A friend of mine asked what to get for her baby, and I thought that I would share my knowledge with everyone. And since I love baby gear, let's do it with Blogger because the format is so much fun. Keep in mind that this is all just my opinion, based on my own experience of only one child (and some input from friends). But, it's very fresh in my mind, considering my little one is only 3 1/2 months old!
The first three months, especially the first 6-12 weeks, can be the hardest when it comes to sleep derivation and baby fussiness. I have read in several places that it is recommend that you should sleep next to your baby for the first three months of her life. This is probably instinctual for many moms, so the search is on for a pregnant lady: What to buy?
If you are on a budget and you have the space in your bedroom, just use the full-size crib for your newborn. Or set up an adult bed in the nursery.
Let's say you want to sleep with your partner in your own bedroom, and don't have space for the full-sized crib. Or you just can't stand to put your tiny bundle of joy in a giant crib. You can buy a pretty bassinet, which does not take up much floor space. This bassinet has a rocker base.
Maybe you feel you need to keep your baby really close, but don't want her in your bed (something I don't recommend), you can get an Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper that fits up against your bed. It's basically a pack-n-play with a drop side. The mini version goes up to 23 pounds, which will get you through the first three months. And then if you change your mind because the baby is too close and keeps you up all night, you can move the Co-Sleeper away from your bed and put the side up.
And WOW what a God-send this cradle was. For those late-night fussy spells, Tom or I could lay in bed and move the cradle with one hand in a semi-conscience state. If you are not as lucky as us to inherit an heirloom cradle, you can still find one at yard sales, consignment shops, or even on-line. Another low-cost alternative is the Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper that also has the advantage of inclining the baby, especially helpful if your baby is colicky. (Any of these sleepers can be fitted with a foam wedge under the sheet for a similar effect.)
One last option worth mentioning, recommended by my doula, is the baby hammock. If you have a really fussy baby, are desperate for sleep, and have money to burn, give it a try. It is widely used in Europe and suspends your baby from the ceiling with a nice natural sway motion (provided by you). It is probably not safe to let your baby sleep in all night, so you will still need a regular bassinet/cradle/sleeper. I have not tried it though.
I say, whatever newborn sleeper you choose, put it on your partner's side of the bed. Then, at night when you hear your baby stir, before she starts to cry, elbow your partner. Tell him to change the baby's diaper and then bring her to you so you can side-lay feed. Then when the baby is finished, elbow your partner again to put the baby back her sleeper. That way you don't fully wake, and it's the least your partner can do to make up for the fact that your body is on loan to this little creature for two years, counting pregnancy.
In conclusion, choose a sleeper that moves. Even if you are blessed with a textbook baby, you will have periods of fussiness. And God help you, if you have a fussy or colicky baby, you will buy anything to get some much needed sleep.