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Where Will My Baby Sleep?

By Amalah

O wise and all knowing One-

I recently found out that I am pregnant for the first time and have spent quality work time reading all of the back postings that are baby-related.

I’m sure I have plenty of time and other things to worry about but right now am trying to figure out baby sleeping options. We have a small apartment and not a separate room for the nursery. Do we squeeze a crib in there some where? A pack n play or something similar or a co sleeper? or just give up and let the baby sleep with us from the start?

Since you have 2 wonderful children, what worked for you? What would you suggest? And what would you suggest I better spend my time worrying about instead??

Thank you in advance!!
N

Ha! Rest assured this is not just a first-time mother obsession — I spent a large chunk of both pregnancies fretting about where the baby would sleep. We had a traditional nursery and crib set up, both times, but I knew better than to really think that the baby would sleep in the crib from the get-go. And who would even want that, what with the constant getting up and padding down the hall for feedings and diaper changes and neurotic-is-the-baby-still-breathing checks? No, you really do want (and need) the baby to start off very close at hand.

With my first child, Noah, we had a Pack-n-Play with a bassinet attachment. I was loathe to buy a separate bassinet once I noticed the weight limit was typically only 15 pounds (and this was before I even knew I would give birth to a 10-pound linebacker-baby). Noah was 15 pounds by three months, and Ezra will likely be the same, despite a three-pound difference in birth weight. I do good work with the big boy babies, apparently.

HOWEVER. Noah spent maybe two or three nights in that bassinet. He hated it. Swaddled or unswaddled, flat on his back or elevated with a sleep positioner (edited on 10/6/2010: sleep positioners have now been recalled by the FDA and the CPSC) — he would not sleep there. His eyes would fly open the instant we put him down. (It’s a flaw in the SIDS-prevention Back To Sleep campaign, honestly — nobody tells you what to do with a baby who haaaaaaates sleeping on his back, as most of them actually do.) (But I will try to do just that later this week! It’s Baby Sleep Week at the Advice Smackdown! Stay tuned! And then next week I will bitch about my double chin.)

So after a few sleepless nights I got over my hang-ups about co-sleeping (omg we’ll smother him! we’ll never get him out of our bed!) and he spent the night with us and oh, goodness, we all slept much better. I mastered nursing while lying on my side and figured out that I didn’t even have to stay awake throughout an entire feeding. (Although beware skipping the burping — or at least be prepared to change your sheets a lot.)

At some point, after just a few weeks of co-sleeping, I tried putting Noah in his crib again, and this time it took. He slept soundly all night, for about six hours at a time. I missed having him in bed with us, honestly, but I followed his lead that perhaps he was ready and preferred having his space — and was only waking so much to eat because my boobs were RIGHT THERE. I mean, hey, as long as you’re offering them, Mama…

And now there is my second child, Ezra. Even though Noah despised the Pack-n-Play bassinet, I dutifully lugged it up from the basement and into our room. (We have used the Pack-n-Play dozens of times since, though, as a portable crib for travel, so I’m still glad we got it instead of a whole separate bassinet.) Then I realized we were missing an essential piece for the bassinet attachment. We dithered about ordering it and never did. I looked into the co-sleepers but discovered that none of them adjusted to the low, low height of our bed. (Seriously, baby gear manufacturers: Platform beds and beds without box springs. Think about them.) We thought about getting a bigger bed but couldn’t afford it (we only have a full). I looked at Moses baskets and bassinets and bassinets that turn into junior cribs and toddler beds and high chairs and God knows what else.

In the end, we still really didn’t have a plan for where the baby would sleep when we brought him home from the hospital — I figured we’d just improvise and see what he liked.

So now Ezra sleeps in bed with us. We get one “long” stretch starting around 10 or 11 pm — anywhere from four to six hours, although last night it was a whopping THREE — and then after that he’s in a eat-and-doze pattern of regular wakings until morning.

Jason keeps trying and trying to get him in the crib for that first leg of the night — because, you know, that’s what Noah did, HA HA HA — but he’s just not ready. Most of the time, he sleeps on his side, curled into my chest with his cheek literally using my boob as a pillow.

