How to Survive the First Few Weeks with a Newborn – Where Should My Baby Sleep?
Firstly: Don’t panic if your baby only wants to sleep on you in the early days. This is normal and to be expected and will change after a 3-12 weeks.
There are SO MANY cribs, cots, Moses baskets, co-sleepers, bassinets, snuggly props, wedges and contraptions on the market that it can be really difficult to work out what to put your newborn baby in to sleep when you bring them home. But no matter how much you spend on your baby’s bed, and what beautiful bedding and sleepwear you use, most newborns will prefer to sleep on YOU!!!
And there are lots of different opinions on this too. Some professionals, including your midwife and health visitors will probably tell you that your baby should never sleep on you, especially if you are tired, a smoker or have been drinking, but the reality of this is that most mums would NEVER sleep if they didn’t let their baby sleep on them during the first 3-6 weeks after birth.
Your baby has spent around 9 months inside you, so when they come out, they are unlikely to feel comfortable, safe, secure and relaxed enough to sleep when they are put down. They still rely on being close to you to feel secure, so it is natural for them to sleep soundly when they are on you, and become unsettled when put down. As they get used to all the new noises, smells, temperatures and feelings of the world that now surrounds them, they will slowly feel more comfortable in their new surroundings and in time will sleep happily in their own space.
So, will your baby really sleep better and be more settled in SleepyHead, Cocoonababy, Snuzpod or a hammock, whilst wearing organic merino wool?
In the first few weeks, probably not. In the following few months, maybe, maybe not. The most important thing is to build a good bond with your baby by holding them, cuddling, carrying, feeding regularly, singing, talking and resting with them. This way, they will feel secure as they become accustomed to being outside the womb. So instead of being sucked in by marketing, work out what your budget for their first bed is, and how much space you have and find the right option for you. Remember that your baby won’t necessarily sleep better in a more expensive bed, sometimes the simple things work best.
Here are my thoughts on cribs and sleep aids:
Moses baskets: An easy and relatively inexpensive option BUT they usually only fit your baby for 10-14 weeks unless you have a big basket or small baby. They are easy to move around the house with you, but can be a bit creaky. A lot of babies hate their moses baskets and never sleep in them while others love them.
Co-Sleeper Cribs: A bit more costly than a Moses basket, but bigger and likely to last a bit longer. I don’t advise having a crib that attaches your bed, because this often leads to baby co-sleeping in your bed unintentionally. If you do opt for a co-sleeper crib, my advise is to put the side up after 6-8 weeks so that your baby is close enough to touch, but has their own space to sleep and aren’t woken so easily by you.
Sleep Head/ Cocoonababy/ Sleep Positioners: These are not safe and they have been linked to infant deaths. Many parents find that their babies “settle so easily” in these. They are snuggly and keep babies in the position they are put down in which is great for the first few months. Once your baby starts to move and roll, these can disrupt their sleep as it stops them from getting into a comfortable position to sleep, and they can wriggle out of them and get caught between the positioner and cot-side. I do not advise using these.
Cribs: Plain, simple cribs are great. They are usually big enough to last 4-5 months, you can find the right mattress for you (I bought an organic coir and lambswool one for my son to avoid exposure to chemicals, but this is just my preference). You can keep a crib as close to your bed as you want and start to move it away slightly as you prepare to move your baby to their own room. They are usually inexpensive, which makes sense as you are only really going to use it for a few months.
Wedges: These raise the head end of your baby’s mattress or crib. This is really helpful if your baby is quite sicky, has reflux or digestive issues. You may need to put a rolled up towel below your baby’s bottom to stop them from scooting to the bottom of their bed if they wriggle or kick a lot.