Sidecar Your Crib: A Co-Sleeping Solution

by | June 25, 2018

A co-sleeping solution that might work for you

If your family is happy and safe with baby in your bed, go for it! But if you question having baby in bed with you, if you want baby close to you but wish you had a little space to yourself, to roll around when you need to, to get up to pee without waking baby, to snuggle your partner, or to pull those blankets right up to your chin, here’s a co-sleeping solution that worked wonderfully for my family: sidecar your crib.

Sidecar your crib? What’s that mean?

Baby sleeps in the same room as you, in a crib pushed right up to your bed. You take one side off the crib, so your bed is open to the crib.

What are the advantages of a sidecarred crib?

Baby will be right there with you, even if you can’t safely have them in bed with you (due to a medication you’re taking, for instance), your bed isn’t big enough for the whole family, or if bed-sharing just doesn’t feel right for you. You’ll be able to reach right over (to comfort, nurse, or change a diaper) and bring baby in bed with you when you choose to, but you’ll also be able to, without getting up, set baby on their own separate sleep surface, so you can then move around without waking your baby. You can even nurse your baby to sleep right where the mattresses meet, so when they sleepily unlatch, they’ll roll asleep onto their back on their crib mattress, and you can sleep right next to them on your mattress (or get up and have some grown-up time if you want, though, at the beginning, you’ll probably want to listen to everyone’s advice to “sleep while the baby’s sleeping.”) Your kid will be able to stay in this co-sleeping solution set-up for as long as feels right to you or will be well set up to move to their own room if/when your family decides.


READ MORE: SHOULD WE REALLY CO-SLEEP?

RELATED: WHEN DO BABIES SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT? 


How do I sidecar my crib?

Some people recommend getting bungee cords to attach the crib to your bed, but we didn’t find the need for anything like that. Everything was quite stable, using nothing but our mattress, our box spring, and a convertible crib with a crib mattress. We just assembled our crib with one long side missing, then moved the crib all the way against the wall, with the open side opening up right to our bed. We adjusted the height of the crib mattress to line up perfectly with the top of our mattress (you can experiment with including/excluding your own bed frame/box spring to get the heights just right). We didn’t have a gap between the mattresses, but if you do, you can squeeze a pool noodle in there to close the gap. We also opted to put a toddler rail (our convertible crib came with it) at the foot end of the crib’s open side; this left a smaller gap, so as our baby started rolling/crawling, there was only one opening for her to leave the crib and come to our bed.

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Nursing my baby in bed, next to the opening to our sidecarred crib

Should I buy an Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper?

We opted to sidecar our crib as a co-sleeping solution, rather than buying an Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper for a few reasons. Specialty items made just for bedside babies are generally small, so they serve their purpose for a while, but then they’re just one more expensive baby item to pass on. Cribs, on the other hand, works just like co-sleepers, but your child will continue to fit in them for much longer. This allows you to keep up the sidecar co-sleeping situation longer. Or, when you’re ready, you can transition your child into their own room, using the familiarity of the bed they’ve slept in all along. For us, this made for a very easy transition. My almost-4-year-old still sleeps in the same convertible crib that she slept in as an infant.


READ MORE: THE EXHAUSTED PARENTS GUIDE ON GETTING A BABY TO SLEEP 

RELATED: WHAT IS JUNK SLEEP? 


How do you transition from a sidecarred crib to their own room?

We chose to go right from sidecarred crib to toddler bed (meaning leaving the 4th side off of the crib and attaching the toddler rail attachment) when she was 21 months old, but you would also have the option to go from sidecarred crib to regular 4-sided crib. Either way, your little one can keep the familiarity of the bed they’ve had their whole life. We had the forethought to get a convertible crib that came with a matching toddler rail, but toddler rails can also be purchased separately.


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I’m freaking out. I’m so tired! Am I doing this right?

I do want to emphasize that, in the beginning, you will probably try out lots of different sleeping arrangements. If you’re being safe and your baby’s needs are met, there’s no shame in any sleeping arrangement. Maybe you need a room for yourself sometimes to just get some sleep. Maybe you can only sleep if the baby’s right there with you. You might kick your partner out of bed to spread out with the baby. Maybe you enlist a friend to sleep with your baby while you try to nap. The beginning, being so sleep-deprived, can be so tough. I offer this “co-sleeping solution” just as one more thing to try, something that worked very well for our family. Good luck—you’ve got this!

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Darcy Reeder

Darcy Reeder’s been a journalist, a vegan pastry chef, owned a vegan pizzeria, and now she plays with kids all day (as a mama and a Kaleidoscope Play & Learn facilitator).

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