There are so many benefits to co-sleeping. Any mother who has been up and down a dozen (or more!) times at night with a fussy newborn can attest to the fact that it is much easier to have your baby at your side to comfort easily, rather than across the room, or even in a separate bedroom.
Besides the convenience for mama, there are other benefits, the most important of which is the fact that babies tend to sleep better when they are closer to you, especially in the early weeks and months.
Dr. William Sears, the well-known pediatrician and author/co-author of many books, including The Baby Sleep Book, lists 7 reasons and benefits of sleeping close to your baby:
Sleeping close to your baby is obviously beneficial and highly recommended by experts…but it is critical that it is done safely!
On the Arm’s Reach website, leading expert Dr. James McKenna has a great article on co-sleeping safely with an infant. I know I have always had concerns about sleeping with my baby actually in bed with me. The few times I have tried, (out of desperation on hard night with a newborn,) if I sleep at all, I do not sleep well, since I am worried about rolling onto or suffocated my precious bundle with blankets or pillows or something. Or even just bumping her as I move in my sleep and God-forbid, waking her up!
The Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper features all the safety precautions you could possibly imagine and fits every requirement listed by Drs. McKenna and Sears.
In preparation for my review of their Curved Mini Co-Sleeper, I talked to Jake from Arm’s Reach, and it was refreshing to hear how excited they are about their products and how dedicated they are to the safety of our babies, as well as our convenience!
What’s more, they are working hard to provide options suited for every household, accommodating your room size, decor style and price range!
Just a few of the available options!
Arm’s Reach’s co-sleepers easily convert into bassinets if and/or when you decide to move it away from your bed. I have used one of their Original Co-Sleepers with my girls and loved this feature.
After the first two months or so, when my girls were sleeping longer at night, and I was only needing to get up once, maybe twice, I could move the co-sleeper over to a nearby corner of our room, making it easier for me to access my bed again, (I have a very narrow spot between my side of the bed and my desk.)
I am thrilled to have the Curved Mini for this baby. The Mini is significantly smaller and is so much more suited to the way our bedroom is set up! Not only that, but the Mini is easier to travel with! When I go on our annual girls’ beach trip with my family later this year with my little one, it will be easy to fit this co-sleeper in the room with me, no matter how small the space is.
Setting up the Co-Sleeper is a simple process, and a quick look through the illustrated instructions gives you all you need to know to get started!
While we found it uncomplicated to set up, (the process is very straight-forward,) some steps are not easy. Getting the sides to snap up into place was pretty difficult, as well as getting them to snap down when you are collapsing the bed. I struggled with this step for a long time the first time, and then made John do it after that. It seems mostly to just require a lot of hand strength, and when I discussed this with Jake from Arm’s Reach, he explained that this feature is part of what keeps the bed completely safe.
This makes sense to me, and of course, I’m willing to put up with a bit of difficulty in set-up and take-down if it ensures my precious baby’s safety!
The Co-Sleeper comes in a zippered case and the mattress piece conveniently folds around the rest of the bed when packed away.
Snap the top bars up first, making sure they are rigid and firmly in place before locking the bottom bars
Sometimes you have to jerk them up quickly to get them to snap into position:
After all four top bars are locked into place, lock down the bottom bars. You can use or hands or your foot to do this. We found it was helpful to turn the bed completely upside down to get better leverage, since, as I mentioned, it is pretty difficult to get it to actually snap into its position.
Put the provided sheet on the mattress, lay it in, and voila! It is up!
It is important for safety reasons to have the crib at the perfect height next to your bed, so take a look at the measurements of the co-sleeper you choose, and then at the height of your bed.
After you add the enclosed feet and wheels, the mattress of the co-sleeper should be 4 inches below the top of your mattress.
There are two wheels for one end of the co-sleeper, and two feet for the other, making it easy to move it around the house as needed. There are brakes on the wheels that you should set once the co-sleeper is in place to keep it from rolling.
If you have a tall bed or mattress you may need to order their leg extension kit! In 2 inch increments, you can easily raise the co-sleeper up to 6 more inches with this kit.
You can add the wheels and other included feet onto the bottom of these extensions. The extensions should only be used when the co-sleeper is attached to an adult bed.
The final step in setting up your Arm’s Reach C0-Sleeper is to configure the strap attachment.
Simpler than it probably looks at first, you slide the straps under your adult bed mattress, fitting the large plastic square firmly against the opposite side of the bed.
Back over on the co-sleeper side, you snap the straps into the corresponding latch on the co-sleeper bed itself. The straps are adjustable and should be tightened until they are holding the co-sleeper firmly up against the adult mattress. This prevents any possibilities of a gap happening in between the two beds and rolling-out or dropped babies!
Here we have Katie’s baby doll, (currently answering to “Steven”) demonstrating the set-up and installed co-sleeper!
And here, we have the much more precious, hours-old Calvin, my nephew, showing it off. You can also see the super-soft “Nature’s Perfect” sheet that was sent along with the co-sleeper.
At the bottom, on the back of the co-sleeper, there is a zipper to allow you to conveniently store miscellaneous baby items in the lower level.
This is a great spot for diapers, clothes, extra sheets, and other essentials.
Your 3-year-old may also think it’s a great hiding spot, so beware.
When you are ready to move the crib away from your bed, the conversion process is simple.
It is important to make sure you remove any leg extensions when you detach the bassinet from the adult bed.
They are designed only to be used when the co-sleeper is supported by the bed and straps.
To raise the side bar, partially fold down that side by pressing the middle tabs and pushing down.
Then, 1.) pull the tab and lift as directed to detach it from its original plastic receiver on each side, 2.) unlatch the straps holding the extra fabric down, 3.) lift up the whole bar and slide the plastic connector into the upper plastic receiver, and 4.) tuck the loose straps into the special pockets provided on the side and close the velcro on the pockets, making quick and tidy work of your co-sleeper-to-bassinet transformation!
Learn more about safe co-sleeping and the wide variety of Arm’s Reach products at their very informative website!
Arm’s Reach Facebook fans can now enjoy a 20% discount, (expires May 2012!)
Arm’s Reach is generously giving one lucky Mama Chocolate reader their very own Curved Mini Co-Sleeper in the Toffee Hibiscus print!