Cribs Versus Co-Sleepers: Pros and Cons

Filed under: Babies


Will your baby sleep in a crib, bassinet or Co-sleeper? Credit: Getty


Trying to decide which kind of crib to choose for your baby can make new parents feel like they've entered a great debate. Traditional or bassinet? Secondhand or brand new? Dark wood or shiny and white?

And then, there's the whole question of whether or not to use a crib at all.

While it may be tempting to sleep with your baby, much of the information a new parent hears advises against it. Many experts agree, including those at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, that sleeping in your bed with an infant may be unsafe and could lead to the suffocation of the child. Cribs and Co-sleepers are alternatives with both pros and cons and, as with many parenting decisions, choosing between a crib or a Co-Sleeper or bassinet is a personal decision.


A Co-Sleeper is the trademarked name of a three-sided bassinet that attaches to an adult bed. Co-sleeping, which refers to parents who prefer sleeping with their infant in the adult bed, might consider using such an attachment.

Often, a mother prefers putting the baby in a bassinet near her bed because it provides a closeness that a crib may not provide, and makes night-time feedings easier. Similarly, a Co-Sleeper can be placed beside the parents' bed, with three sides providing protection to keep the baby from falling out. The proximity of the attachment generally makes accessing the baby easier for the parents.

Sleeping close to the baby, some suggest, enables an emotional security and closeness that would be hard to duplicate with a child sleeping farther away or alone in a crib. And, although bonding is considered, parents often cite safety as a concern for choosing co-sleeping over crib-sleeping. SIDS is mentioned as something that decreases when co-sleeping is an option.

However, the risk of harm may rise when a parent who has consumed alcohol co-sleeps with a baby. A convertible bassinet is a space-saving option to try if a co-sleeping attachment is too bulky next to the parents' bed.

Talk to parents who use a crib and you'll find safety also is a primary concern. Depending on the size of the parents' room, some are able to put the crib close to the adult bed, which also allows for proximity of care and nurturing. Then, as the baby matures, the crib may be maneuvered farther from the parents' bed until the child moves into the nursery. Some parents also suggest that putting an infant in a crib allows Mom and Dad to have a better night's sleep, which is beneficial to the parents, as well as the baby.

Regardless of your preference, plan on purchasing the co-sleeping bassinet or crib before your baby's arrival so there is plenty of time to figure out its placement. When selecting either option, review safety precautions and closely follow directions for set-up.

And, with either choice, parents should read the pros and cons of each method. Determine what works best for you while taking the necessary precautions for safe, sound sleep for the entire family. Some flexibility may be required -- each child is different and your baby may not like the co-sleeping bed or may not like sleeping in a crib. Remember, figuring out how to get your baby -- and you! -- a good night's sleep is a personal choice.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.