Practically everyone you meet will have advice about how to get your baby to sleep. Getting babies to sleep is one of those topics that unites us parents – we’ve all struggled with it at one point or another. It goes without saying that you’ll definitely want to set yourself up for success when it comes to getting your baby to sleep. For the first few months of your baby’s life, they should be put to sleep in a bassinet or co-sleeper in your bedroom. Newborn baby bassinets can be used until your baby can start pulling themselves up.
AAP Safe Newborn Sleep Recommendations:
While the cause of SIDS remains unknown, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued preventive recommendations, including but not limited to: always put children to sleep on their back, use a firm sleep surface, avoid bumpers and soft objects in cribs, room-share (but not bed-share), breastfeed, give immunizations, and use a pacifier at naps and bedtime.
There is a possible link between SIDS and toxic chemicals in baby mattresses, and while this theory hasn’t been proven it hasn’t been disproven. Given all of the risks and uncertainty – and the general importance of reducing your baby’s exposure to toxic chemicals – I feel it’s important to invest in non-toxic bassinets and organic items for your baby’s sleep. To help your baby sleep comfortably and safely, below are some of the best – tried and true – newborn baby bassinets and co-sleepers available.
What to Look for in a Bassinet or Co-Sleeper:
- Breathable sides. The bassinet that I originally bought didn’t have breathable (mesh) sides, and after a while it started giving me anxiety. I think this is one of the most important things to look for in a bassinet.
- Natural, untreated fabrics. Since babies spend so much time sleeping, you don’t want them to be exposed to fabrics treated with chemical flame-retardants.
- Portability. For the first 4-6 months, babies can sleep in a smaller, more portable place than a crib. You may find that it’s easier to move this from room to room for naps, for example. Something lightweight is ideal.
- Stability. I found some newborn baby bassinets to be too lightweight and practically flimsy. You’ll want to make sure that whichever one you purchase will be stable enough to support baby, especially if you have other children or pets.
- Height. You’ll want to consider the height of the bassinet or co-sleeper when making a decision. My son woke up a lot at night, and I found myself getting exhausted at having to keep getting out of bed. I wish I had gotten a co-sleeper that would have allowed me to have the baby in his own sleeping environment, but just at an arm’s distance.
When it comes to non-toxic bassinets, I feel that there is sadly no perfect option out there that meets all of the important requirements. It’s frustrating because it could be so simple for one company to swoop in and make a truly all-around non-toxic bassinet.
Newborn Baby Bassinets & Co-Sleepers:
The AAP recommends that babies sleep in the same room as the parents (but not in the same bed) for the first six months. Most families can’t fit a crib in the master bedroom, so another sleeping solution is usually needed. For the first few months, you’ll probably want to have baby sleeping in a bassinet or co-sleeper in your room – although it’s highly recommended to try to have your baby nap in their crib once a day so that they can get a little used to it from the beginning. (It makes transitioning them to the crib a lot easier later on.) Important: If using a bassinet, Moses basket, or co-sleeper, you must discontinue use once your baby starts showing signs of rolling over, pulling up, or kneeling. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Here are some sleep options for baby’s first few months that you should consider:
- Moses Basket: Moses baskets are growing in popularity, and for good reason – they’re affordable, extremely portable, and offer organic options. What I dislike about Moses baskets is that the side bumper pads are not breathable, so for that reason I can’t enthusiastically recommend this option. However, if this is what you prefer, consider the Wendy Anne Cozy Baby Organic Moses Basket and the Little Merry Fellows Baby Basket. No matter which bassinet you buy, you’ll also need a rocking basket stand.
- BABYBJORN Cradle: The BABYBJORN Cradle delivers big with breathable sides, Oexo-Tek fabric, and lightweight portability. It also rocks, which helps with soothing baby in those early months. The fabric and mattress cover are removable for easy washing, too. The cradle is manufactured in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but please note that even though they use non-toxic fabric, the cradle does contain an MDF board below the mattress. It does not contain formaldehyde, however. I’m disappointed that such a conscious company would use MDF in their baby cradle. If you decide to go with the BABYBJORN Cradle, you may want to get it a few months in advance and air it out before baby comes.
- Halo Swivel Sleeper Bassinet: The Halo Bassinet is pretty new to the market but has become a very popular option among parents. It’s hailed as a great alternative to bed-sharing because it allows you to just almost barely bed-share by being right next to your bed, but to still allow baby her own sleeping space. Here’s the lowdown on the Halo: (1) it offers breathable mesh sides so you don’t have to worry when baby starts scooching to be closer to you or rolling to his side, (2) it is BPA-free, (3) it has a height-adjustment feature and a base that can be tucked under your bed to allow you to get baby super close to you in bed (making it much like bed-sharing), but also allowing you to save space, (4) it has a drop-down side wall that allows you to easily get baby out of the bassinet without completely getting out of bed (yes, this does matter!), (5) it rotates to allow you to get out of bed easily, (6) and it has a built-in nightlight and vibration feature (only available in the premiere series). The downside is that the HALO contains polyester and polyurethane, though the manufacturer claims no toxic flame retardants. Thankfully, HALO does offer an organic bassinet mattress, which I highly recommend.
