Deciding where your baby will sleep is a matter of your personal preference and the space you have available. There are also safety considerations that you should take into account but with so many differing pieces of advice of where your baby should sleep, it can be very hard to know what is the right thing to do. Well, as is the case with so many of these questions, there is no absolute right – just what is right for your baby and you.
During the Day
It helps if you have a place for baby to sleep during the day in your main living area for your own convenience and so that you keep night time sleep and daytime naps different for your baby to begin to learn the difference (and hopefully this will lead to longer night time sleeps).
Moses Baskets and Bassinets
A Moses basket or bassinet is a great traditional choice ? these can be easily lifted and moved with handles and they fit onto a stand which often folds away for easy storage. A Moses basket or bassinet is ideal for the first few weeks or months and can be easily moved from room to room so it can be very handy.
A cradle is generally a heavier, more permanent fixture suitable for a longer period of time than the Moses basket. Your baby can usually sleep in a cradle until they are able to roll over. These can be cosy and comfortable for your little one and are best placed where they will stay. Ideal for night time, a cradle is best placed beside your bed.
Many parents choose to skip the cradle stage and use a cot from day one. You can get inserts for a cot to ensure baby is cosy and comfortable for safety or if you feel the cot looks very bare. The cot is best placed beside your bed. Many models have two heights at which you can place the base, so you can have baby at your level until you have to move the base lower, when baby starts to pull themselves up and could potentially attempt to escape!
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‘No blankets over a newborn’ seems to be the prevailing advice. For safety, it is better to use a sleeping bag designed for newborns; that way nothing can cover baby’s mouth and nose, however much they wriggle.
Most experts agree that your baby is better sleeping in the same room as you for the first year of their life. This is for many reasons. Firstly, you can check on them at any time and it is easier to feed and change them during the night. Secondly, for safety reasons, it is recommended that baby is close to you. Research shows that your baby benefits from hearing your breathing through the night and being able to smell you. SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) researchers recommend sharing your room, but not your bed, with baby.
Many baby experts are against having baby sleeping in the same bed as his parents. Other people feel it is the best option. The benefits of co-sleeping include the closeness of having baby in the bed and the fact that it makes breastfeeding easier. The dangers are a possible increased risk of SIDS, especially if your baby was premature or if anyone sleeping in the bed smokes (even if they don?t smoke in the bedroom). Heavy sleepers have been known to roll over on the sleeping child and there is a very real risk of baby overheating. Those who choose to co-sleep should do so with all this in mind, keeping the bed cool, making sure the mattress is firm and avoiding co-sleeping when extremely tired, having consumed alcohol or medications that cause drowsiness and when baby or parents are unwell. A good compromise is to have a cot close by the bed with baby at the same level as the bed.
Wherever you decide to have your baby sleep, always make sure they are safe by ensuring nothing can cover their face, choose cellular blankets or a baby sleeping bag and keep the room at a level, medium temperature. Place baby on their back to sleep at all times. Use baby monitors if you are not in the same room as the sleeping baby and check them periodically. Most importantly, if you are unsure of what is best for your baby and your family in your unique circumstances, ask your health visitor or doctor.
The HSE website has some advice on safe sleeping