Long before the Little Peanut arrived, my husband and I knew we wanted to have her sleep in our room with us for at least the first couple of months. As I did research on bassinets and portable cribs, I couldn’t find any that I found to be “stylish”, let alone at a reasonable price. Most were clunky or cage-like. Somewhere along the way I stumbled upon “co-sleeping.” No, this isn’t a new concept, but for a first time mom, it was pretty intriguing. I loved the idea that the baby could be right there next to you, without the danger of sleeping in bed with you. Even more so, I loved how she could be right at my level, so I could easily calm her during the night without having to get out of bed or even lift my head off the pillow. Unfortunately, I could find no co-sleepers that I liked here in the United States. I did find the Bednest, which I absolutely loved, but the expensive price tag and long waiting list unfortunately did not make it a viable option for us. So, it seemed that in order to get what I wanted, I had to make it myself. After some very quick sketches, I used SketchUp (aka my best design-friend) to help visualize the bassinet in 3D before finalizing the design. Here is some images of what I came up with.
I wanted something very simple and clean with no fuss. But above all, safety was my number one concern. When I told some of our family members that I was making a bassinet that connected to our bed, we got more than one strange and concerned looks, but I assured them it was going to be completely safe. This was MY child after all! I decided on MDF as a building material for its strength and inexpensive price. When designing, I didn’t want any screws or nails showing in the final product, both for appearance and safety. So once a generic “box” was designed, I worked in “slots” in which one piece could slide into another, making the co-sleeper even stronger. There are screws and brackets holding this together, they are just hidden. I will get more into that later. My entire design is based on the mattress size. I didnt want to build this huge bassinet and have no mattress to fit it. So after a strenuous internet search to find the smallest crib mattress I could, I found what I needed at Walmart. It is a great size at 16″x24″ and only 2″ thick. And at $19.99, I couldn’t have asked for more! (They no longer sell the exact one that I purchased, but they now have MORE size options and this one is a pretty close match to the one I bought.)
Once the design was finalized, I used AutoCad to create templates for each piece that needed to be cut out. With the simplicity of the design, there is only 5 pieces to the actual bassinet. I went to my local hardware store and bought 1/2″ MDF which is plenty strong. And because I only needed 5 pieces, one sheet at 48×96 would do just fine. That’s $23.99 people! Now I could have easily measured my templates out onto the board and cut these 5 easy pieces myself, but I was 7 months pregnant, and didn’t feel like cutting these out on my own, so I cheated and decided to use a CNC router which would make every cut perfect. I actually had another project that I wanted to get started on using a CNC router as well. This project, which I hope to detail when it is done, required 3/4″ MDF. So just to be super, duper safe, I decided to change the design at the last minute and make the support that Peanut would be laying on out of 3/4″ instead of 1/2″ MDF. This was no biggie to change a couple dimensions and I had plenty of MDF to spare (On a side note though, this 3/4″ change was highly unnecessary and I wish I had left it at 1/2″ because it is way HeAvY now). Here are is what the sheet looked like after I had it went through the router.
Once the pieces were cut out, I sanded the edges to get rid of any loose splinters and I made sure the pieces fit together with a quick assembly. Once I made sure they fit, things were a go!
After priming the pieces, it was time for final assembly. Daniel, my husband, and I ran to our local hardware store and bought 10 brackets and some screws (carefully making sure they would not be longer than 1/2″, as they would have gone through the bassinet). We arranged the brackets underneath the bassinet and in between the bottom panel and the bed panel so that all brackets would be hidden and the look would be very clean.
We put the bottom panel in last, so that we could reach the other brackets with the drill. The bottom panel brackets are secured from below, so they are not seen.
We also planned ahead. We figured out where we wanted the brackets to go before we bought them. In doing so, we figured out we needed at least two brackets above the bed panel in order to secure the upper portion of the bassinet. Since our mattress is only 2″ thick, we bought brackets that are only 2″ thick as well so that the two brackets needed above the bed panel will actually be hidden once the mattress is in place.
It is important to pre-drill your screws if you are using MDF. It is very dense, and the screws are not strong enough to go in on their own – they need some help. From here it was smooth sailing once we finished painting (well I shouldn’t say we!)
In order for the co-sleeper to work, as in attach to our bed, it has to actually…attach to our bed. We couldn’t just attach four legs to the bottom, butt it up against the bed and call it a day. For safety, it has to remain as close as possible to our bed while remaining sturdy. The bassinet is actually connected to the bed with MDF scraps that are fastened to the bottom of the bassinet and then slid between our mattress and box spring. Daniel found the longest scraps he could of the MDF and did some rough cuts in order to get them somewhat “lumber size”. Then he went ahead and attached those to the bottom of the bassinet. You can see where I added a “lip” on the side panels of the bassinet. I did this so that the support pieces that went under our mattress would remain somewhat hidden.
Because the MDF is sooo heavy, we had to add two legs to the bassinet as well. After doing some research, we decided to just pick up these puppies from IKEA. They were not the correct height we needed (around 17″), but because they were hollow and $3.50 a piece, we knew we could cut them down and make them work for us.
Once Daniel cut them down to size, he attached them to the bottom of the bassinet and we were done! Just slide between the mattress an box spring and voila!
We are extremely happy with how the co-sleeper turned out. Since day one, Finley has slept at least 6 hours a night. And at 3 weeks, it became 8 to 10 hours. People may not believe me, but I give a lot of credit to this co-sleeper. She can look over and see me at anytime and I am right there when she needs me and she is right there when I need her :)
*UPDATE: We are thrilled with the responses we have gotten for the co-sleeper. At this time, we are not going to sell the co-sleeper. There is just too much liability for other peoples’ precious little ones. We are however ‘thinking’ about selling the plans for it. I will keep you posted when we give this the go ahead. Also a thank you to those who have expressed their concerns about our choice to use this co-sleeper. This resolution is not for everyone, however, this is a choice my family and I have made together after careful thought and consideration.