Co-sleepers - worth the money?
April 25, 2014 4:28 PM   Subscribe

Considering getting a bedside co-sleeper for my baby. Parents who've used these, were they worth the money in your experience?

Baby Catseye is five weeks old, and has a little crib/cot like this in our room. She will sleep in it, but only reluctantly - for a few hours at most, after midnight, only if she's asleep deeply enough when we put her down, only if she's swaddled tight enough and the mattress is pre-warmed for her, only if the stars are aligned just right, etc etc. When she wakes for a feed or a change, it usually takes at least an hour of cuddles, rocking and sleeping on one of our chests before she'll settle back in her cot.

She'll sleep happily on our chests or laps, or lying next to us in our bed (when we're awake). She's breastfed and I usually feed her lying down for her late-night cluster feeding sessions, and she's happy drifting in and out of sleep lying next to me in a way that she just wouldn't be in her cot. I am pretty sure that if I felt safe having her sleep in our bed with us, we'd all be getting a lot more rest at night. But, I just don't feel safe with the idea (the bed's small, I'm a very thrashy and flaily sleeper). So we're stuck with the current arrangement, which seems needlessly stressful and exhausting for all concerned - she spends most of the day being held or carried, but at night we spend exhausting hours trying to get her to go against her instincts and sleep on her own, and worrying like mad ourselves in case we fall asleep in bed while holding her.

Therefore, the idea of a co-sleeper bedside crib. I know they claim to be the bests of both worlds: the advantages of bed-sharing, but with the baby still in its own space. Perfect! But I don't know how they feel from a baby's POV, and they're expensive things to buy or hire if they don't work any better than the cot she's already in.

So I turn to you, people who've used them before. Did your baby sleep well in one of these? If you got one after trying a standalone cot, did you find you got more rest and a less disturbed night with the co-sleeper? Would you recommend them? The one I'm thinking of is this because we could rent it for six months rather than buying outright, but your experience of any sleeper of this type would be appreciated.
posted by Catseye to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Is it possible to get one on Craigslist? You can't use them for very long anyway. I liked ours though.
Other options are sidecarring the crib (Google it) or using a pack n play.
posted by k8t at 4:31 PM on April 25, 2014

It was one of the two best things I had in terms of baby-care. I loved that thing. My daughter was very, VERY difficult to get to sleep, but the cosleeper sleep was the best sleep -- and even if she would only sleep in my arms, I could hold her on what would otherwise be the "outside" of the bed without worrying that I'd drop her. My son slept like a dream in the cosleeper from literally his fourth day of life until we realized at four months that he'd be happier in his own room.
posted by KathrynT at 4:41 PM on April 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you don't have space to sidecar a crib, have a look at DIY co-sleepers.
posted by travelwithcats at 4:48 PM on April 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

We used ours for 5 months or so very happily, till the little one got to really rolling around in it and we moved him to our bed. And we're planning on using it again with number 2.

I think it's worth it, but as with all baby gear, who knows how your baby will take to it. I'd ask around and see if anyone you know has one languishing in their attic (that's how I got mine : ), or try craigslist. Though if they dominate the market in Scotland like they do here, I think you're much more likely to get the practical, but hardly attractive, arms reach rather than the lovely one you link to.
posted by pennypiper at 4:55 PM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

We had the Arms Reach Cosleeper Mini, and I do not regret buying it at all, but at the same time I am not really sure it was worth the money. Like you, I breastfed and kept the baby in bed with us - because that's what got us the most sleep - so the cosleeper didn't really get used a lot. It mostly held his clothes. We did use it a bit more once he was maybe a couple of months old in order to have a safe place to set him (like while I used the bathroom, etc) and for occasional daytime naps.

The main advantage of a cosleeper crib over the kind of bassinet you currently have, I think, is that I could lean over and hold the baby's hand or put my hand on his back without getting up. That said, I ended up with a c-section so early on, even just trying to lift him in and out of the cosleeper was too hard/painful for me and he just stayed in the bed with us.

These (and/or these and/or these) are the guidelines for safe bedsharing - it doesn't mention thrashy/flaily sleeping being a problem, but you're obviously the best judge of that. Do you accidentally hit your partner in your sleep, and that's what's making you nervous for the baby? I found that even in my sleep, my body was aware of the baby's presence - is that not happening for you?

