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Choosing the Right Bed for Your Baby

Updated on September 4, 2012
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Choosing the right bed or sleep space for your baby can be exciting, as well as nerve-wracking. You want to make sure that your baby is comfortable and safe; good sleep is critical to the health and well-being of your child. The good news is that there are so many options on the market today. Whether you have a large, spacious nursery or a small studio apartment, you will be able to find a bed for your baby that will fit your space, as well as provide the support she needs.

Consider these things when choosing a sleep space for your baby:

  • How much space do you have for a piece of furniture?
  • Do you want the baby in your room or her own?
  • Do you want the baby in your bed or just next to it?
  • How long do you want to use the product--just a new months or long-term?
  • Do you plan to have more children who can use the products later?
  • Do you prefer organic bedding materials?
  • Can you easily find sheets and bedding that will fit your sleeper?

Cradles

While traditional cradles may seem a little old-fashioned, they are still very popular today for their size and the gentle rocking motion to help your baby rest. Many heirloom pieces are passed through generations of families giving your baby a link to her family history. Cradle sizes vary depending on the age and design, but for the most part, a cradle is a nice compact option for a baby bed. If the cradle has slats, they should be no further than 2 3/8" apart. If you received a hand-me-down cradle, make sure that are no loose slats or boards, no loose screws or hardware, and check the condition of the mattress. You may want to go ahead and purchase a new one or make your own. New cradles are available for purchase too. Choose a style that fits your space and your budget. This cradle featured on Amazon includes the cradle bumper, comforter, and sheets--all made of organic materials. This would be beautiful in any nursery.

Bassinets

Bassinets are ideal for small spaces. They are perfect for newborns, but usually need to be replaced with something larger once your baby is larger than 15 lbs. A bassinet is a good option for parents that want their baby to sleep in the parents' room. Some models rock like a cradle or have wheels that make it easier to push the bassinet from room to room as it is needed. Breastfeeding moms may find it convenient to have the baby on her side of the bed for easy access for nighttime feedings.

The most economical option is to borrow a bassinet since they are only used for a the first few months of your baby's life. If you can't borrow one, check second hands stores. Just make sure to check the sturdiness of the materials. Cracked or dried out woven basket type bassinets could break. If you suspect the bassinet was made before 1970, you may want to skip it to avoid any potential lead-based paint.

This bassinet has soothing vibrations to mimic the womb, plays soft music, and has a storage basket in the bottom for diapers, wipes, or extra clothes. This would be a great option for a newborn sleeping in the parents' room.

Bedside or Co-Sleepers

A bedside sleeper is like a bassinet, but it has one side that drops down to attach to a regular bed. This set up is perfect for small spaces, and it also allows for easy access to your baby for nighttime feedings or during naps. You might consider this option after a c-section delivery to limit your amount of moving and bending. This option is ideal for moms who want to be close to their baby, but allow the baby to have her own separate, safe sleep space. The tricky part is finding the right height of sleeper to match your bed. Most bedside sleepers will fit an average size bed, but if you have a short, European style bed or a very tall bed, you will need to double check your measurements before making a final selection. Some models offer leg extensions to make the sleeper taller.

A co-sleeper is used in the bed with the parents, but provides boundaries for the parents and the baby. This is the best option for extremely limited space, and it keeps the baby right beside her parents through the night. This is ideal for breast-feeding moms too. The co-sleeper can also be easily moved from room to room if the baby sleeps in other parts of the home. This would be a good option if you have a two-story home or large living spaces and you want to have your sleeping baby close by, but not away in her nursery.

Cribs

The most common sleep space for a baby is a crib. Cribs today are large and take up a lot of space, but most can be converted to toddler beds or even full-size beds. A crib that can grow with your child may be the best option for the money you will invest. If you are using a hand-me-down crib, check the slats are no more than 2 3/8" apart and that there is no lead-based paint. A crib should be adjustable so you can lower the mattress as your baby grows so she can't climb or fall out. You can find cribs in just about any style, material, or finish that your prefer to match your decor or nursery. This is a great choice for homes with a lot of space or parents looking to only buy one piece of furniture for their baby.

If you do choose a crib, make sure that you follow safe sleep practices like using a firm mattress, a fitted sheet, and avoid bumpers, comforters, pillows, and stuffed animals that could pose suffocation risks.

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