How To Side-Car Your Crib
One of the big issues facing new parents is the one of baby sleep — namely, the where of baby sleep. Bedsharing can be daunting, but putting baby alone in a room at the end of a hallway (or on another floor, in some cases) doesn’t always sit well with new parents who know that night feedings are a part of everyone’s life for at least the first few months. A lot of new parents put a portable crib in their bedroom, or they opt for a dedicated co-sleeper. Both of these options could be the solution you’re looking for, but keep in mind that baby will outgrow them sooner rather than later, and once they do — that’s the end of the life of that product.
Our solution was to buy a crib from IKEA (one with a toddler bed conversion, even though that part won’t ever get used by us) and construct is as if it were a co-sleeper. Commonly called “side-carring,” this was perfect for our situation.
I will just say right now that one of my hot-button things to freak out about as a new parents was SIDS, and I heard over and over from my doctors that (while SIDS is rare) having the baby in the room with parents or siblings for the first months of life helps the baby learn to regulate their breathing and has been shown to prevent SIDS. Our toddler happily sleeps in his “Big Boy Bed” in his own room now, but for the first year, he happily slept in the crib that was attached to our bed. When it was cold, he would burrow up next to me and we would snooze quite contentedly for hours and hours. (The bonus there is that we live in a drafty old house and he’s a little heater. Warm Mommy!)
So, what you’ll need to make this work for you is:
A) A bed with a frame. (Ours is a standard queen sized bed and it works perfectly.)
B) A crib, minus one long side.
C) Hardware for assembling said crib. Life Tip: invest in an electric screwdriver and allen wrench bits. If you’ve ever assembled anything from IKEA, you will either already know to do this or you’ll be smacking your forehead wondering what took you so long to do this. A ratcheting screwdriver is an acceptable alternative (and good for helpers.)
D) Bungees for securing the crib to the bed frame, also acceptable: rope, zip ties, etc. You just want to keep the frames from shifting away from each other so whichever method you choose should be as secure as possible.
E) Pool noodle(s) for filling the gap between mattresses.
And now you’re ready.
Step One: Assemble crib according to the instructions. Leave the 4th side off – it will remind you of a study carrel found in libraries. Make sure the sides are securely attached to each other and the mattress base and your crib will be sturdy.
Step Two: Use the bungees to attach the crib frame to the bed frame. You will need a helper for this one, especially if you’re as pregnant as I am (38 weeks as I type.) You will likely need to shift the bed mattress out of the way for easiest access.
Step Three: Replace bed mattress, situate crib mattress. Add pool noodles.
Step Four: Add mattress protectors, linens, etc as you see fit. I added a towel because I know that the cats are going to claim the crib and we’ll have time to put clean sheets on it before it’s put to use by a human.
And that’s it. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. You’ll have your child in arm’s reach for as long as it works for both of you. If you find that it’s not working for your family at whatever point, it’s a piece of cake to detach the bungees and add the 4th rail. Or take it apart completely and have a floor bed. Or whatever transition you feel works best. Pleasant dreams!
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