When Pickle was born, we started bedsharing around 6 weeks or so – it was the only way she would sleep. I read up on all of the literature, and found ways to make it work safely. I’ve been a little nervous about doing it with the Peanut, though. I don’t know if he just seems littler, or what it is, but I’ve had anxiety about bedsharing. But, due to breastfeeding, I wanted to have him close to me at night, so I didn’t want to put him in his nursery in a crib yet. I wanted a safe, separate space where he could sleep that was close to the bed – because, let’s be honest. I’m lazy. I don’t want to get up out of bed fifteen times a night to nurse him, I want him to be close by.
Enter the Arm’s Reach mini co-sleeper (LINK). We received ours as a gift from family, but they currently run about $169. There is also a larger size, but I wanted the smaller one so that I could still easily get in and out of bed around it after my C-section.
The Arm’s Reach has two modes in which it can be used. It can be set up as a free-standing bassinet, totally separate from the bed. We’d used it that way for the first six weeks of Pickle’s life, and it worked well –but I still had to get up and out of bed to soothe or nurse her. I knew that I wasn’t really looking for that with Peanut, so we instead set it up in the co-sleeper mode. To use the co-sleeper mode, one of the sides of the sleeping area rolls down for easy access from your bed. In order to ensure that the baby does not roll out and into a gap between the co-sleeper and the bed, a tether is provided that you use to attach the co-sleeper closely to the bed – it goes between the top mattress and the box spring, and has a plate that you attach on the far side of the mattress. Thus, the co-sleeper is securely attached right beside you for easy access to the baby in the middle of the night.
At first, we had some issues with the height of the co-sleeper, as we have a tall bed. The co-sleeper was shorter than the bed – this made me paranoid that somehow a blanket or something would fall into the co-sleeper from the bed, since there was a drop down. I went to the Arm’s Reach website, and got some leg extenders (LINK) - they worked great. They raised the co-sleeper up to the appropriate height, and there’s no danger of anything falling into the baby’s sleeping area. I could hold Peanut’s hand or soothe him when he needed it without having to even stir from where I was sleeping.
He loves to prop his feet up on the side.
The sides of the co-sleeper are mesh, so they are breathable if the baby gets too close to them. There are also pockets on either end – these have been invaluable. Each night before bed, I load a bunch of diapers in there, as well as one of the smaller sized packs of diaper wipes, some diaper cream, a changing pad, and a peepee teepee (don’t judge, I have a pee-er). I don’t have to even get out of bed to do a diaper change, which really accommodates my middle-of-the-night laziness.
As the sides are fairly shallow, you want to change to another sleeping surface when the baby starts rolling. We found a crib that converts to a daybed, and have put that in a side-car setup attached to the bed so that Peanut still has a safe surface, but I can still nurse him with maximum ease. There was no difficulty of transition, since he was already used to a similar setup with the co-sleeper. This is a great short-term solution to facilitating easy sleeping arrangements with a newborn, I would strongly recommend it. There are now similar products on the market, and I’d imagine that they’d work similarly well.