What Should a Newborn Sleep In?

One of the first questions you have to answer after you give birth is: Where should baby sleep? A bassinet? Crib? Cosleeper? Your bed?

It’s a decision that deserves some serious thought because it will affect your sleep, your baby’s sleep, and your baby’s safety.

Hands down, having your baby in your room is the best place for a newborn to sleep! It’s cozier and much more convenient. You can easily hear when your baby spits up, has breathing trouble, or is uncomfortable in any way. And, as a total bonus: Parents sleeping nearby reduces a baby's SIDS risk. The current recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is to keep your swaddled baby right by your bed, in a bassinet, crib or cosleeper for the first 6 months of life.

What Should a Newborn Sleep In? The Specifics

Make sure your baby’s sleeping spot has a wide base (so it’s not easy to knock over). It should also have a firm mattress with a snug fit and sides should be at least 15 inches high (measured from the mattress base). If you choose a crib, make sure the crib is safe and properly assembled. (For guidance, visit the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website.)

The Best Place for a Newborn to Sleep

Happiest Baby is proud to have created the super safe SNOO Smart Sleeper. Unlike other baby beds, it has a unique swaddle which attaches to the bed and keeps babies safely sleeping on their back all night. In fact, this safety innovation earned SNOO the FDA's De Novo Authorization(For important safety information visit happiestbaby.com/fda.) Plus, SNOO calms crying and boosts sleep (often 1 to 2+ hours) with womb-like sounds and motion.

Around 5 or 6 months, many couples move their babies into a crib in another room. Babies tolerate the switch pretty easily at that age, although it’s fine to wait longer. (Learn more about when to move your baby to their own room.)

Where Should a Newborn Sleep? Locations to Avoid 

Certain sleep spots pose serious risks for babies. Sleeping on living room furniture, sleeping sitting upright (for instance, in a car seat or infant carrier), sleeping in an inclined sleeper, using a sleep positioner, and sleeping in poorly designed slings are all unsafe.

The Risks of Different Baby Sleeping Options

Furniture: Studies from all around the world agree: Sleeping on living room furniture is a huge risk! Scottish researchers found the risk of SIDS is 67 times higher among babies who were allowed to sleep on a couch. The risk is also high for babies sleeping on recliners, armchairs, cushions, beanbag chairs, and air mattresses.

Car Seats: The car seat is another unsafe place for your baby to snooze, with the exception of the little naps they take on short car trips. During the first 6 months of life, a baby’s heavy head can fall forward when she is seated, causing difficulty breathing and asphyxiation.

Slings: And how about slings? Slings are terrific. They offer a delicious flow of touch, movement and sound, along with the continuous reassurance of your scent. On top of that, they leave your hands free for other jobs. These simple folds of cloth are so helpful to new moms; I suspect they may have been one of the first bits of clothing ever invented.

However, babies frequently fall asleep in their cozy slings, and there are a few things to know to keep your baby safe. Make sure your sling:

  • Is not too deep. If your baby can sink into a little “C” position at the bottom, she is at risk for suffocation from a lack of fresh air. (Your baby should be sitting high enough so you can see her face.)
  • Supports your baby’s back so her chin doesn’t fall forward and get pushed down against her chest, making it hard to breathe or cry for help.
  • Holds your little one snug enough to prevent her from falling.
  • Has no fabric folds that can press against her nose or mouth.

And one more sling rule: Never carry your baby in a sling when you’re handling very hot food or liquids.

Swings: What about sleeping in the swing? Most swings are not safe because they keep a baby on an incline, which can cause their head to slump forward and restrict breathing. While SNOO is a bed, it can also be used as a swing, and a safe one for your infant to sleep in because it is entirely flat. Its calming motion lulls babies to sleep faster and keeps them asleep longer.

Final Thoughts: What Should a Newborn Sleep in?

While you have several options for where your baby can sleep, not all of them are safe, so keep this in mind as you choose what's best for your family. If you’d like to learn more about SNOO, and why it’s the best option for your baby to sleep in, then click here to discover all of the features of the smart bassinet.

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.