Cot or Bassinet – and when to transition


There are so many decisions to be made when it comes to a new baby….how will we get him home from the hospital? Where will she sleep?

Perhaps you’re one of those people who has the nursery all painted and decked out and your idea of a perfect start is baby going straight into a cot in their own space close by. Perhaps you like the idea of having baby in the same room with you in the beginning or you live in a smaller space, therefore a bassinet may have more appeal.

A bassinet is definitely more compact than a cot and provides, some would argue, a cosier environment for baby to sleep in. There is also the mobility of a bassinet, since many come with wheels or handles, that add to their convenience. Whilst there are no current Australian standards for bassinets, some products do claim compliance with overseas standards or older Australian standards for rocking cradles.

Most bassinets will come with a recommendation for when it’s time to transition baby into a cot. Every baby is different and will grow at different rates. The Australian consumer advocacy group: Choice, recommends that once baby starts rolling over, or can pull themselves up via the sides it is time to transition them to a cot. Of course, many parents transition their babies long before this time, or begin baby sleeping in a cot straight away. Either of these approaches is perfectly fine.

Here at Sleep Love Grow, we are most interested in keeping baby’s ‘falling asleep environment’ simple and familiar, particularly from the three month mark and beyond. This is when, according to RedNose (formerly SIDS), a setting should be provided that isn’t dependent on another person. It may involve a snug wrap, a darkened room, the sound of a fan or other white noise and of course, the familiar smell/feel of their consistent sleeping space.

If you decide that a bassinet is for you, there are some things to watch out for as you are shopping around. Firstly, check the mattress. It should be firm and quite snug against the sides of the bassinet. There should be no gaps where baby’s arms or legs could become trapped. There should also be plenty of breathable area between baby and the sides to eliminate suffocation. If your bassinet comes with wheels, check there is a locking system for at least two wheels. The construction of the bassinet should feature permanently fixed parts that are difficult to budge when moved.

If you would like more information on what to look for in a bassinet, check out the Choice Bassinet Buying Guide or for safe sleep solutions see RedNose (SIDS).

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When baby hates cot and how you can help

Have a bub who is 6 months or older who hates his sleep space? Cries when you’re walking toward his cot? Cries when you try putting him in the cot?

If you know your baby is tired but he is not fond of going into his bed, try some Positive Sleep Space Association.

During his wake time, ensure the room looks completely different than sleep time (i.e. lights on or curtains open, perhaps play some up-beat music that you know he will enjoy), and place him in his sleep space with some toys and/or books. Stay in the room with him while he plays and encourage him by turning his interest to different things and providing some interaction (like peek-a-boo around the cot bars with a teddy). If he is hesitant to go into his sleep space initially during this time, try some “aeroplanes” over the sleep space or playing next to the sleep space as an initial step towards eventually playing IN the sleep space.

Children, even babies, need to be in and around their sleep space regularly for reasons other than sleep.

Once you begin doing Positive Sleep Space Association several times a day (only 5-10 minutes is required), you should begin to see a shift in his feelings about his sleep space. This practice helps an older baby “normalize” being in the sleep space, which can help him feel more settled before going to sleep and when he wakes.

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Daylight savings and sleep – what’s the deal?

So, it’s that time of year again – yay! Soon enough we’ll have to change our clocks, and this is where some things can become a bit of a struggle with a little one’s sleep. So, what to do?

Here’s some ideas for you to think about:

– Spring FORWARD, Fall (or Autumn in Australia!) BACK; in other words, make sure you’re putting your clocks forward in Spring and back in Autumn

– in Spring, you lose an hour, which can be easier to make up for than the other way around in Autumn, when you gain an extra hour

– think about what the new times for your child’s sleep will be once the clocks change; you can begin to make a slow change before the clocks turn or you can change afterward

– changes can be made in smaller increments of 5-10 minutes (with a baby of 6 months and under this will most certainly need to be the case), longer increments of 15-30 minutes (with a baby who is 6 months or older) or “cold turkey” as the clock shows (with an older toddler or child)

As we all know, we cannot force sleep. So, when the clock turns that magic number (old time) in the morning, most little people will be awake, unless you’ve transitioned beforehand.

As the clocks change, the sun’s times will change, too. This means that the amount of light coming into your child’s bedroom could potentially disrupt their ability to go to sleep or wake them earlier than expected in the morning. To help remedy this, you may decide to add a block-out blind or curtain.

The good news in all of this is that most little ones, whether they are teeny tiny or bigger, will adapt to the time changes within about a week if you take steps towards helping them do that.

Spring has sprung! Enjoy this beautiful weather and the longer-lit warm days.

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sleep crutches

sleep crutches – feeding, rocking, patting, singing and hand-holding to sleep

I meet so many families who think the first thing I will tell them is that they’ve made a big mistake getting their baby or child off to sleep by doing something intensive. Well, no. In fact, the first thing I say is this:

“parent-intensive sleep methods in the early days of a child’s life help build a positive foundation of emotional wellness on which to make slow and transitional changes with sleep if and when the family is ready to make those changes”

Being a parent is all about doing what feels right for you and your child. Helping your child off to sleep may be something that comes completely natural to you, and that’s great!

There may come a time that the method you’ve chosen when your child was younger no longer seems right. The way we parent evolves and changes, and this is certainly true of the way we choose to help our children get good sleep. There is a way of transitioning from what you are currently doing to where you want your “to-sleep-scenarios” being. Think of changing the method slowly, be patient and you’ll probably be surprised that you CAN actually help your child makes those changes with a bit of determination.

Yes, I am a sleep consultant, BUT I’m also a mum of young kiddies, a midwife and doula — I don’t have “rose-coloured glasses” about how sleep should, could or would be. I realise that sleep looks different in every single home. So, do what you think is right for you and your child and when that changes, start thinking about ways to make it look different. And if the time never comes when you feel a change is needed, then great! Keep on doing what you’re doing. And don’t forget to enjoy. 🙂

Happy transitioning!

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