind that you’ll only be able to use a bassinet for a few months due to their small size.
By following these tips, you can reduce the risks your baby faces while sleeping.
The Bottom Line on Crib vs. Co-Sleeping
For parents, their little one’s safety is usually a top priority that trumps everything else. Although using a crib may require adjustment for the baby at first because they’re a bit further away from caretakers, it’s worth the safety benefits it offers. There’s always the option of placing the crib or bassinet in your bedroom so that you can glance over at baby whenever you wake up in the night.
However, the bottom line is that cribs are the safest choice for putting yoru baby to sleep.