(For those of you biting your knuckles in horror, rest assured we are very, very careful. I keep all bedclothes far away, I do not move a muscle out of instinct, and studies have also found that a mother being that close to her baby can help regulate its breathing and reduce the risk of SIDS…but I know the safety of co-sleeping will probably forever be debated and the official stance forever flip-flopping. If you do not feel like your bed is a safe place, or if your are both restless sleepers who move a lot and yank covers up in your sleep, don’t co-sleep without a bedside attachment or sleep positioner or other safety precaution.)

Neither of us is particularly down with extended co-sleeping FOR US, and at some point we will start making a conscious effort to help Ezra learn to sleep alone, probably when he’s rolling over and I feel less confident that our bed is safe for him.

But for now, this works, and we like it. Okay, I love it. (I also love that my three-year-old sleeps all night, every night, in his own bed though. He’s POINTY.)

So…I don’t know how helpful any of this could possibly be for you — expect to know that we all bounce around the many sleep options and often don’t even end up using whatever gadget we were SO SURE was the right one. (And that a “nursery” is really just the place where we keep his clothes and diapers, so don’t fret about not having one, seriously.)

If I HAVE to give you advice, and the title of this page suggests that I do, I’d suggest you wait until you meet your baby. Does he or she sleep in the hospital bassinet? (Neither of mine did, AT ALL, EVER.) Is he or she a swaddling/sling/must-be-constricted-and-held-tightly-against-your-body-at-all-times baby? (Noah = NO. HATE. Ezra = DON’T YOU DARE PUT ME DOWN EVER.)

These little personality quirks are present pretty early on, and will tell you a lot about what the best sleeping arrangement will be. Since you’re so limited on space I’d hate for you to rush out and buy a co-sleeper or a bassinet and God knows what else, only to have them all be completely and utterly useless. At some point, yeah. You’ll probably want to find a place for a crib, but at least a real CRIB will last your baby for a couple of YEARS, instead of a couple of months, and you can delay that purchase until your baby is actually ready to sleep independently.

A compromise would be something like the STOKKE Sleepi crib, which converts and converts and converts, from a bassinet to a crib to a toddler bed to freaking CHAIRS, my God. It’s expensive, of course, but beautiful and what parent doesn’t love the idea of buying ONE thing that you can just keep reassembling and your child can use forever and ever? My only caution would be to remember that kids are TOUGH on furniture, and that the crib might not always be so beautiful or even survive all the way to the sofa/chair option. We bought a crib that also converts to a toddler bed and a twin bed, and we’ve never used those options and probably never will for a variety of boring reasons, one of which is that Noah used the railings and slats for teething. I guess he didn’t read my memo that his crib was supposed to be a precious family heirloom, because he beat the hell out of it. (No wonder Ezra won’t sleep there! It offends his aesthetic sensibilities! IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW.)

Readers, where did YOUR babies sleep, just so we can confuse poor N even further?

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Jen
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Jen

We had a beautiful bassinet/cradle for Baby #1, but she was such a loud sleeper that we had to move her out of room after half a night. She ended up sleeping in a Moses basket for a few weeks (mostly just because she looked too tiny to be in that big crib all alone), then moved to her crib. Baby #2 is 10 weeks old and sleeps (through the night! Until 7am!)…in her carseat. The transition to the crib will be fun when I get brave enough to make it. You do what works, and you’ll certainly figure it… Read more »

mtngray
Guest

With my first son, I started with a bassinet in my room, and he slept in it most of the time. On the occasion that he would just not fall back asleep in the night, I put him in our bed and passed out, and he eventually fell asleep while watching the light show/projector thing that was part of the monitor. All was good. He moved to his crib in his room around 3 months.after my MIL gave us the Aquarium thing to hang on the side. He loved it and went to sleep on his own, and life rocked!… Read more »

AJU5's Mom
Guest

Our daughter slept in the same room with us for almost 10 months. The first three months my husband spent most nights on the couch so he could get some sleep (which was fine with me). Our daughter would go back and forth between the bed and the pack-n-play bassinet during the night. If I fell asleep while she was nursing, she stayed in bed. If I was awake, I would put her back in the bassinet. Around 5 months, she outgrew the bassinet and slept in the pack-n-lay normally until we got her a crib. I don’t recommend keeping… Read more »

Cobblestone
Guest

Oh I had such a vision – baby in the co-sleeper, neurotic cat not *too* displaced, life was going to be good. The cat was thrilled I finally got him his own bed {the co-sleeper} because apparently he had wanted one for quite awhile – envision a 16lb cat belly up with paws over nose in DA HAPPI! So, ok, the cat is happy out of the bed which leaves the bed for the baby. cool. I borrowed a BedLounge Husband Pillow http://tinyurl.com/5uor72 and LOVE it even though it takes up too much room on the bed. I have back… Read more »

