The right baby sleeper can be a lifesaver for parents. That’s because a safe, snug infant sleeper can buy you precious minutes, or perhaps hours, of quiet. But picking the right sleeper is of paramount importance. Letting babies sleep with their head elevated, the American Academy of Pediatrics noted, can lead to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed. And if you’re a second-time parent who loved the now-recalled 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.
In fact, 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.
“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.”
Pediatrician Phil Boucher, who is based in Lincoln, Nebraska and created the Mighty Sleepers program, had this to say: “There are always new devices coming out and someone selling something that guarantees to solve all their problems, but babies should sleep flat on their back in a sleeping surface that is boring,” he says. “By that I mean no pillows, blankets, bumpers, wedges, or anything else. Just super plain and simple — you don’t need to spend a fortune either.”
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 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.
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.
This stable bassinet is designed to be used bedside, and comes with extras like storage pockets, a nightlight, soothing sounds, and a vibration feature.
Pros: See the HALO’s glorious walls of white mesh? That enables breathability, which is important for babies when they’re sleeping, as experts say overheating may put little ones at risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Two reasons it makes an ideal bedside bassinet: It’s impressively adjustable, so you can make the height level with your mattress, and you can tilt it towards you when it’s time to remove baby for a feed.
Cons: These curvy lines and tricked-out electronics don’t come cheap. In fact, the HALO costs almost as much as a regular crib.
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.
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.
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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