Just like with clothes, it’s possible to spend as much as buying a small car on a cot for your baby. However the minimum requirement is a cardboard box, large rectangular basket, or drawer lined with a few blankets. Yes, Dear Reader, I did say a box, basket or drawer. Any sturdy rectangular object will do, which tells us that in actual fact, you can spend as little as you like on this. What is important is that the baby is laid on his or her back, and that you are careful to avoid having lots of sheets and blankets around the face that risk potentially smothering the baby. No doubt you will be given a leaflet at some point about the ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign to reduce cot deaths, and also advised to make up your baby’s bed so he or she sleeps with feet right at the bottom and head half way up, with the bedding arranged accordingly. This makes sound sense and is advice worth following. For the first 4-6 months it is also advisable to have your baby sleep in the room with you, as this also reduces cot deaths.
If you want to buy something for your baby to sleep in, then a Moses basket is the cheapest option, followed by a basic standard sized cot. You will need six sheets and three cellular blankets to make up the Moses basket or cot. Pillows and quilts are not recommended for babies under the age of one in the UK, although in very cold countries the warm eiderdown is going to be the only practical option if you ever want to take your baby out in the pram. As with anything, keep an eye on your baby and make sure he/she doesn’t overheat or get smothered by bedding.
World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines suggest that sleeping with your baby can be useful and safe when breastfeeding, as long as parents are sober, not overtired, not smokers and the baby sleeps in the crook of the mother’s arm, well away from bedding and pillows that might cause him or her to overheat or become smothered. For further information about the WHO guidance, please speak to your midwife or health visitor. From my own point of view, I found I got a lot more rest by dozing with my babies in the crook of my arm, and breastfeeding worked better this way, so it’s something I think all mothers should take advice on and think about. There is no more wonderful surprise than when your slightly older baby manages to breastfeed him or herself while you are sleeping, which has happened to me a couple of times, to my relief and amazement. Babies are intelligent little things.