The Complete Co-Sleeper Buying Guide For New Parents
With your brand-new baby finally in your arms, it can be hard to put that sweet little one down. You want them by your side at all times! Because of this, many parents opt for a co-sleeper to keep their baby nearby while they snooze.
If you’re interested in this option but need more info, you’re in the right place.
In this article, we’ll define co-sleepers and co-sleeping. Then we’ll discuss the pros and cons of co-sleepers as well as tips for choosing one if you decide it’s the right bed for your newborn.
Let’s start with the important difference between co-sleepers and co-sleeping. It’s no small thing and has to do with your baby’s safety.
The Difference Between Co-Sleepers And Co-Sleeping
Co-sleeping is a bit of a general term for sleeping with your baby close by.
For some parents, co-sleeping means having their baby in bed with them, which is called bed-sharing. For others, co-sleeping involves having a separate sleep surface for their baby but still keeping them near.
This is where co-sleepers come in. A co-sleeper is a small bed for your baby that either attaches to your bed or rests on your mattress. This type of baby bed provides a separate sleep surface for your little one but keeps them as close as possible.
The important point to make here is that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you share your room with your baby for at least the first six months of their life, if not the first year.
However, according to the AAP, bed-sharing is a no-no, and this includes co-sleepers that lay on top of your own mattress. The safety risks are significant.
If you want your baby close by at night, the best option is to scoot their bassinet next to your bed or opt for a co-sleeper that attaches to the bedside. Just remember: Never let your baby sleep in your bed with or without a co-sleeper, as doing so poses a huge safety risk.
To help you decide between using a co-sleeper versus a crib or bassinet, let’s review some of the pros and cons.
Co-Sleeper Pros And Cons
Keeping your baby by your side for the first few months can be accomplished with a co-sleeper, bassinet, or crib. The choice is yours!
To help you make the decision, here are some pros and cons of co-sleepers.
The obvious advantage of the co-sleeper is that your baby is close. This can help you rest easy as a parent, but it also has another practical advantage: convenience.
With your baby in a co-sleeper, you can check on, comfort, and nurse them without ever getting out of your bed. This is especially helpful for breastfeeding moms who would otherwise be up and down all night.
Another consideration is that using this type of sleep surface is safer than sharing your bed with your baby.
However, keep in mind that as far as the safety of co-sleepers themselves, the AAP notes they “cannot make a recommendation for or against the use of bedside sleepers or in-bed sleepers until more studies are done.”
With that said, the AAP does recommend babies have their own sleep space, and for this reason, a co-sleeper that attaches to the bedside or a bassinet by the bed is best for creating the safest sleep environment for your baby.
There are a few items in the con column when it comes to co-sleepers. In the end, it’s all about deciding what works best for your family.
First of all, having a co-sleeper attached to your bed can be cumbersome for you as a parent. You’ll have to do some maneuvering anytime you need to get out of bed, and if you bump the co-sleeper in the process, you may wake your little one.
Secondly, your baby will outgrow a co-sleeper quickly. By the time your baby has mastered rolling over or sitting up, it’s no longer safe to let them sleep in the co-sleeper. This means you’ll only use this baby bed for a few months.
However, the same is true of bassinets. With a bassinet, you should plan to transition your baby to a crib by around four months of age. To read more about bassinets versus cribs, click here.
With that information in mind, if you’ve decided a co-sleeper is the right choice for you and your little one, let’s move on to tips for choosing the right product.
Tips For Choosing A Co-Sleeper
Consider Your Space
The space you have available is one factor to take into account when choosing a co-sleeper. When shopping for a co-sleeper that attaches to your bed, be sure that it fits or that you can rearrange furniture to make it work.
Depending on the style of co-sleeper, you may also need to check that it can be adjusted to match the height of your bed and mattress.
Choose A Breathable Co-Sleeper
For the safest sleep for your baby, consider breathability. When it comes to a co-sleeper, this means choosing one with mesh sides or wooden slats (like a crib).
In addition, breathability is still important when your baby graduates to their crib. At this stage, opt for a breathable mattress so that when your baby rolls onto their stomach in the middle of the night, they’ll be able to breathe straight through the mattress.
We recommend the Newton Baby breathable Crib Mattress, which is made of 90% air.
Not only is this design breathable, but it’s also the only crib mattress that’s washable from cover to core! Plus, it’s made without foam, glue, or latex and is Greenguard Gold certified for low chemical emissions.
Our goal is to provide your little one with a clean, safe, and hypoallergenic sleep surface. This means safety for your baby and peace of mind for you.
Newton's Bassinet & Bedside Sleeper is a great option for safe and comfortable sleep for your baby.
Avoid Used Co-Sleepers
Hand-me-downs are great, but we always recommend that your baby’s bed (whether a crib, bassinet, or co-sleeper) be purchased new. This way you can check that it is up to current safety standards and be assured that all the parts are intact.
Speaking of which, since your baby’s health and safety are your top priorities, there are a few safety checks you’ll want to do when choosing and assembling your co-sleeper.
Check For Safety
According to federal law, bedside sleepers must meet certain standards. But, as a protective parent, you’ll still want to do some safety checks yourself.
What are some things to look for?
First, make sure it attaches securely and won’t slip to create a gap between the bed and the co-sleeper. The sides should also be sturdy and secure so they won’t fold in if you happen to roll against the co-sleeper while snoozing.
And, as with any baby bed, once it is assembled, check for loose or missing parts, sharp edges, and the like. Then be sure that the mattress fits snugly inside the co-sleeper. Use the mattress that comes with the product or one that’s specifically designed to fit like a glove.
Finally, outfit your baby’s co-sleeper with nothing more than a mattress and fitted sheet. No matter where your baby sleeps — co-sleeper, bassinet, or crib — the same safe-sleep guidelines apply, and any extras in their bed can be a safety hazard.
Don’t put baby pillows, blankets, toys, or stuffed animals in your baby’s bed, and stay away from loose-fitting crib sheets. For more information on baby sleep safety, read our article here.
Know When To Move On
Last but not least, one very important part of using a co-sleeper for your baby is knowing when to stop using one. As we mentioned, for safety reasons, the co-sleeper will have to go once your little one can roll over or sit up. This means it won’t be around for more than a few months.
It’s also essential to check the weight limit on your particular co-sleeper as well as any other specifications.
Once your baby has outgrown their co-sleeper, you may want to consider a convertible crib that will function as your child’s bed for years to come.
A convertible crib — like our Austin Convertible Crib, Soho Convertible Crib, or Domino Convertible Crib — changes as your baby grows so you won’t have to buy a new bed for quite some time.
Keeping Your Little One Close
Keeping your baby close during those first few months not only puts you at ease, but it can also be a game-changer when it comes to easily feeding and comforting your little one.
To safely sleep with your baby as close as possible, opt for a co-sleeper instead of bed-sharing.
Consider the pros and cons we listed in this article to help you decide if a co-sleeper is the right choice for your family. If it is, take stock of your space, choose a breathable option, and make sure it’s safe.
Before you know it, your baby will be transitioning to a crib and crib mattress, like our Convertible Crib and breathable Crib Mattress. Until then, enjoy every moment of having your little one by your side!