One of the most exciting aspects of preparing for a new baby is organising their nursery. Thinking about where your baby will eventually sleep and what they are going to sleep in takes some planning and discussion. Practical factors such as the size of your house and the number of children will determine whether the new baby will have their own room, or need to share with an older sibling. There is too much individual variation in families and homes to say what is the best option. Parents generally make their own decisions based on what will work in their home and what suits their family.
No matter how much planning is done though, most parents want their newborn to sleep in the same room as they do. The parent’s bedroom is recommended as the safest place for babies to sleep for the first 6 to 12 months of their life. Placing your baby’s cot or bassinette next to your bed will allow you to see them and feel reassured they are safe. Parents and their newborns are not meant to be physically separated and they need to be close to each other. After 12 months, most parents are ready to move their baby into their own room or nursery.
This is really about personal choice. Some parents prefer the size of a bassinette because it takes up such a small amount of space and is portable. Mothers particularly, can feel a bassinette creates a cosier sleeping atmosphere for their small baby. Other parents like to use a cot from birth and avoid the inevitable transition to one when the baby is around 3-4 months old.
The major considerations are the safety aspects of both. If a cot or bassinette has been handed down in a family and has not been bought new, it needs to be checked as safe so it does not pose a risk of harm. A mandatory Australian Standard Safety standard applies to cots. Check here for information about bassinettes.
Bassinettes look sweet, though parents need to be careful about using bumpers, ribbon ties and lots of loose bedding in them. Those that have a rocking function can be risky, especially with young toddlers in the house. Bassinettes with wheels need to have a locking mechanism as well.
Whether you use a bassinette or a cot, make sure it is positioned flat on the floor. There is no benefit to raising the head of a bassinette or cot and doing this does not help with reflux.
Some babies don’t settle well when placed into their bassinette. Even if they seem deeply asleep in their parent’s arms before being transferred, they wake and cry before their parent gets to the door. Generally, the reason comes down to the baby preferring the safety and security of being held. Often, they will go off to sleep when being fed or held and wake as soon as this ‘parent assisted’ settling is stopped. It’s not so much the bassinette they’re protesting about, but the fact they’re not being held anymore.
Try placing your baby into their bassinette when they’re showing tired signs. Gently position your baby on their back and pat and soothe them when they’re already out of your arms. At first, they may protest and cry though with time and practice, your baby will learn some small and early steps towards self-settling. Remember, it’s important that you reassure and cuddle your baby if they need it.
Check here for more information on safe sleeping.
The safest place for your baby to sleep is in their own safe sleeping space. For each and every sleep, day and night, it’s important to follow the safe sleeping guidelines.
In many societies, parents co-sleep with their children. In Australia, parents who follow an Attachment Parenting approach see co-sleeping as a vital part of their overall philosophy. Co-sleeping is thought to help with bonding, successful breastfeeding and to promote better sleep. Some experts believe co-sleeping is protective to children; and even when they’re asleep parents retain a sense of surveillance over their child.
If you choose to co-sleep with your baby, check here for information. For the majority of Australian parents, their children have their own safe cot to sleep in.
The major issues to consider with bedding are safety and hygiene.
Edited and reviewed by Jane Barry, Midwife and Child Health Nurse July 2021.