Ditch the Nursery: 4 Alternatives for More Bonded Sleep.

As we become parents we are bombarded by the idea that we need so many things for our new baby. Like many other things, having a baby has become a profitable industry for some people. And why wouldn’t it? With hundreds of babies being born every day, these companies have a guaranteed clientele base. But in my usual fashion, I am going to lay down a little truthpaste:

The vast majority of marketed baby items are a waste of your money, at best, and create a lifelong disconnection between you and your child, at worst.

Then you have everything in between that these products can do, such as undermining the innate intelligence of children and even hindering their optimal, physical human development. I could honestly devote an entire blog post to useless, overbought baby items, but in this article, I am only addressing one:

The crib.

Ok, let me back up. The crib might not be totally useless if you already have one, but I will get to that soon…

Many of us were sold on the notion that babies need to learn to sleep by themselves (because that’s what we have to do as adults, right? Not…). To be bold again, that is simply a harmful lie. Human contact and connection is imperative and it is especially imperative for babies because they are born with a biological need for attachment. This innate drive of theirs does not go away at night. In fact, feeling attached and secure is crucial at night because for a young infant or toddler, being alone in the darkness is very terrifying. Heck, being alone in the darkness is scary even for me. At this age, they cannot formulate the concept that their caregiver is in the other room. Biologically speaking, they are expecting their mother’s body. If it isn’t there for a long period of time in the beginning stages of life, they sense abandonment and respond to it as such. Only when and if their need for attachment is met early on can they develop and trust you will return later once they are older. You cannot enforce independence onto a baby. Independece can only happen naturally once the human has been made to feel secure in their attachment, and therefore feels safe to venture into independence. If it is forced before they are ready, they will try to get the need met in other ways that often feel inconvenient and stressful to the parent. Forced independence can also be in-part to blame for much of the adult co-dependence and relationship dysfunctions we see today. This is actually adults still fighting for their need of attachment. For a more detailed outline on the benefits of co-sleeping, check out another blog post I wrote titled, “5 Reasons Why I am Not A Crunchy Mom.” 

People often hear the term, “co-sleeping,” and assume it is dangerous. James J. McKenna, PhD describes co-sleeping as:

“-any situation in which a committed adult caregiver, usually the mother, sleeps within close enough proximity to her infant so that each, the mother and infant, can respond to each other’s sensory signals and cues. Room sharing is a form of cosleeping, always considered safe and always considered protective. But it is not the room itself that it is protective. It is what goes on between the mother (or father) and the infant that is. ” 

While I highly promote body contact, the utmost important thing here is responding to your baby, and being in close proximity makes it easier for you to do that. If you have a child on the way or you already have a baby and you are understanding the importance of bonded infant sleep, here are four alternatives to putting your baby in a crib in the nursery.

  1. A mattress or comfortable mattress topper on the floor in your bedroom.

If you are one of those people who doesn’t feel quite comfortable sleeping with your baby then this is one of your best options, in my opinion. Aside from sleeping apart from your baby, the crib itself has some downfalls, and this setup offers to remedy those. According to the Montessori philosophy, a crib is a limitation to a baby’s natural mobility and stifles independence. Having a floor bed is a safe way to allow babies to move around and explore their world. If you fear your child will fall off the mattress while sleeping, you can simply line the floor with pillows or cushions. We used a mattress topper so our son couldn’t fall. The bigger the bed space, the better.

2. Side-car the crib or a bassinet next to the bed.

Sidecar by www.amandamedlin.com

This is a good option if you already have a crib and or a designated sleeping contraption such as a bassinet for your baby. Most cribs will allow you to remove the side and then you can push the opened area up against the side of your bed. This option makes baby easily accessible and allows you to respond to her cries and other cues promptly.

3. Hammocks.

IG @Kadihill for island birthing, sleeping, and living.

A friend of mine had her baby in a small village in Panama where everyone sleeps in hammocks. Even when she came back to the states she slept in a hammock with her daughter. In many villages and cultures, it is not uncommon for babies to be raised sleeping in hammocks with their mothers into toddlerhood . The natural, steady sway provides a sense of ease and comfort. I get the not everyone is comfortable with sleeping so close to their baby, so you be your own judge on that. I personally am not going to suggest babies sleeping in hammocks alone until they are a little older. If it were me I would have him sleep on my chest since I am 100% confident in sleeping skin to skin. For your older babies, toddlers and kids, I cannot say enough about Lunalay Baby Hammocks . From the material to the design I have found they are perfect for napping your baby and a gentle way to fall asleep.



4. Bedsharing.

Room I nested for baby and me when I was pregnant. No crib required.

Yes, bedsharing is an excellent option if done safely. It is they way I have slept with my 2.5-year-old since the day he was born, and I never even had a crib. I am a light sleeper and even more so after I had my son, since becoming a mother naturally made me more vigilant towards my child. My suggestion would be to get a big floor bed to give yourself enough space from baby if you fear sleeping too close. Avoid big pillows and blankets around newborns, and do not sleep with babies if you are under the influence of any kind. Some people opt to put one of [these] to-go, portable infant beds next to them if you wish to create a solid barrier between you and baby, but it is not required for safe bedsharing.

Just remember that you can’t spoil a baby. As humans, our drive for contact is lifelong, and one can never have too much love, touch or connection. This is especially true for babies. Terence McKenna has said, “Culture is not your friend. Culture is for other people’s convenience and the convenience of various institutions.”

I think the invention of the crib and the whole nursery epidemic falls into this category. It was sold to parents as a convenient tool for baby sleep. In reality, separated sleep doesn’t serve the basic human need for attachment, it only serves those who profit off of new parents who think they are doing their best. Simply look to nature if you have any questions about infant/mother sleep. You won’t see murals or cribs or monekys sleeping away from their mothers.

I’m curious how you co-sleep? Do you do any of the things I mentioned or something completely different? I would love to hear other ideas!


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  1. Really interesting read. I bedshare with our nine month old daughter and have done since birth. For a few months we used a bedside crib, when she would allow us to put her down (!) However once she outgrew it she moved into the bed with me. We don’t use any blankets or pillows around her and I breastfeed her on demand throughout the night. My Husband is currently in a different bedroom due to the hours he has to work, but this isn’t a problem and our current set up works just fine. If I could talk to my pregnant self I would tell her not to buy a cot or a pushchair! The cot is used for storage and 99% of the time we carry our little one in a sling.

  2. Hi, this is very inciteful article and I wanted to know more of the items that you think are a useless, overbought items for babies? I am 5 months pregnant and havent bought one single item for my baby, and would love more information on what I dont necessarily need to purchase for my baby. Thank you in advance 🙂

  3. Thank you, you confirm what I was feel also myself. We was use BabyBay as my best friend experienced with her 3 children adviced me. And I could observe motherhood behavior also in Kenya, they mostly use a big towel as a hammag for daysleep of the child if they don’t carry them. No other child utensils and never a separate bed or room. I was lucky to get birth in a good hospital. They had that small rolling cubes for the newborns safety as they carry them in that and not in the hand. But they gave me for bonding and had many good advices. My son did not wanted to sleep without me from the beginning, so the nurse built next to me a nest with a nursing pillow on the side and we was sleep like that. At home the BabyBay was perfect. We slept on the same Hight and he could touch me any time, even brestfeeded that way, we had not even one sleepless night. It was less stress for all of us and I could check on him any time. I was also never worried. He was a peacefull baby and developed great. Daytime we carried him a lot, in a towel or later in Ergobaby Carrier, that was also easiest way for traveling without Babycar. Until today my son is still comes to me for hug and a very peaceful boy.