Sleep Environments by Stage pt.1
Part 1 in a Series : Bringing Home Baby
Congratulations! You are the proud parent of a brand spankin’ new infant; can you believe they actually let you leave the hospital with one of these? Don’t they know you have no clue what to do next? I mean, if that whole infant car seat thing was a test, you totally blew it once the 5th swear word came rolling out.
There’s a lot of controversy and developing information about where infants sleep best in the home environment. You may have heard about the dangers of co-sleeping in bed versus the implied cozy comfort of sleep products such as the Doc A Tot, as well as the newest sleep recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for In-Rooming for the first year. Lots of info, lots of fear, and lots of conflicting opinions from every-damn-one including your in-laws and random strangers in the street shouting at you.
Your decision as to what goes on in the home is up to you and what fits your developing family the best, and it’s bound to change, as will your sleep cycles (yeah, right), the baby’s basic needs, and how you structure help with these needs from whether it’s just you, a partner, a caregiver or even an opinionated in law.
Here’s what we at Cocoongoods recommend for the needs of an infant in your home:
In Room Safe Sleep for the first year (or as long as you can hack it)
We believe the AAP’s recommendation to have your infant share the bedroom for at least the first six months of life is a really great step forward in addressing the safety and well being of babies and parent alike. This proximity gives you as a parent the opportunity to check on baby throughout the night as well as become attuned to their sleep cycles, cries (oh don’t worry, there will be plenty), and sweet snuffles and lip smacks (which pretty much make up for all that crying!)
Next to Bed Furniture Sleep Solutions
Along the lines of the AAP, we recommend you evaluate what furniture-based solution the size and conditions of your bedroom demand. A stand alone or bedside attached sleeper, such as a bassinet, will make nursing and skin to skin time easier to achieve, as long as you don’t fall asleep with baby when all that cuddling is successful in calming and nurturing your babe back to sleep. These smaller scale options can make it easier to get used to your new role as primary caregiver, butt cleaner, attend to all needs-er as you are basically at eye level and within hands-reach at all times. This also works well for those of us with smaller bedrooms, or non-traditional spaces for sleep.
If you have a larger space to work with, we recommend integrating the actual crib into your bedroom, rather than advocating the purchase of a single use solution for only infant sleep, as in no time flat (call it less than 3 months), your baby will have outgrown the sleeper developmentally (literally, as soon as they start to roll over, that bassinet has gotta go!) Don’t be fooled by the weight ranges some manufacturers use to sell their products as a longer term solution, all the features that make bassinets convenient (lighter weight, lower sides, cozier environment suited to the length of the infant) make them a hazard if used once baby is more mobile and heavier.
Near to Bed Furniture Sleep Solutions
At Cocoongoods, we feel strongly that buying a long term product, like our CG-1 Modular System, that supports all of your Littles’ changing sleep needs is an important environmentally-sensitive and thoughtful decision. Choosing a solution that grows with you keeps outdated and single use products out of the waste cycle and reduces the churn of manufacturing more and more of these products to be discarded or passed around endlessly (which also leaves you out in the cold in terms of warranty or, heaven forbid, a safety recall). If your bedroom can manage it, putting baby’s crib into a well fit, properly ventilated space within it is another great way to get the benefits of In-Rooming. Cribs have the ability to fit the needs of the infant by using the highest mattress setting when you first bring baby home, and the miracle of swaddling (which we highly, highly recommend as well) makes even the larger interior space of a full size crib feel just as cozy to your infant. You can position the crib to be at eye level with baby as a side-by-side solution, or use the space at the end of your bed as an opportunity to position the crib just a little bit further away, and maybe encourage a little more evenly distributed sharing of the middle of the night duties.
Safe Sleep Precautions
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a real and very scary concern to wrestle with in your early days as a parent. In-Rooming can help address some of the underlying issues that have been linked to this cause for concern. Remember to follow the list of helpful risk-reducing tips to create a Safe Sleep environment:
- Infants should be placed on their back to sleep.
- Sleep surfaces should be flat, firm and covered with a tight fitting sheet, without soft materials or accessories such as bumper pads, blankets, pillows or even cute stuffed toys. Sorry, Elmo.
- Keep the room environment at a comfortable temperature, and dress baby for that room temperature without over-bundling. Advanced Tip :: Try a Sleep Sack with bottom-up zipper to make diaper changes easier as well as maintain an appropriate sleep temperature for baby (plus, bonus cute points!).
- Consider adding a ceiling fan or well-placed tabletop model; some studies have shown that air movement in the room from using a fan can reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 72%.
- Avoid smoke and fumes in the sleeping environment, as well as indoor air pollutants. Some studies have indicated that VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds, chemical compounds left over from the manufacturing process) from off-gassing products such as carpets, paints, and furniture can also be a contributing risk factor for SIDS. Not to mention that the fumes from VOCs can lead to developing respiratory problems, allergies, dizziness, and nausea, as well as liver, kidney, and CNS damage long term in growing kids (and you!) At Cocoongoods, we definitely recommend looking for home products that are 0% or low VOC, such as our ECOS Lullaby Nursery paint, as a way to safeguard this precious interior space, and note that our furniture also uses a No VOC finish that is safe ~ non-toxic and non-allergenic as certified by the British Allergy Foundation. Alternatively, we strongly suggest that you air out (outside if possible) furniture and home coverings from other purveyors for several weeks prior to bringing home baby to reduce the strong chemical smell and use the bleaching and warming power of the sun to help clean up the nasties that can proliferate from a long shelf sit and trip from far away via container ship.
- Employ common sense, take a step back and evaluate your space well, with safety in mind. Make sure cords from blinds and excess curtains are contained and away from the crib. Invest in a monitor and or white noise machine to make your life just a little bit easier in the 10 or so minutes you’ll have away from your infant each night, but make sure to manage cords so they are securely routed away from the crib. Turn those suckers on, give yourself permission to leave the room, and BREATHE!
We hope you found these guidelines and tips useful in those delirious first few weeks and months getting to know your infant. Check back for the next part of our series covering the Baby Years… (kinda like the Wonder Years, but hindsight is 20/20!)
All our best,