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Fine woodworker Abel Smith, of Tay River Builders, crafted a cradle for his best friend’s baby. He spent months executing a safe, eco-friendly cradle with the dream that it would be passed among friends for generations. He got the idea from a cradle from his own childhood; each parent who used that cradle would sign their newborn’s name on the bottom before passing it on to the next newborn. Since his best friend is Algerian, Abel used African hardwood accents and to represent the American mother, he used locally forested maple, walnut, and cherry. The completed cradle, pictured above, was finished with a clear top-coat from BioShield.
If I was in Abel’s cradle circle, I would have counted myself lucky to share in this wonderful tradition—even luckier to have saved myself the hours of research I ended up doing to find a suitable alternative. Cost was a factor—since infant sleepers are swiftly outgrown—and mine also had to be eco-friendly, safe, and portable. I was game for waking in the wee hours, so long as the wee baby was within arm’s reach.
In my 39th week of pregnancy, I was surprised (correction: overwhelmed) to find the following nine options (I tell you, nothing about having a baby is simple):
Foregoing a transitional bed and going straight to a crib saves money, space, and the environment, plus it might help your baby establish healthy, long-term sleep patterns. But a crib wouldn’t be portable, a deal-breaker for me.
Pack-n-Plays are traveling cribs—with bassinet and changing-table attachments—which can be used as cribs or playpens for years. But while you could theoretically outfit a Pack-n-Play with an organic mattress, you’d still be left with a plastic and vinyl base.
A bassinet is a smaller, portable crib. A cradle is a bassinet on a rocker. When passed along, a cradle can be a truly great money-saver and heirloom.
A stroller is a portable solution, but “pram” mattresses are usually foam and vinyl, not intended for overnight support.
The organic Hushamok swing claims to create a soothing, womb-like environment that lulls infants to sleep. Perfect; except for the $409 price tag.
Lots of infants end up in “the family bed” – it’s eco-friendly and free, but many first-time parents want another option.
A co-sleeper is a crib with one side opening on the parent’s bed, which allows the baby to be within arm’s reach at night. It can come in natural wood, and like the Pack-n-Play, be broken down and transported in a carrying case.
I chose the organic Moses Basket. True, I found a few other portable options, but the Moses Basket only weighs about a pound. With its handles, it’s good not only for traveling overnight, but also for moving from room to room. It retails for $315 with a wooden rocker, but I purchased a “like new” one for $80. The basket worked well for Maximus (asleep here), but if we have a second baby, I’m angling for a spot in Abel’s cradle!
If you recently finished your own nursery makeover, we would love to see photos for future publication. Upload your photos on the Bob Vila Facebook page.
For more nursery remodeling, consider the following Bob Vila videos and articles: