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I have been busy over the past few months getting the house ready for a new baby. I’ve been doing deep cleaning and organizing, and making sure the kids’ rooms are updated so they don’t feel left out and purchasing all those must-have items for our new bundle of joy, like a baby carrier and a swing. With just over a month left until baby boy comes into the world, we have finished all the big purchases and many of the smaller house projects.
We didn’t get a crib, though. And that wasn’t an oversight.
When our last child was born almost 5 years ago. we bought a crib and had it set up in our bedroom. When our baby was born, we used a small in-bed co-sleeper to facilitate the early weeks of breastfeeding, and as time went on, that crib in our bedroom went unused. It was more of a large laundry hamper than a sleep location for our daughter who continued to happily (and safely) sleep away in our bed. When we were planning what purchases we needed to make for our upcoming baby, we quickly checked crib off the list because we knew that, just like last time, it would go unused.
We’ve bought a safe in-bed co-sleeper for those early weeks as well as a bedside bassinet for when we want some space or for when he’s older and needs a nap without mommy. We plan to co-sleep with this baby as we did with our youngest for as long as it makes sense for us (which was about three years with our daughter). We will continue to transition the sleeping to make it safer for different ages and stages, but we’ve realized that the traditional crib we’re all told is a “must-have” item for a new baby is really not at all a “must-have.”
If you’re looking for an alternative to a traditional crib for whatever reason, be it safety, price, or parental practice, there are some great alternatives that you can choose from! Browse this round-up, and you’re bound to find an option that perfectly suits your family.
1. A Floor Bed
All you need is a baby-proofed room and a mattress, and you can place your infant safely with no blankets or pillows either in their own room on in yours.
Pros: You can use an older mattress you don’t have use for, can be used for a long time (my older kids, age 7 and 5, still sleep on theirs)
Cons: You have to really make sure the room is baby-proofed, and, as they age, convincing them to stay in bed takes some time.
2. In-Bed Co-Sleeper
It’s what we used for all three of our children and have a similar one for this new baby when he’s born. It’s just a smaller bed you place in your bed to make bed-sharing safer.
Pros: You can bed-share without having to worry too much more about rolling over onto the baby, thanks to the hard barrier sides.
Cons: The baby outgrows quickly, and you really need to make sure you’re still following the bed-sharing safety guidelines.
3. Moses Basket
I have never used one myself but can see them being really handy purchase if you’re not wanting a traditional crib, but looking for something to use before they’re a little bigger.
Pros: It’s very mobile-friendly, and you can watch your baby sleep or nap anywhere. Great for small spaces or smaller budgets.
Cons: The baby outgrows quickly, and you’ll need to find another solution at after about 3 months.
It looks a lot like a crib, but it’s so much smaller, and with the benefit of the rocking motion it can be used as a all-time sleep solution or for when they’re taking their naps during the day.
Pros: Smaller than a traditional crib and much more affordable.
Cons: Can only be used for about 6 months before baby outgrows the weight guidelines.
5. Travel Crib
You probably only think about a travel crib if you’re looking for a solution at Grandma’s house or if you’re on the go, but it can be a great alternative to a traditional crib at home.
Pros: Light, travel-friendly, and grows well with your child.
Cons: About as expensive as a traditional crib.
6. Pack ‘N Play
We have a Pack’n Play in our room set up for baby’s nap time or when we want a little more space in the bed. Also, it’s important for safety if you’re really tired (which happens with a newborn), and bed-sharing isn’t a good idea when you are.
Pros: Much smaller than a traditional crib, can grow with your baby in stages, not as expensive, and it travels well.
Cons: I don’t know of many cons other than that they can be a little tricky to put together, but likely not much more than a traditional crib.
7. Bed-Side Co-Sleeper
It looks very similar to a Pack’n Play, but this one has a drop-down side in the front to make it line right up, safely, with your mattress.
Pros: It makes it so much closer to bed-sharing without them being in your actual mattress. You can reach the baby for easy and quick feeds.
Cons: Can only be used for about 5 months before the baby outgrows it. Also, you’ll need to buy an attachment if you’ve got a larger bed you need to match up to.
8. Cardboard Box
I’m not kidding! And no, it doesn’t make you a bad parent. In fact, Finnish babies don’t sleep in cribs when they’re first brought home because each family goes home from the hospital with a box for them to sleep in. You can read all about it to see I’m not making it up.
Pros: Very affordable and you can get a larger size if you’ve got a longer baby. Can be easily replaced if broken or damaged.
Cons: Baby will need to find an alternative solution when s/he’s a bit larger.
9. Bed Share
You don’t have to get any sleep solution for your infant other than your own bed. You can even combine it into the floor bed mentioned before. As long as you’re following the strict and important bed-sharing safety guidelines, it’s a good alternative to a crib.
Pros:There is no cost other than your own bed, which you likely already have. It’s a great and simple way for the whole family to get sleep, and facilitates a strong breastfeeding relationship.
Cons: You have to make sure you’re following the safety guidelines — every time.
I think these used to be a pretty popular sleep solution before cribs really became popular, but for some reason, we don’t seem them too often even though they’re still a great choice.
Pros: Great for smaller spaces and lighter budgets. There are newer ones on the market that have songs and/or vibrations as well for a more soothing sleep.
Cons: Baby will likely be too heavy for weight recommendations when s/he reaches 15 lbs.