The right infant sleeper looks exactly nothing like the recalled Rock ‘n Play sleeper. And that’s a good thing. A safe, snug infant sleeper can buy you precious minutes, or perhaps hours, of quiet, especially if you opt for one that rocks. But letting babies sleep with their head elevated, the American Academy of Pediatrics noted, can lead to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.
Consumer Reports recently called on manufacturers to voluntarily recall all inclined baby sleepers because they’re just not safe for infants. And if you’re a second-time parent who loved the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play sleeper for your first child, you may be wondering what other options you have, like a freestanding bassinet or bedside co-sleeper.
Experts say parents should never use a car seat, stroller, swing, sling, wedge, or any other similar product for unsupervised sleep. But the difference, say doctors, is that when your baby snoozes in the car, you’re present in the driver or passenger seat. But at home, it’s all too easy to leave your child sleeping in a swing without supervision while you grab a quick shower or check the ‘Gram.
“Infant sleep is super-hard. Anyone who’s had a kid knows that. But the fact is, we can sleep. We slept for millions of years before we had Rock ’n Plays,”says Dr. Ben Hoffman, a pediatrician and the chair of the AAP’s Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, who urged the CSPC and Fisher-Price to recall the sleeper. “Sleep will always be a challenge. But we need to shift how people see and act around sleep. There’s a huge problem in the perception of risk. Adults don’t perceive sleep as risky. But ten babies die a day in their sleep in the United States. There is a risk and you need to know how do you minimize risk,”
Hoffman’s guidelines are simple: “Products that have a reclined position are not a safe position for sleep. Babies need to sleep on flat surfaces, with nothing other than them inside the sleep space.”
Now, if parents do want to use a swing, baby seat, or bouncer so you can, you know, poop in peace or empty the dishwasher, the rule is simple: don’t leave your child unattended. “As parents, you should not be napping yourself or going to bed if your baby is unattended in any sleeping device,” Boucher says.
As for reflux, says Hoffman, “sleeping at an angle does not help reflux at all and can make it worse. The bottom line is, don’t sleep at an angle.”
With that in mind, here are baby and infant sleepers that are safe. Always remember that the days are long but the years are short and soon enough you’ll have a new problem: Dragging your snoozy tween out of bed to catch the morning school bus.
Baby Sleepers and Infant Sleepers
This portable bassinet is ideal for nursing mothers because it swivels and rotates 360 degrees to give you easy access to your baby, and it has a base that fits under more adult beds. It has a built-in nightlight, it vibrates, and plays six different lullabies.
Pros: Halo’s newest bassinet fits babies weighing up to 20 pounds. It has a safety lock that allows you to feed your baby without leaving your bed. The base is height adjustable and can be customized to the height of almost any bed.
Cons: Like we said, it’s suitable for the first months only. And because this does not collapse, it should stay put in one home. The cradle disconnects easily from the base, so it’s easily movable, but cannot be used without the base for safety reasons.
Your baby lies flat in this infant sleeper from Fisher-Price. And if you so choose, you get 30 minutes of calming vibrations, music and sounds.
Pros: We like the nightlight feature on this baby sleeper, plus the sweet twinkly stars mobile. And there’s a nice amount of storage space beneath the bassinet.
Cons: Do note that if you run the automatic music and vibrations, they shut off after 30 minutes.
Part glider, part swing, part infant sleeper, this one does it all and fits babies up to 25 pounds in swing mode.
Pros: We like the unobtrusive style and colors of this thing. Plus it doubles as a portable rocker with carry handles. The swing has six motions you can choose, and two speeds. The swing also features a three-position recline (we always recommend the flat position), and plays 15 songs and sounds.
Cons: Nothing major, except that it’s on the bulkier side.
This portable travel crib is light, has breathable mesh sides and a soft, comfy mattress for your baby.
Pros: The surface is flat, which is a must, and the mesh side panels provide optimal ventilation and visibility. It’s easy to set up and take apart. And it’s from a very trusted baby brand.
Cons: It’s not cheap, but the quality is worth it.
If you prefer a crib that rocks your baby gently to sleep, here's a great option.
Pros: This good-looking cradle is great for newborns until your kid hits three months. It’s modern and sleek and unfussy. And since you don’t need batteries because it rocks on its own, that makes things a bit easier.
Cons: There’s no storage.
This ultra-portable bassinet has a memory-foam mattress and can be set up or taken down in minutes.
Pros: The mesh panels allow plenty of air to circulate around your baby, which experts believe may help reduce the risk of SIDS. It also comes with a handy carrying bag and a soft, comfy-feeling fitted sheet.
Cons: It has a 20 pound weight limit, so depending on how quickly your baby grows, you may not get a ton of mileage.
The bassinet's rocking movement soothes your baby and helps him or her fall asleep.
Pros: We love the look of this baby rocker sleeper, and the fact that it’s totally portable. It can be locked into stationary mode, and it has mesh panels for maximum airflow. Plus, you can see your kid.
Cons: It has a 15 pound weight limit, so you won’t be using it for long.
This three in one sleep system provides a safe place for your baby to snooze. It starts out as a rocking bassinet, then becomes a portable crib, and finally winds up a travel cot.
Pros: You step on the foot pedal and the bassinet rocks your baby sleep. The breathable mesh mattress reduces the risk of overheating and the sleep set folds into a carry bag. It’s suitable for babies from birth to 30 pounds.
Cons: This bassinet is somewhat difficult to put together.
If you were using the Rock 'n Play bedside, here's an easy-to-find, safe replacement that works for both sleep and play.
Pros: The swing-away changing table and diaper stacker create a nice hub when you need deal with middle-of-the-night messes. It also has a mobile, a one-hand locking mechanism and a music center that plays either tunes or nature sounds. And there’s a period in your life when it makes sense to have an extra resting spot for visiting little ones, and this does the job well since you can easily stash it in a closet.
Cons: The pattern isn’t our favorite and although it does fold up easily, it’s not especially sleek or lightweight.
The On-the-Go baby dome is round, flat, and portable. It folds flat for easy transport. If you use it outdoors, there's a canopy to keep the sun and bugs out. And it has removable hanging toys.
Pros: This is a solid sleeper for babies, because it’s flat. Parents can also use it for supervised tummy time. And older babies can play in it, thanks to the hanging toys.
Cons: The netting only provides UPF 20 protection, so don’t leave your child in the sun.
The beauty of the Lotus is that it's designed to save your aching back. Rather than having to lean over the mesh walls of the crib to put down and pick up your baby, this clever crib features a zippable side-panel door that lets you slide your little one in easily. Even better, you can leave it open during playtime so you kid can crawl in and out on his own.
Pros: In transit, the backpack straps make it easy to carry with you. And when you arrive at your destination, it only takes 15 seconds to set up the Lotus.
Cons: The mattress is a weird size, and reviewers have said that you should stick with Guava Family sheets, which gives you less flexibility than a standard size crib.
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