As postpartum doulas, the first job we’re often helping new parents with is: where should my baby sleep?
With the right equipment and precautions, the short answer is: anywhere you want. Each family scenario – each baby – is different, and flexibility and options are key to finding the best solutions. And by best, we mean, what works for you, not what worked for your mother, or your friend or that group of helpful acquaintances on Facebook.
Here are three options that may work for you.
In Her Own Room, In Her Own Crib
Pros: This setting is dark and quiet. She’ll have plenty of room in her crib to lay however she likes best and (hopefully) nothing will disturb her slumber. You won’t have to worry about transitioning to sleeping on her own. Sensitive adult sleepers will get rest, too.
Cons: Each nighttime feeding will involve a caregiver waking, getting up, going to the room for the feeding and getting her back to sleep in the crib. When she is very little, this may be as often as every two hours. Parents should take extra care to not fall asleep with baby anywhere but in a safe sleep environment – chairs and couches are not safe. A video baby monitor may help parents to feel more comfortable with each little noise and movement.
In a Co-Sleeper in Parents’ Room
Pros: Nighttime waking and feeding is very convenient. It is also easy to keep an eye on baby when he is right next to a parent.
Cons: Requires a special purchase (co-sleeper, bassinet, adaptable crib, etc.) that may not be used after a small window of time. (For instance, most co-sleepers and bassinets may not be safe to use after he can sit up on his own.) Parents who are light sleepers may find it difficult to sleep with baby noises and movements. May limit bedroom intimacy for parents.
In Parents’ Bed
Pros: Breastfeeding is extremely convenient and may be the option that allows the mother to get the most sleep. (This is also called breastsleeping.) Bed-sharing is a great way to help baby regulate her temperature. She may find this sleep arrangement to be the most preferable and soothing.
Cons: Requires adherence to the Safe Sleep Seven. Parents who are light sleepers may find it difficult to sleep with baby noises and movements. Parents may worry about transitioning older babies to sleeping on their own. Doesn’t allow for any intimacy in bed for parents.