Whether you call it a bedside sleeper, a sidecar sleeper, or a cosleeping bassinet, these products that allow baby to sleep right next to a parent but have their own separate sleep space are fantastic for the first months of baby's life. Without some caution and attention to instructions and safety information, though, a bedside sleeper could be dangerous for your baby.
First, if you're planning to have baby sleep next to you in this way, it's best to purchase a product that is designed to be used as a bedside sleeper.
New safety standards for bedside sleepers went into effect in 2014, so you can be sure the models sold in the US right now have met fairly strict testing and design requirements. However, many parents opt to create their own bedside sleeper using a crib or bassinet with some parts removed. If the parts you use to strap the crib or bassinet to your bed are not designed to be used in that way, though, they may not perform as you expect, which could leave your baby at risk of injury. Not securing the sleeper to the regular bed is also dangerous, as a gap can form between the two and could result in entrapment, suffocation, or even death.
If you intend to buy a bedside sleeper, avoid used models that don't meet the current safety standards. Prior to 2014, there was no mandatory safety standard for this type of product, which means there can be quite a bit of variation in design and safety among brands and models.
From 2001 to 2011, the time period studied by the Consumer Product Safety Commission as they created the new safety standards, four babies died in bedside sleepers. Another 36 incidents were reported that did not involve fatalities. Poor design and broken components were the main issues with the products in these incidents.
Babies could fall out or become entrapped or suffocate in some of the designs. In some incidents, the caregivers did not follow the assembly or use instructions for the bedside sleeper, which lead to injury or product failure.
The new CPSC safety standards for bedside sleepers are based on similar ASTM voluntary standards. All bedside sleepers sold in the US must have three separate disengagement tests done to ensure the sleeper will not pull away from the bed and create a gap where baby could fall. One of the tests makes sure the bedside sleeper parts can withstand an adult rolling into the side of it without breaking or warping. Other tests check to see if any openings could allow a baby to slip through and fall or become entrapped, whether the bedside sleeper is set up correctly or not. Some play yards have a bassinet attachment that functions as a bedside sleeper, so there are specific requirements for these products in the new safety standards, as well. Check out the complete set of standards on the CPSC bedside sleepers page.
As with any sleep space for baby, you should not add extra padding or pillows to the bedside sleeper. Blankets and plush toys also should be removed before baby goes to sleep.
Make sure there are no cords from baby monitors or parents cell phones and radios near the bedside sleeper, as baby could get wrapped up in the cord and be hurt.
It's important to remember that all of the safety standards in the world may not help if you don't take the time to read the instructions that come with your baby's bedside sleeper. You must make sure that you assemble and use the sleeper correctly. Not doing so could allow the bedside sleeper to fail or create safety risks for your baby.
More Baby Sleep Safety Tips
- Safe Sleep Spaces for Baby
- Baby Monitor Cord Safety
- Crib Safety Standards
- Is Your Antique Crib Safe?
- Choosing Crib Bedding
- Crib Bumper Safety