Right now, you're in what Ask Moxie calls the "by any means necessary" stage of infant sleep - you do what you can to get the most sleep for everybody. It kind of sounds like bedsharing may be the solution here, versus using a cosleeper crib, but take a look over the safe bedsharing guidelines and see if that eases your mind at all. And if not, do the cosleeper! You've got to do what works best for your family.
posted by meggan at 5:03 PM on April 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

I had my son in a Pack N Play bassinet for the first 2 months or so. We upgraded to an Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper I found on Craigslist until my son was 4 months old when we moved him into his crib in his own room. It really helped us.
posted by msladygrey at 5:04 PM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Our daughter also didn't want to sleep in a crib so for the longest time she slept next to our bed in a rock'n'play. It was the only place (other than my chest) she would sleep at all.

We used it like a "co-sleeper" in that I was able to wrap my arm around her while she slept, but she wasn't in the bed and couldn't roll out.

That was also nice because it folds up and could be moved into other rooms for naps, and taken with us on trips.
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:08 PM on April 25, 2014

My son is a little over 4 months and he just moved out of his Arm's Reach mini into a crib. It was great for me - no need to get up a zillion times. He slept in it as well as anywhere, which isn't saying much because he is a terrible sleeper, but it did make things way easier on me. It also allowed me to lay him next to me without putting him in the middle of the bed (because he couldn't roll out) which helped sometimes.

He is a tall baby and rolling now, and he has definitely outgrown it. He is also very sensitive to noises now and doing a bit better in his own space, but the cosleeper was absolutely a sanity saver for me. Can't imagine getting out of bed 6-8 times every night for months...
posted by Cygnet at 5:09 PM on April 25, 2014

I got the full size co-sleeper and my daughter refused to sleep in it anyhow. So no, it wasn't worth it, except that having it there made me less worried she would fall out of bed when I slept with her in bed with me (but I am a completely non-flaily sleeper and would wake up pretty stiff from sleeping with her because I wouldn't have shifted the entire time).

I think the mini-size co-sleeper is worth a shot, but especially if you can find one on Craigslist or eBay that's affordable. They generally can't be used very long. My daughter LOVED the Rock N Play, mentioned above, I got it on Craigslist for like $25 and that was worth every penny. And it's not really much harder to shift the baby out of in the middle of the night than the co-sleeper.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:19 PM on April 25, 2014

Yes, I used the sidecar cosleeper and it was awesome.
posted by bq at 5:26 PM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I loved my Arms Reach. My first son was ready to move out of it by 10 weeks or so, noise bothered him, but my second one would have slept in there forever. Either way you get maybe four months' use out of it, so it's expensive for the amount of use you get.

However. I lend mine out ALL THE TIME, because people only need it for, you know, four months tops! It's worth asking on your local friends on facebook (or wherever) if anyone has one you could borrow to see if it works with your fussy sleeper.

(Also if you get an Arms Reach mini, king-sized pillow cases fit the mattress pad perfectly ... those sheets are expensive and kinda annoying to get on and off. Pillow cases are perfect.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:55 PM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

We had the Arm's Reach Mini and I didn't love it. It was far enough below the level of our bed that getting the baby in and out multiple times per night was a real pain. When we would nurse at night, I had to stay fully awake so I'd be able to place him back inside when we were done, and hope that moving him didn't wake him up again.. I was much happier when we moved to a large mattress on the ground so that I could just sort of roll him towards me for nursing. (Yes, of course, you need to look into safe cosleeping practices if you go that route.)
posted by wyzewoman at 5:56 PM on April 25, 2014

I have the Arm's reach mini arc co sleeper. It's been nice being able just to look over and see when she's stirring so I can do the shush/pat thing to try to keep her asleep. I also picked up the Snuggleme pillow, as it took weeks before we could even get our baby to sleep in the cosleeper. She's a horrible sleeper still at 10 weeks, but I've been happy enough with the cosleeper.
posted by bizzyb at 5:58 PM on April 25, 2014

A quick note - if you do buy one new, check for different colors on Amazon. The brown one was about $30 cheaper than the cream one.
posted by bizzyb at 6:00 PM on April 25, 2014

We had the Arm's Reach mini cosleeper, and it was great. As somebody mentioned upthread it's nice being able to reach over and rub the baby's back/ hold her hand/ feel if she's breathing, all without getting out of bed. I will say that while the mini cosleeper positions the kid pretty perfectly w/r/t the elevation of the bed, it wasn't necessarily all that different from just having her sleep in the shallow bassinet attachment on top of the pack-n-play, which is what we did when she outgrew the Arm's Reach at ~3months. So if you've got a pack-n-play, that might be one cheaper alternative to consider.
posted by Bardolph at 6:13 PM on April 25, 2014

I got the full size co-sleeper and my daughter refused to sleep in it anyhow

This is exactly what happened with us.
posted by smoke at 6:19 PM on April 25, 2014

We bought one and were excited about it, but it actually didn't work with our bed! I would make sure that your bed is compatible with it -- i.e., the mattress has to be flush with the frame (you can't have a platform bed, or a mattress that doesn't fit the frame pretty tightly). We were bummed because it seemed that it would otherwise be great.

