Crib, or Moses Basket
You might decide that a cot is too big and daunting for a newborn. They often sleep better in a smaller crib or a Moses basket which has the advantage of being portable so baby can nap wherever you are. It is generally advisable to keep baby in the same room as mother for their first six months, so choose a crib that will fit in with your own room
There are many designs to choose from. Basic checks are for stability on their frames, check that there are no rough edges, and check for factory odours. Don’t feel that a crib is a necessity; another option is to buy a pram with a detachable carry-cot. This old-fashioned style pram doubles as a crib which has the benefit of being on wheels so that baby can be rocked or swayed, or taken for a walk in it.
Baby-Bed or Cot Bed
Again, it is generally advised that baby sleeps in the same room as mother for their first six months, so choose a baby-bed that will also work in your own bedroom.
Although I have designed and manufactured many baby-beds, I have to admit that (despite frustrated efforts) none of my children would ever sleep in one. However [having been foster-father to several other babies] I do have practical experience of good and bad models.
A baby-bed is a piece of furniture that you will only use for perhaps two years, so before you go shopping there is no shame in asking around family and friends to borrow one. If you do borrow a baby-bed, purchase a new mattress, and give the body of the baby-bed a good scrub clean.
Baby-beds come in different designs. Despite the many designs and configurations remember that the principle purpose of this little bed is to keep baby safe while they sleep, (and while they should be asleep).
When a baby is very young and unable to sit up it is convenient for mother to be able to raise the level of the mattress so that stooping is minimised; most baby-beds have this multiple level feature so that when baby is able to stand and climb the mattress level can be fixed low enough to prevent climbing out. Check the levels which are offered and that they work for your height.
The side-rails often have the feature of sliding up and down. If you like this feature check that the mechanism is quiet and free-running, (the last thing you want is for this sliding action to waken baby out of a sleep with clicks, squeaks and shakes). (I am tall so personally do not like the sliding side rail feature, however I have never suffered child-birth or its aftereffects, so I don’t know how much easier it is for a woman to lift a baby with the side rails up.)
Generally, when the baby needs lifted and is big enough to stand, then you don’t need to stoop into the baby-bed to lift them.
Check if the side rails can be removed. If a siderail can be removed without compromising the stability of the baby-bed it gives you the option of pushing the baby-bed up against your own bed and at the same level, and this is particularly useful if you are breastfeeding during the night because baby is right beside you in a little extension of your own bed.
There are designs of baby-beds which convert to starter beds and little sofas or toy boxes. If your choice of baby-bed has this choice of conversion check that each configuration is fit for purpose, don’t rely on a nice picture in a brochure, ask the showroom to show you a converted model so that you can give it a once-over check.
A useful addition to the baby-bed is a protective cover for the top edge of the siderails. When baby is big enough to stand, this rail is often the right height for chewing, and although paints are tested for toxicity, it is better that baby chews on something soft and avoids damaging the furniture. Check that the gaps between the side-rail bars do not exceed 40mm; and give the finish a good sniff to check for paint and lacquer odours.
General safety advice for baby:
- always place your baby on their back to sleep
- avoid smoking in pregnancy, that includes dad to be
- don’t let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby
- don’t let your baby get too hot
- quilts, duvets, and pillows should not be used for babies under 12 months old, as they may overheat
- keep your baby’s head uncovered
- if your baby is unwell in any way seek medical advice at once
- don’t fall asleep with your baby on the sofa
- keep your baby’s cot in your bedroom for the first 6 months
- do not share a bed with your baby if you or your partner smoke, have been drinking alcohol, taking drugs or are on medication which makes you drowsy or excessively tired
Never place the cot near a hot radiator, a sunny window, shelves, ledges, or appliances that exploring little hands can grab, nor beneath a wall-hanging frame (especially one with glass or a mirror).