- Land of Nod’s Olin Bassinet: The Olin Bassinet from Land of Nod is made of solid teak wood, and has a non-toxic finish. However, please note that Land of Nod manufactures most of their furniture in China, Thailand, and Vietnam. They do offer an organic sheet option for the Olin Bassinet.
- Fisher Price Deluxe Rock & Play Sleeper: The Fisher Price Rock & Play is not natural or non-toxic in any capacity. It isn’t intended for sleep, so many pediatricians will recommend against using this for unsupervised sleep. However, my son had acid reflux and this was where he slept best. I know that for many families, the Rock & Play is an unintentional favorite, simply because that’s where babies sleep best. Not only does it enable babies to sleep at a slight elevation (which goes against the Al;p/AP recommendation to have babies sleep flat on their back), but it also envelops them in an embrace. This is one product I tell every mom about, but only recommend having as a backup in case baby won’t sleep on a flat surface like a bassinet. Talk to your pediatrician about this option. Please note that if you do have your baby sleep in the Rock & Play, you’ll likely have a tough time transitioning them to their crib once they outgrow the Rock & Play. However, there are ways around this.
- Arms Reach Co-Sleeper. The Arms Reach Co-Sleeper has been a popular choice among parents who wish to co-sleep without bed-sharing because it actually attaches to your bed. It’s definitely not the prettiest option available, but it is a functional choice for having baby near mom at night. A lot of my mom friends have used the Arm’s Reach and been happy with it. There’s an option to purchase a Mini Organic Mattress for the Arm’s Reach, which I’m very happy to see. It does have breathable sides, and a nice storage compartment below where the baby sleeps, for added convenience (i.e. you can change diapers in here!). Please note that this item is also manufactured in China and is not non-toxic, so if you go this route it would be best to buy it in advance and let it air out.
More Nursery Essentials:
- Organic Bassinet Bedding: Naturepedic makes an Organic Cotton Bassinet Fitted Sheet that is made in the United States. This fits many bassinets, including oval bassinets and the BABYBJORN.
- Temperature Gauge: The AAP recommends that babies sleep in a room that is between 65-70 F. To ensure sleep safety, have a room temperature gauge in baby’s room at all times. Some baby monitors also show the room temperature, but to be honest I’ve never fully trusted the temperature gauge on our baby monitor.AcuRite Indoor Humidity Monitor
- AcuRite Indoor Humidity Monitor: This is the room temp monitor that we use and I’m pretty happy with it. It offers both Fahrenheit and Celsius readings, and also monitors indoor humidity. It says it has a 4 degree margin of error, which seems pretty high to me, but I have found it to be consistent in its temperature readings.
- Aden + Anais Serenity Star: This is a clock that not only reads the temperature, but glows red, blue, or white if the room is above, below, or at the ideal temperature. One Amazon reviewer said that she loves this feature because she can glance at the Serenity Star from down the hall and know whether the room temperature needs to be adjusted. (However, most babies prefer to sleep in darkness and would therefore get very distracted by this feature – so it could disrupt naps or nighttime sleep.) The Serenity Star also lets you track baby’s nursing sessions (though it might be easier to do this on an app on your smartphone), and doubles as a night-light for middle-of-the-night feedings.
- White Noise Machine for Babies: Some babies can sleep through anything, but my son definitely preferred the shushing and comforting sound of white noise, as a lot babies do. A white noise machine helps babies to connect their sleep cycles by offering a constant, womb-like sound in the background. A noise machine is also recommended because it masks background noises. Do you plan to wash the dishes while baby sleeps? Take a shower? Walk down the stairs? Do you have creaky hardwood floors? All of this can potentially wake up your little one before they’re done napping – more so if they are a light sleeper. When choosing a white noise machine, it’s important to get one that truly makes white noise, and isn’t playing a recording of white noise (or worse, music or lullabies). Also, it’s ideal to select a white noise machine that doesn’t automatically turn off after a set period of time. Some noise machines shut off after 15-45 minutes, and this makes them kind of useless. Important: make sure to keep any white noise machine at least 5 feet away (preferably more) from baby so as not to do any damage to their hearing.
- Marpac DOHM-DS Natural White Noise Sound Machine: The Marpac DOHM is the best sound machine out there, and it’s even the official sound machine of the National Sleep Foundation. The reason this is recommended is because it has an actual fan inside, making this true white noise (as opposed to a recording of white noise). It’s pricey but worth it.
- Sleep Easy Sound Conditioner. At about half the price of the Marpac, the Sleep Easy Sound Conditioner is a lesser-priced option that offers similar features. I haven’t tried this myself, but it has good reviews on Amazon.