Also, you might want to keep trying the bassinet! Our month old refused to sleep anywhere other than our arms, and then one day, all of the sudden she was totally happy in this bassinet. It literally happened overnight. She sleeps in our room, but we actually find she goes down better at first if we put her down when we're not there -- I swear she can smell us and wants to be held otherwise.
posted by caoimhe at 6:34 PM on April 25, 2014

We did the cheap version. I basically took the side off a crib and bungee corded it tight up against our bed (underneath the mattresses obviously). It was ok for a bit. The good was that I wasn't worried about the kid rolling off the side of the bed or getting squashed between us. The bad was that he wanted to be so close to me that he never really slept in the sidecar.
posted by Cuke at 7:08 PM on April 25, 2014

Have you tried a swing? It worked miracles for us. Get one that plugs into the wall. Heaven...

I've also heard good things about the Rock N Play.

A cosleeper was a waste of money for us--it was how you're describing the crib. He was not fooled...
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:20 PM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just popping back to add that if you're primarily worried about bedsharing on safety grounds, a sleep nest like this might be another option that'd let your baby stay in bed with you while allaying any fears about rolling over on her. They seem to run quite a bit cheaper than cosleepers, too.

Also, baby gear (particularly baby sleep gear) holds its value relatively well in resale, so even if you can't buy stuff used, you can still probably count on recouping 40-60% of your outlay by Craigslisting or Ebaying it after you're done.
posted by Bardolph at 7:50 PM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

As far as I can tell from your description, Baby TEA is Baby Catseye. We loved our Arms Reach mini--it kept her safe and near while we were still swaddling her (a swaddled baby in the bed with us seemed unsafe) and until she seemed strong enough to be in the bed with us (she was very tiny). Yes, you'll still need to wake up a bit for nighttime feedings, but you won't have to get out of bed, stumble around, and wake yourself up even more. And, yes, you won't need the co-sleeper for many months, but it sounds like you really DO need it RIGHT NOW, when sleep is one of the most valuable commodities in your world.

Good luck!
posted by TEA at 8:15 PM on April 25, 2014

Loved the arms reach co sleeper. I think I had the full size one, and I bought it used on craigslist. They are pricey, so used is a good deal, and you can sell on again afterwards.
posted by Joh at 9:39 PM on April 25, 2014

We had the Arm's Reach co-sleeper and it was a waste of money for us. A pack n play with the bassinet attachment did basically the same thing for a fraction of the price. But all kids are different, and of course YMMV.
posted by gnutron at 4:43 AM on April 26, 2014

Have you tried having baby sleep in her carseat? Both of my daughters slept in theirs at night initially. I think they like the confined feeling as well as not being totally flat.

Consider giving it a try before you invest in more furniture.
posted by MadMadam at 6:04 AM on April 26, 2014

We are getting a delivery of a bednest on monday.
But it will be a few weeks before there is a baby to put in it.
I can report back on monday about build quality and so on, but that's probably it.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:36 PM on April 26, 2014

Response by poster: Update: shortly after asking this question, she started sleeping for 5+ hour chunks and waking only once a night, so I didn't buy the little co-sleeper.

And then a couple of months later, we hit the 4-month sleep regression early and argh. She was waking at least every hour or two, every night - I think the record was 16 times in a single night - and it was hideous. So after a few weeks of that we bought this full-size cot which is sidecarred to our bed now.

Huge success. The baby spends about half the night cuddled up to me and the other half sprawled out like a starfish in her own space. When she wakes up, I can feed her or comfort her without ever really waking up myself. She's still waking up fairly often most nights, but I am getting so much more sleep.

On reflection I'm glad we didn't buy the little co-sleeper - it would have been a lot of money for a few months of use, and it seems harder to create a flat continuous surface between the cot mattress and our mattress, which is the main advantage of the arrangement we've got now. But this one has been really worth the cost, especially because it'll also function as a normal cot for when we're ready to have her sleep in her own room.
posted by Catseye at 4:18 AM on August 13, 2014

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