Where should my baby sleep?

Everyone needs to sleep, some more than others, but no one, and we mean NO ONE, is as militantly pro-sleep as the parent of a small child.

Charlotte Ward discusses options for parents chasing an elusive full night’s rest.

Photo credit: Eliza Kawamura

Any new parent knows that luring your infant into a decent sleeping cycle is the holy grail of parenting.

“Don’t you want to call up everyone you know who isn’t a parent and tell them, ‘GO! SLEEP NOW!'” remarked the pediatrician at our son’s two month appointment.

It’s true that sleep is often a less frequent pleasure in the homes of new parents, but thankfully there is a vast array of sleeping gear available to coax and comfort your little one into a decent night’s slumber!

When we first brought our son home from hospital, he did not fare well in the roomy, flat bassinet I had carefully researched and purchased. After several nights watching him floundering around like a fish out of water we unpacked an Ingenuity Smart and Simple Playard and tucked him into the small cozy dream center that perches on the top. It felt snug and secure for a newborn and had a slight incline that helped with a nasty bout of reflux.

Our boy also spent many a snooze in his Fisher-Price Deluxe Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, which is also perfect for bad reflux nights and daytime naps.

During the first three months, swaddling is recommended to help your infant sleep and ease the newborn tendency to startle awake. However, as the Houdini of the baby world our son proved he could break free from any swaddle so we opted for a Halo SleepSack instead.

At two months we were able to transition him to the all-singing, all-dancing Halo Bassinest Swivel Sleeper. The swivel setting allows moms to pull the bassinet right next to the bed and a range of settings of music, vibrations and nature noises all help in “Operation Baby Sleep.” More than once I found myself slithering commando style across the nursery carpet to slyly unleash an arsenal of Brahms Lullaby on my fussing infant.

Whatever new sleeping solution you try there will undoubtedly be angst. Emma, a mom friend, tentatively moved her daughter to the nursery at two-weeks-old as she could not sleep a wink thanks to her baby’s incessant grunting.

“She sounded like she was hunting for truffles all night,” she reports. “I was anxious about having her in another room but used a baby monitor so I could hear when she started to cry. Ironically, between her and her sister, she was the better sleeper and it was worth evicting her because I could actually get some rest.”

Other moms declare a sleep breakthrough after choosing to bed-share with their baby.

“We had planned to put our daughter in a bassinet at first,” says Laura. “But then I had a C-section and it was too painful for me to lift the baby in or out to feed her every two hours. The simplest solution for us was to bed-share. I read up on how to do it safely* so I would feel better about it and it has worked out for us. Our baby starts to kick a little when she’s awake, I instantly wake up, feed her and she falls right back to sleep. We all get lots of sleep now.”

Many moms report their baby made a sleep breakthrough at the three-month mark and it was while we visited friends in San Francisco that our son had his best night’s sleep to date in their crib.

Once we’d got over the heady shock of four hours solid sleep, I interrogated our friends on the exact details of the mattress and crib and whipped out my phone to order.

Our baby has been sleeping in his duplicate Ikea crib with Sealy Cotton Cozy Rest mattress for a week now and we are still dreaming of the morning we wake startled and ecstatic after an uninterrupted night.

Until then, we’ll be calling our childless friends to tell them whoever said ‘Sleep when you’re dead’ is an idiot!

* According to the U.S. Department of Health, current evidence does not support bed-sharing as a protective strategy against SIDS. Note: There are other options for bed-sharing moms such as the Close And Secure Sleeper.