Where Should Newborns Sleep? (Crib, Cradles, and Basinets)
Fact checked by Heather Wallace, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Postpartum Doula, and Positive Parenting Expert.
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Where Should Newborns Sleep?
Deciding on where your new baby is going to sleep is a major decision! The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that newborns sleep in the same room as you but not in the same bed. Co-sleeping in the same bed leads to a higher risk of SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The debate over where newborns should sleep has many different opinions. Let's look at the different sleep strategies for new babies.
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Of course, for some parents sleeping in the same room is not feasible or desired, but have no fear; there are plenty of safe options for your baby to sleep in their own room as well. Many parents have questions like, “Is it safe for a baby to sleep in a pack ‘n play every night?” and “Is it ok for my baby to take naps in a stroller?” We’ve got the answers for you!
We've gathered together the safest and most recommended places to make your baby's sleep restful for both them and you!
Should Newborns Sleep in Cribs?
Perhaps the most traditional choice for a baby is the crib. Cribs come in all colors, sizes, and materials, but the good news is that federal guidelines regulate all modern cribs. Cribs are also the best long-term investment because your child can use them his or her entire first year, and often well beyond that if you purchase one that converts to a bed.
Having your newborn sleep in a crib from the get-go also helps new parents establish a sleep schedule with their child, as there will be no transitioning to a new sleeping place until well after his or her first birthday.
Things to Avoid
- Older and used cribs that do not meet federal guidelines
- Cribs with broken or missing slats
- Crib bumpers or soft bedding
Top Picks for New Baby Cribs
Can Newborns Sleep in Bassinets?
Bassinets are a wonderful choice for parents who wish to keep their babies close to them while they sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) recommends babies sleeping in the same room as the parents for the first few weeks of a baby's life. Both a crib or a bassinet should be at least one foot away from anything else in the bedroom, including mom's bed. The AAP does not advise attaching a bassinet to a bed to act as a co-sleeper.
Things to Avoid:
- Bassinets on wheels that do not lock
- Old-fashioned or heirloom bassinets that might not be up to safety standards
- Fluffy or frilly curtains or bedding. Newborns should sleep on a firm mattress with a fitted sheet and no additional bedding or stuffed animals
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What Are Safe Bedside Co-Sleepers for Newborns?
The American Academy of Pediatrics does not advise co-sleeping in the same bed due to the increased risk of SIDS. The AAP has no recommendations for in-bed sleepers, and there are currently no Consumer Safety Product standards for in-bed sleepers like there are for bedside sleepers.
Things to Avoid
- In-bed co-sleepers
- Mattresses or sheets not specifically recommended for your co-sleeper
- Positioners or any other devices meant to alter the way your baby lies on the mattress unless specifically recommended by your pediatrician
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- Convertible Bedside Sleeper
Can Babies Sleep in Play Yards Instead of a Crib?
Play Yards are an excellent alternative to a crib in your bedroom, and best of all, they can be easily moved about the home as needed. Play yards are considered a safe sleep surface and provide soft, breathable siding without crib bumpers, which are not recommended due to the risk of SIDS and strangulation. So if you can only have one and you are deciding on pack n play vs. crib, opt for the pack n play because of its versatility.
Like cribs, play yards are subjected to rigid safety standards and considered an extremely safe option for room-sharing. So if you were wondering, “Can my baby sleep in a playpen?” Yes, they can! In fact, it is what most hotels offer as a sleeping option for infants and toddlers.
Things to Avoid
- Old and worn-out Play Yards. It is recommended that you purchase a play yard made in 2013 or newer. Always check for wear and tear.
- Thick mattresses and loose bedding. Always use the mattress that came with the play yard as well as a tightly fitted sheet.
- Soft objects such as bumper pads, toys, or blankets.
Top Picks for Play Yards
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Graco Pack n Play
The Graco Pack n Play is undoubtedly the most popular and well-known play yard out there and therefore deserves a special mention. I personally used it, and it is what many other parents I know had or have in their homes. The Graco Pack n Play was a lifesaver for me because I lived far away from family when my kids were babies, so we did a lot of traveling and took our pack n play to grandma’s house, hotels, and everywhere in between, and our baby slept in it every night.
The Graco Pack n Play was durable enough to last through two kids and was the perfect playpen for my baby to nap or play. Your baby can sleep in a playpen every night as long as it is used, just like a crib with no blankets, sheets, or other bedding, and your baby is placed on their back to sleep.
What Cradle Should Newborns Sleep In?
Cradles are a great space-saving option. Many have the traditional look of a baby's crib; however, since cradles move by design, it could cause your baby to roll over unintentionally, which goes against the "back is best" stance to reduce SIDS.
If you decide to use a cradle, opt for a newer model that has a locking arm that prevents it from rocking once your baby is asleep. Additionally, babies rocked to sleep in a cradle may rely on that motion, making it harder to transition them to a traditional crib when the time comes.
Things to Avoid
- Older cradles that you cannot lock
- Soft crib mattresses or soft bedding
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Rocking Sleepers & Seats
Baby seats, swings, rocking sleepers, and even car seats are a great way to lull your baby to sleep or calm them when they are fussy, but they are not recommended for longer stretches of sleep. When developing your baby's sleep patterns or bedtime routines, you should avoid these types of sleepers.
That being said, having one in your living room or home to help your baby sleep from time to time can feel like a lifesaver. It is recommended that once your baby falls asleep, you move him or her to their crib, where they can sleep safely on their back.
Things to Avoid
- Leaving your baby in these seats for long periods or naps
- Inclined sleepers
Top Rockers and Sleeper Seats
Infant Sleep Tips
- Pacifier use is believed to reduce the risk of SIDS. Always remove pacifier clips or strings before giving it to your baby in his or her crib.
- Breastfeeding is known to reduce the risk of SIDS. If you cannot breastfeed, consider pumping breast milk to bottle feed.
- Keep your baby's room temperature at a comfortable point, around 68 degrees.
- Safely swaddling your baby can help him or her sleep. However, the AAP and other research advises parents to stop swaddling by 8 weeks old or when your baby shows any signs of rolling (arching, twisting, kicking legs, etc.).
- When possible, choose baby products approved by the CPSC, ASTM International, or the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA).
- If you know ahead of time you will be having a C-Section, consider the height of your baby's sleeper. It may be difficult to bend low.
- If you bring your baby into your bed to feed during the night, make sure you return him or her to his or her sleep place before falling back asleep.
- Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep. Once he or she can roll over independently, there is no need to flip him or her back onto his or her back if he or she rolls over while sleeping.
Products and Things to Avoid
- Infant sleep positioners liked wedges and bolsters. Products may claim that they reduce the risk of SIDS, acid reflux, or GERD, or flat head syndrome, but there is no evidence that these claims are accurate, and in fact, these devices may increase the risk of SIDS.
- Crib bumpers, blankets, and other soft animals. There should be nothing in your baby's crib except your baby.
- Moses Baskets. They usually have soft bedding and sides. Save these for photo opportunities only! Any crib, bassinet, chair, or other devices that have broken or missing parts.
- Mattresses that are not recommended for your product. There should be no more than two fingers width between the side of the sleeper and the mattress.
- Remove mobiles from above your baby’s crib once they are able to sit up as they could pull it down.
- Cribs should never be placed near windows, cords or blinds, or furniture with objects your child may pull down onto themselves.
A sleep schedule is important for both you and your baby. Explore Essential Products to Help Your Baby and Toddler Sleep.
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About L. Elizabeth Forry
L. Elizabeth Forry is an Early Childhood Educator with 15 years of classroom experience.