So what should your baby sleep in. First off, nothing should be in the bassinet. No stuffed animals, no blankets, no toys. Babies should be wrapped up in a swaddle. A swaddle is a piece of cloth that their entire body is wrapped up in; A baby burrito. This goes back to the confound space of the womb. They are more comfortable this way.
White noise, air flow, and temperature. These are three additional items help fine tune the perfect sleep environment. White noise is often a sleep aide for people who have trouble sleeping. It sounds like static on the radio and drowns out background noise and helps you stay asleep. Babies benefit from this even more than you. Again this goes back to creating a womb like environment. Their ears at the time were filled with amniotic fluid. Which from our experience of being under water sounds more or less like white noise, minus the screaming and splashing sounds of children most pools seem to possess. Sure you might dismiss what you read as "only needed if you have a prissy or fussy baby." But somewhere in your sleep deprived first few weeks of parenthood, these words might suddenly take on a different light. White noise can be generated many ways. The easiest is a small white noise generating machine found at your local drug store. Simply turning on the radio often works. You can even tune it to an "empty" station to get some white noise-ish sounds.
SIDS-sudden infant death syndrome. Though there is not a particular identifiable cause; most experts believe that most cases involves some form of suffocation. Many baby experts recommend adequate air circulation in the babies room. Some even go as far as placing a fan near the bassinet. We have found that using a HEPA filter in the room where the child sleeps kills several birds with one stone. The noise it makes is constant and soothing. Air circulation is good. The added benefit of air filtration can only be a bonus.
During the winter months we typically keep the thermostat set very cold. We then heat the living area with a wood burning stove. Our baby came on one of the coldest days in February. We naturally needed to provide some additional heat to our bedroom. The ideal temperature for a sleeping baby has been said to be between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to maintain this temperature in our room we decided to use a radiator style room heater. This style of heater heats oil within it cavities and gently heats the air. It is not forced air, and does not require too much electricity. Ours had a simple controller and was cheap (<$50). Some have programmable thermostats and timers. Heating a single room in the house is much cheaper with a room heater such as this one, then trying to heat the entire house up to the proper sleeping temperature.
Due to the freezing winter temperatures the air around here tends to be very dry. The dry air can dry out the soft moist membrane of the your babies repository tract, and nasal cavities. This will in turn cause your baby wheeze and sound like it has a difficult time breathing. This coupled with the knowledge that SIDS is primarily caused by suffocation can lead to many sleepless hours listening to you babies breathing. One thing that can help out a great deal is to humidify the air. Doing so can easily be accomplished with a humidifier. Two basic type of humidifiers exist. A cooling mist and a warm vapor. If you live in a cold climate get the warm one. You should also consider filling the humidifier with filtered water. A cold mist type, uses an ultrasonic vibrator to atomize the air. This puts everything in the water airborne for you to breath; chlorine, fluoride, iron, and other minerals. A warm mist type humidifier basically heats the water and steam is released into the air. Theoretically steam is only water, and other stuff is left behind, this is the bases of distillation. However I swear I can smell the chlorine in the steam from using tap water vs. filtered water. Using filtered water also keeps your humidifier cleaner. The internals get pretty gunky and require regular cleaning. After the first few weeks, I stopped using filtered water. It was too much effort and the negative effects seemed to be minimal.
Wow you might be thinking. This is beginning to be very gear intensive. How did primitive people get by without all these gadgets. Did their babies all just die?? Well that isn't really a joke because infant mortality rates are almost nothing these days compared to what they use to be. Sure, there I go spewing unsubstantiated claims. But this is easily fact checked, if you so desire.
What about co-sleeping? Hey if the baby sleeps in my bed then I won't have to worry about half this crap. Though I know many people that have their babies sleep in bed with them, my recommendation is: DON'T, you'll smoother and kill your baby, and you will not sleep well. Ok that might be going a little far. But sleeping with your baby presents some risk. Rolling over and crushing it is just one. Your spouse can help determine if you are a gentle enough sleeper to even consider it. What is more likely is that you pull the covers over your baby. If those are not good enough reasons then keep reading. A baby, like a puppy, sleeps way more than you; 12+ hours overnight. If your baby gets in the habit of sleeping only when you do, and unless you sleep over 12 hours a day, your baby is sleep deprived. That is bad for development, since growing is only done while you are sleeping.
If a baby sleeps so much, why is it that you always hear of lack of sleep as the number one complaint of new parents. Though babies sleep alot, rarely is it continuous. The fact that they need to feed every 2 to 3 hours makes continuous sleep difficult. I read that we must have a minimum of 5 continuous hours of sleep to feel rested, or gain any benefits of sleeps. With a new born it is just hard to do so. One life saver are baby naps. In addition to his nightly 12 hours of sleep, babies typically take two naps a day. This is a great time for you to get a little rest as well. I know personally it is difficult to take this time and use it for sleep, since it is the only time in the day you have for yourself. I usually take this time to clean, work on personal projects, catch up on e-mail, or just watch some TV. But after a few sleepless weeks, nap time might be the time of the day you look most forward to.
How much of this is fact and how much opinion? Well that all depends on which Doctor, baby book author, Amish Midwife, Mother, or blogger you believe. The best is to gather alot of information and pick your own parenting style.