Olivia
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Olivia

I’ve got about 3 months to go until my first is born, and I just want to add I don’t know what we are going to do either. Maybe co-sleep, if she/we like it? We are also going with the pack-n-play with bassinet, so maybe she’ll sleep there? I don’t know. I have more questions about this when she gets older. We don’t have a big house and the “nursery” is our current guest room, in which we plan to leave the full sized bed set up for grandparents and other guests. There isn’t a lot of room to add… Read more »

Trista
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Trista

Baby #1-slept in the crook of my arm on the couch for the first week, then it was off to his crib..seriously, slept through the night, 10 hours or more from then on. AND he was breastfed. He would sleep anywhere, in any position for long LONG amounts of time. Baby #2-NEVER slept. EVER. She didn’t cry, she just didn’t sleep. Ended up putting her in a bouncy seat infront of the tv most nights…not so she could watch it (usually put it on country music videos) But just so she felt like someone was talking to her. I slept… Read more »

Wallydraigle
Guest

I apologize if this posts a hundred times. I don’t think it will, but TypeKey hates me and something funny is going on. The thing that sucks about babies is that they are, apparently, all different and thus no planning ever. We started out with ours in a bassinet, too. That did not work out so well. She was NOISY even when she was asleep. Then we had her in our bed with us. I thought maybe she’d be calmer that way. She’s a cuddly baby, but doesn’t sleep well when she’s being cuddled. And I’m the world’s lousiest sleeper… Read more »

Kate
Guest

I had a cradle and a pack-n-play for my son in the early days. In the first few days, he slept in the cradle, and then I, like you, realized that sleeping with him in my bed (I was single) was much easier. He slept better, I could half sleep while he nursed, and it just worked. I funnily enough have some type of amnesia regarding the sleep habits between 1 month and 3 – I bought the crib when he was 3 months old and that was the very first night he slept through the night. But I don’t… Read more »

Bekki
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Bekki

I have 7 week old twins. The first two weeks, or so, we slept on the couch with the babies either being held by us or together in the Pack and Play bassinet thing. We were given a beautiful wicker bassinet by a friend who had used it with both her kids. We tried to use it in our room when we finally figured out a good sleeping pattern for us all, but my two are SO noisy (seriously, louder asleep than awake), I couldn’t relax enough to sleep whit them in the room with me. Now we use it… Read more »

Lori
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Lori

1st kid — in her bassinet until 2 months old when she started sleeping thru the night and we put her in her crib in her own room. Easy! She tricked us into having … 2d kid — who did not sleep at first unless I was holding her, then tricked her into the boppy (I know, I know, don’t do what I did) on my bed, then she spent the first few hours in her pack and play swaddled and with sleep positioners in the living room (w/ me on the couch) so she wouldn’t waken the other kid… Read more »

Sara
Guest

I bought a $25 bassinet on wheels from Wal-Mart (yes, I know) when my son was about two weeks old. It saved my life, seriously — he could sleep in it, he could lay about making funny noises in it, he could stretch out and stare at the ceiling fan while Mama had a glass of wine in it. (While he was in it, I mean, not the wine.) It was incredibly easy to move around (wheels!), so if he crashed out in the middle of the day I could just book us down the hall to my bedroom and… Read more »

Melissa
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Melissa

We had a crib but were getting ready to move and so didn’t want to put together at our old place, so we used the bassinet version of our pack and play. We only had one bedroom so I slept on the couch and just went in to feed him. I am a light sleeper and COULD NOT sleep in the same room with him. I didn’t even use the baby monitor because seriously, I heard him. Always. Once we moved and put the crib together, he slept in that and would wake up for one night feeding. Recently we… Read more »

jessica
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jessica

If you are in a small apartment an amby bed is a great option. http://www.ambybaby.com I have only heard great things;)

Roberta
Guest

Wow, thanks for this timely column. I was seriously about to post a question about co-sleeping TODAY, because I am neurotically dithering about what to do with my 3.5 week-old daughter. After an unexpected C-section, I spent the days in the hospital with the baby asleep on my chest. So much easier to breastfeed, since I didn’t have to ask anyone to get her out of the (ugly, horrible) hospital bassinet for me. She also helped me sleep better, with her comforting little warmth. So, now we are home. We have a co-sleeper which is currently being used to store… Read more »

heels
Guest

My son slept with us for about a year before we transitioned him to his crib, where he then slept for just over a year before we moved him to a real bed. Even so, I was very happy to have the crib from the start for those times when he was awake and happy so that I could put him down for a couple minutes to safely run to the bathroom or fold clothes or something. I loved co-sleeping, and I never felt unsafe. There was one VERY cold night when we had the blankets up a little higher… Read more »

jodifur
Guest

I must be abnormal b/c my son slept in his crib from the night he got home from the hospital and every night since. He is the loudest sleeper in the entire world and violently kicks his bed and if he slept in our room or in our bed he would be the only one who ever got any sleep. The one time we tried to take him in our bed he was sick and up all night and we just wanted to get some sleep and he spent the whole night saying, “Mommy, what are you doing?” “Daddy, what… Read more »

Someone Being Me
Guest

I had a hand me down bassinet next to my side of the bed so I got the closeness of having him right there without the fear of co-sleeping. If he fussed during the night I would let him sleep on my chest until he was out and then he went into the bassinet. I had the pack and play in the living room with the bassinet part on and used that for daytime naps and diaper changes for the first 5 months. Then he moved to his crib at about 5 months.

Alison
Guest
Alison

Jodifur, I’m with you. My son slept in his crib from the first night home from the hospital. I brought him to bed with me once at 9 weeks or so out of sheer exhaustion and he screamed bloody blue murder. I took that as a sign and never tried again.

Eva
Guest
Eva

I used the Snuggle Nest with both baby boys for the first few months. It was between me and my husband at the top of the bed. You can’t roll over on the baby and you can rest your arm in there if you want. I would pull our bedclothes up to cover the baby’s legs/stomach.
Anyway, it was great for us, and my sister used it after I did and loved it too.
Manufacturer’s website is http://www.snugglenest.com/snugglenest/deluxe.php

thatgirlkelly
Guest
thatgirlkelly

she was supposed to sleep in the pack and play bassinet thingy, but we ended up co sleeping. i blame that on the boy since the baby would fall asleep on his chest in the living room, then he brought her into bed.
now she’s 8 weeks and i’m trying to get her into her crib or the bassinet and it is not going well.

Stacy
Guest

Co-sleeping. My baby’s crib was solely decorative. We went from co-sleeping all three of us to co-sleeping by twos, with the babine in his futon. Yep: futon. Low to the ground. Hard-ish surface. By 6 months he was all futon, all the time. Would sleep there for a 10 hour stretch (with a side guard). He hated the crib and pretty much never slept in it. He’s 8 now and sleeps all by himself in an actual bed (futon moved to the playroom, where I’m pretty sure he and his fellow 8 year olds jump on it). My pediatrician was… Read more »

Kate B.
Guest
Kate B.

We bought a regular Pack-n-Play (without the bassinet feature) for our bedroom and a crib for the nursery. Our baby slept in the Pack-n-Play for the first few weeks and it gradually became apparent to me that having her closer to my bed would be much much MUCH more convenient. Yes, I got tired of the mere four steps it took to get to the Pack-n-Play for nighttime feedings… plus, bending over to pick her up was doing a number on my back. Since our daughter was about a month and a half old by this time, I wasn’t sure… Read more »

Jackie
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Jackie

So helpful to read all your stories…Roberta, I hear you! I too had an unplanned C-section and I too am worrying about doing the “right” sleep thing. My 8 week old son started out sleeping in a snuggle nest inside a bassinet next to our bed, but sometime around 4 weeks old he stopped liking it. We’ve been bouncing around ever since – snuggle nest in our bed, in the bassinet, co-sleeping with no snuggle nest – but the one thing that truly works is sleeping in his papasan cradle swing. I think he feels more snuggled in it than… Read more »

Valerie
Guest

I agree with the whole waiting to meet your kid thing. We lucked out with a big, chubby baby who seems to have little need for snuggling to fall asleep. We kept him with us in the bedroom in the Pack ‘n’ Play for a couple weeks and then transitioned him to his own room right next door to us. I ended up sleeping better when he was out of the room because I wasn’t waking up to every sigh and hiccup. Just see how the baby does in the hospital. Some babies are just going to naturally want to… Read more »

