For the first 6 months of life, it is recommended that your newborn baby should sleep in the same room as you. It presents a lot of benefits, from stable physiology to preventing sudden infant death syndrome and long-term emotional health. However, being in the same room as you do not mean being in the same bed. Sleeping in the same bed as your infant is potentially dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. So what is your best option?
You cannot place a whole crib in your bedroom. Might as well occupy the entire space. Your alternatives are a bassinet or a cradle. My guess is that you, like most people, will go for a cradle. It’s a cheaper alternative. After all, you don’t need to go spending serious money on something that you’ll only use for about 5 or 6 months. I am not saying that you should go for the cheapest products either. Cheap usually means bad quality, so make sure to find a balance.
The benefits of a cradle
A cradle can have a lot of advantages, for the baby, as well as for you. That is what parents are usually after. The more benefits, the better. As long as your life gets a bit easier, the cradle is worth every penny.
- It’s smaller than a crib, which will give you more space in the bedroom. As you well know a crib is huge, and placing it in the bedroom would be a significant inconvenience. But a cradle is smaller and would fit better in the room. You can even put it next to the bed.
- It’s portable. You can move it easier around the house. Also, you can put it next to your bed during the night, and you can push it aside during the day. There are models that come with wheels, so you don’t even have to lift them up. You can move it to another room if you want. You cannot do that with a crib.
- You can rock your baby. That’s the very definition of a cradle if you think about it. It will help you soothe the baby easier by gently pushing it. Your infant will go back to sleep faster without you having to take him/her in your arms. Not to mention that whenever the baby moves while awake, the cradle will move too. It’s a fun activity for him/her. Your child will enjoy the swinging experience.
- It’s cozy and comfortable. The baby will have a hard time getting used to the surrounding environment after leaving the mother’s womb. For some reason, infants prefer smaller spaces in the very few months of life. A cradle will provide exactly that. It’s not too small that won’t fit a 5-month-old infant, but not too big that there is too much space around him/her. It’s just perfect and will accomplish its purpose of providing a cozy and comfortable space. Your baby will love it.
As you can see, there are a lot of benefits to choosing a cradle over a crib in the first months of life. It will provide a safe space for your child and will help you as well. There is a win for everybody.
How to choose the best cradle
Fortunately, you have a lot of options when it comes to cradles, and baby furniture in general. If you looked 20 years ago, maybe there would have been fewer choices, and your job would have been a lot easier. You wouldn’t have to look online for a cradle-buying guide. But nowadays, making a decision is tough. That is why I put together a few criteria that a cradle should meet in order to be considered the best choice possible.
- Should the cradle barrier be flexible or static? That is a question to which only you have the answer. It depends on your preferences. The flexible barrier is the one that can get pulled down and then back up. You can resize it or take it out completely (with certain models). A static barrier stays where it is at all times. You should make the choice that makes you feel comfortable. And don’t forget about your baby’s safety. At some point, it will be an issue.
- Adjustment control is another concerning issue. You should purchase a cradle with an adjustable deck. There are levels of height you can choose from, but remember the thickness of the mattress as well. It usually has somewhere between 10 and 15 cm (4-6 inches). So the more you lift the deck, the more dangerous it can become. A newborn can be placed at the highest level, but as the baby grows you have to lower the deck. This feature is only meant to help you. You will be picking your child up a lot easier if he or she is placed higher.
- Wheels or no wheels? This again is something you should decide. It’s about portability. If you plan on moving the cradle from one room to another, then a set of wheels will prove to be extremely useful. But even if you don’t, it’s easier to push a cradle aside than to lift it up and move it around the room. A lot of people use the cradle in the living room during the day.
- Always choose a swinging cradle. As I said before, the very definition of a cradle is a crib that swings. It will help you put the baby to sleep. Rocking your child in your arms can become tiring, especially in case of sickness when you have to do it for hours. But if the cradle rocks you can just gently push it, and it will swing. Your baby will be happy, and your job will be easier. Win-win!
- Safety always comes first. Look for a cradle that looks sturdy and is made with high-quality wood (or other materials). If it has bars ensure that they are not too close together or too far apart (your baby can get his/her leg stuck between them). The barrier should not be too low, or your child can climb out of it in a few months. Or at least he or she will try but will fall over.
