Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Baby Cribs- Want or Need?

You've reached Penniless Parenting's Want vs Needs Wednesday where I dare to challenge the status quo. Society says you need so much, but do you really? One at a time we'll tackle the issues, figure out what we require for a happy life, and what is just extra niceties.
On the chopping block this week- Baby Cribs.

The baby was born. You're arriving home from the hospital come home from the hospital, and must have a crib or a bassinet immediately, as the baby needs a safe place to sleep that very first night home. Right?
Babies don't need cribs. Especially not their first night home from the hospital. There are many alternatives to both bassinets and cribs, and when one is tight on cash and living in a small home, cribs are both a waste of space and money. 
Cribs can't be a need, because they're relatively recent inventions. Humanity has survived for millennia without cribs; obviously they cannot be crucial to our survival as a race, and therefore cannot be classified as needs.
Babies also have died via strangulation and suffocation from both cribs and crib bumpers. There's a reason for so many recent crib recalls- cribs can be very dangerous! Something dangerous cannot be a requirement for survival; I'd sooner tell people that they need to find an alternative for cribs than say that cribs are a need.

Crib Alternatives

Softly Lined Container. When they're newborn, they aren't able to roll over; they don't need high sides. Just a drawer or a box or any other container lined with something soft, like a towel, will do.
Stroller. Even though strollers are not necessary if you have a homemade baby wrap, if you do end up buying one, you can easily use your stroller instead of a crib. 
Mattress. Babies only need tall railings around their mattress if they're high off the ground, or if you want to use it to trap your child in one place so you do not need to find a more normal disciplinary method. (This isn't saying that using a crib is evil, but rather, that using a crib for disciplinary reasons is foolish according to most parenting experts.) A baby can sleep perfectly fine on a mattress on the floor, and can be taught from a young age to go to sleep on the mattress and not get off and crawl around the room. The mattress can be pushed under other furniture or stood against the wall when not in use, giving you more floor space during the day.
Folded Blanket. Instead of a mattress, your baby can sleep on the floor on a folded up blanket

Co-Sleeping:: Benefits and Safety.

The best alternative to a crib, in my opinion, is co-sleeping. Its how we were designed- babies right next to mommy all night long. Its practiced throughout the world, especially in all traditional cultures. By co-sleeping, you entirely eliminate the need for a crib (which is why I've packed mine up and given it away since moving), and have many, many other benefits.

Co-sleeping Benefits:
More Sleep. Not needing to get up, walk to the crib (whether in the same room or different), and bring the baby to you for a feeding, staying awake while feeding, putting the baby back to sleep (wow, I'm tired just by reading this!) saves you many precious hours of sleep time. With your babe in your bed, you roll over, latch the baby on (and when older, the baby can do it on its own) and drift back off. I can't tell you how many times a night I do this, because, quite frankly, I'm not fully waking up to feed the baby. Compare that to sleep deprived mothers who druggedly, stagger to the nursery, feed the baby while rocking in a glider, struggling to keep awake for the feeding, put the baby back in the crib, then return to sleep. I vastly prefer my arrangement.
More Nursing. Co-sleeping promotes a good nursing relationship. Face it, its easier to nurse a baby at night than it is to prepare a bottle at 2 am. And easiest of all to nurse the baby when he is sleeping in your bed.
Natural Child Spacing. Co-sleeping and nursing at night causes a delay in the return of fertility. This is much cheaper and healthier than all other forms of birth control. And its got a pretty good success rate. This worked for me- my kids are naturally spaced exactly 2 years apart, just using the Lactation Amenorrhea Method.
More Security. Babies learning that Mom is there for them whenever they cry for her, instead of learning that mom will ignore their cries if it inconveniences them, is a sure way to make babies (and later kids) more secure and emotionally healthy people.
More Safety. In case of a fire or other emergency, baby is right near mom, who can quickly take him to safety.
More Life. Co-sleeping decreases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Studies and statistics here
Read here to learn about even more benefits of co-sleeping.

Co-Sleeping Safety

Concerned about the safety of co-sleeping because of the risks of suffocation? So long as you meet the following requirements, co-sleeping is safer than putting your baby to sleep in a crib.
  • Put the baby between mom and a wall or a baby safe guardrail.
  • Don't smoke, do drugs, or get drunk. These all make co-sleeping unsafe, but you shouldn't be doing them anyhow if you're thrifty, because they're quite unfrugal in addition to being unsafe in general.
  • Don't co-sleep if you're on sedatives or drowsiness causing medications, as they lower your awareness of your baby's position in your bed.
  • Make sure there's nothing nearby to suffocate or strangle your baby, like heavy blankets, pillows, or long hair.
  • Only co-sleep on a real bed, not on a bean bag chair, water bed, or couch.
  • Make sure there are no crevices where the baby can fall in. 
Read more about safe co-sleeping

Do you think a crib is a necessity? Why or why not? Where do your babies sleep at night? What are your thoughts on co-sleeping? 


  1. Since trying to get my almost 2 year old to sleep in his new big boy bed I've begun to ask myself if cribs were really necessary. For the first 6 months of my sons life his either slept next to me in a bassinet or in bed with me and my husband. He was fine in a big bed at that age, so why did i decide to put him in a crib? I could kick myself for letting societally norms sway me to use the traditional baby bed and not taking time to really think if it's necessary. I'm convinced that if we would have started with the big boy bed instead of using a crib we wouldn't be having issues with him sleeping all night. When we have baby #2 I opting out of using a crib and going strait to a bed. Happy to see that i'm not alone in my thinking.

  2. We co-sleep with our six month old son. He is safe and happy. His dad is totally supportive, confessing that long work days make him feel he's missing out so having the night together makes him happy. As far as marital relations, the bed is not the only acceptable place in the home. We love our decision to co-sleep.


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