MissB
Guest

Just wanted to add my two cents. We got a bassinett that’s side came off to be like a bedside sleeper. It went up to 25-30 pounds. My son did well in it but wouldn’t go back to sleep in it after his first feeding so I just kept him in bed with us. I would also not be fully awake when he fed later in the night and not burping him kind of sucks. But then I just got a long towel (they actually make a specific product for this purpose) and wedged it under myself and SO so… Read more »

citymama
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citymama

So we live in the city, a city where the cost of a mortgage gets you an 800 square foot loft. So our son who is 3 and a half sleeps in a little ikea bed at the foot of our bed, in what is best described as a bed area enclosure. As a baby he slept in our bed with us until be was maybe 8 months old- whenever he learned to crawl he got his own small barricaded futon on the floor. He slept through the night without waking me up from about a month old, as he… Read more »

Colleen
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Colleen

Jackie- It’s totally ok to sleep him in the swing!!! Our 4 year old boy slept in his swing until he was 9 months old. He happily slept in a swing (and later, a bed) from 9 months on.

Karen
Guest
Karen

3.5 week old daughter looooooves the wrap sling and haaaaaates being on her back. Loves to eat, too. We’ve tried everything – swaddling, cosleeper, crib, cosleeping in the bed, cosleeping on top of our chests, side-nursing, music, white noise, putting her down drowsy, putting her down sleeping, etc etc. The only thing that works with any kind of consistency other than being in a moving car is for me to have her in the sling, dance around until she falls asleep, and then lay down on the couch, still with her in the sling. There we both sleep for an… Read more »

Kirstie
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Kirstie

I don’t have children yet (not for quite some time, praise god!) but my mother’s stories of ME as a child are a good warning for everyone: be flexible. You never know what that baby is going to want or decide. I, as a wee one, learned to walk at 7 and a half months old. Not just grabbing tables and waddling, mind you – fully fledged running around our apartment. I got the hang of climbing REAL fast after that, too, so by 10 months old any attempts at pack and plays or cribs were LONG gone. I was… Read more »

Karen
Guest
Karen

Here in Philadelphia, the medical examiners officer sees one baby per week that dies from co-sleeping. That alone (plus seeing the autopsy of a baby that died from SIDS while co-sleeping) was enough to scare the bejesus out of me. We have a Moses basket that we use to keep the baby close but not too close.

Jessica
Guest
Jessica

Karen, that does not comport with the already controversial study that prompted U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s announcement of 64 deaths per year in the U.S. related to cosleeping. I seriously doubt that one single city is responsible for 52 of the 64 deaths. I co-slept with my parents and we are currently co-sleeping with our boy. It’s been lovely and so helpful in terms of night feedings and getting as much rest as possible. I’m not saying it’s for everyone, but the rates just aren’t nearly that high – it’s more like 1 a week nationwide. And that UCPS… Read more »

Synett
Guest
Synett

OMG! I am sooo thankful to read your postings. I stumbled upon them from Pinterest. Anywho, I am 16 weeks, first child, unplanned and nervous, thrilled, anxious, OCD, happy, sad, scared, excited…. you get the jist. Well, my hubby and I live in a cozy one bedroom and until I spoke with another expecting couple who live in a house and were mentioning getting their nursery ready, I didn’t even think about a nursery! Yes, I know our apartment will not accommodate us forever and a move is definitely in our future, but right now we don’t have the finances… Read more »

Athena
Guest
Athena

Bassinet at first… as I got more confident (and lovely darling boy decided an extra wake-up an hour before his up-for- the-day of an already unpleasant 7am NO THANK YOU) and less freaked-out about the idea of co-sleeping, I do that part-time now too. Into the port-a-cot for a while before we were able to retrieve the actual cot (long story), then into the cot, then… um… back into the bassinet for a while it seems right now… (minus weight-limited stand). And now trying to think of some way to reduce the sleeping area in the cot because, apparently, it… Read more »

Melia
Guest
Melia

My second child would not sleep in her pack n play at all! For the first few weeks it was either on my chest or during the day she would sleep so peacefully in a laundry basket while I did Housework. I’ve heard many newborns like laundry baskets, not sure why. My first, we co slept because we lived with room mates and didn’t have room for her to sleep anywhere else besides with us and then transitioned her I to her crib for naps and then eventually night time at 1.5.