What are the best cradles?
In case you have a tough time making a choice, here are three which I consider to be the best cradles. They have all the necessary features that will satisfy your needs.
Sorelle Dondola Cradle
This cradle is what I consider to be a classy piece of furniture. It is made of New Zeeland pine and has a design that is absolutely fantastic. Everything about this cradle screams elegance and good taste.
The Sorelle Dondola comes with a mattress and a fitted sheet that is machine washable. If you like the mattress, you don’t have to go around and look for a mattress that fits. This is a common issue with cradles and cribs. It doesn’t come assembled, but it is very easy to put it together. You don’t need special tools to do it, but you may need some help. You can turn its assembly into a fun activity with your partner.
Portability is not an issue with Sorelle. It comes with a set of wheels. As you may have probably guessed, it’s pretty heavy because it is made of hardwood. But the wheels are resilient and will help you move the cradle around the room or from one room to another. The manufacturer hasn’t forgotten about safety, though. Two of the wheels have brakes for more stability.
Swinging your baby in this cradle is easy. It has a rocking mechanism that doesn’t require too much effort pushing it. But if you want the cradle to be static, there is an attachment you can use to lock the system. Although leaving it in gliding mode will make it more enjoyable for your child.
As all baby furniture from Sorelle, the Dondola meets and exceeds all U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission safety standards. However, there is one aspect that does not satisfy all customers. Apparently, the mattress isn’t what you would hope for. Despite the beauty of the cradle, the mattress is too thin, which is why most customers advise you to buy a new mattress. But overall, the Sorelle Dondola is worth every penny.
BabyBjorn has a very long history of manufacturing baby products. They’ve become very good at it over the years, which is why I recommend this cradle. It has a beautiful design that will catch the eye of any new parent. It’s very light, you can carry it around the house in your arms with ease. I think this is a very helpful feature. Most cradles are heavy, but this one you can carry as if it were a laundry basket. You can place it anywhere to supervise your baby in whichever room you find yourself in.
The height is low, and the mesh around it is transparent for better supervision of your baby. Personally, I love the transparent mesh. It provides breathability, but what I like the most is that there are no bars or loose parts. That means it cannot trap tiny hands and feet. Moreover, the sides are soft, so if your baby starts to roll over, he or she will not hit a hard surface.
You can also rock your baby in this cradle. It will provide gentle, relaxing movements that will put your infant to sleep faster. Besides, it will spare your hands from doing all the heavy lifting. If you put the cradle by the bed, you can push it gently whenever the baby is fussy during the night. It will spare you from getting up and picking the baby in your arms.
The manufacturer advises you to use only BabyBjorn fitted sheets for this cradle. Other brands have not been tested with the cradle and may prove to be unsafe. It’s true that they are a bit expensive, but this is your child after all. Safety should always come first. Both mattress and sheet are removable and machine washable, but it is recommended that you let them air-dry.
Dream On Me Rocking Cradle
This cradle is a more affordable alternative to the other two. Not anyone can afford to spend a few hundred of dollars on a cradle that will only be used for 6 months. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good product because it is. Its simple design is pleasant, the finish is non-toxic, and it has almost as many features as the previous two products.
It has arched footboards, which means you can rock your baby to sleep. The cradle will also swing whenever the baby moves. It appears that is a fun activity for infants. However, you can make it stationary by using a support pin you can find on one side of the cradle.
The cradle comes with a sleeping pad, but I believe you will agree with me when I say that it needs changing. I believe it’s too thin, but if you like it, you can keep it. The recommended maximum weight is 20 lbs, but you should use the cradle until you see that the baby starts to roll from side to side or push up.
It was a tough choice, but I will always be a sucker for Sorelle baby furniture. These people know their stuff. That is why I believe that Sorelle Dondola is the best cradle someone can hope for. Honestly, I would have expected it to be more expensive, but it seems that it’s quite affordable. Its elegance is a selling point for me.
I believe that baby furniture is essential for the child’s start in life. You need to provide a safe and comfortable environment for your baby, especially in the early months. After all, a cradle, crib, bassinet, or whatever, is the place where your baby will spend most of the time. Quality and comfort are crucial, which is why you should invest in the best cradle you can find.