During one of your searches for the ideal alternative to cribs, you may have ended up on the Dock A Tot Deluxe once or twice. Given its design, you have likely pondered – can baby sleep in Dock A Tot?
The most direct answer to the question of Can baby sleep in Dock A Tot is a rather surprising no, though there is a but attached there too.
While it may seem like a neat little gimmick and something that’s snug enough for the child to fit in, it’s actually a really big safety hazard in many ways, especially when used as a co-sleeping tool.
Sure the bumpers are branded as breathable, but they’re still a hazard for safe sleep according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as co-sleeping isn’t considered safe for your little one when he’s still an infant.
That’s because co-sleepers are at a higher risk of getting impacted by sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) due to being surrounded by, what are essentially, crib bumpers. These present a very real hazard for a co-sleeper.
Many people put them in the cribs themselves too which is a very big no-no.
This is mostly done because of Dock A Tot’s poor initial advertising campaign which showed pictures of the product being used in such a manner.
However, while it is a dangerous product if used in any manner that’s not compliant with consumer product safety commission (CPSC) guidelines, this baby lounger can still be a very good way to get your little one to fall asleep or hang around you as long as he’s supervised.
So, Can Baby Sleep In Dock A Tot Safely?
Can baby sleep in Dock A Tot safely?
Yes, but only if you use it properly, and even then it’s not often recommended thanks to the cumbersome hurdles that the setup poses.
You see, the key to proper infant sleep is to have their crib, cradle, or infant bassinet flat and free of any other stuff that new parents often think is necessary.
There needs to be no extra fluff in the form of crib bumpers, stuffed toys, pillows, or anything else that might be labeled as “sleep products” because they only increase the potential risk of suffocation.
The mistake I mentioned earlier in the introduction relates to this because the people over at Dock A Tot made the mistake of showing pictures of the baby lounger being placed in the baby’s sleeping area.
This, in turn, led to a lot of new and inexperienced parents doing the same, thinking it’d help their newborn sleep easier, but all it did was expose their kiddos to an unnecessary risk that was actually completely against proposed safety standards.
While the Dock A Tot itself is being branded as an alternative sleep environment for the child, it’s only meant to be used outside of cribs and the like, as a standalone product.
Its main intent was to simulate a womb at first, but while it might be a feeling that the child might recognize, life inside your womb and outside it are quite different as the baby isn’t fed oxygen directly and can suffocate in a similar space without it.
Honestly, it just ends up looking like a small lifeboat that ironically puts the child in more danger than it prevents.
While it does say that the sides are made from breathable fabric, you’ll have to remember that pillows are too and pillows are already prohibited from being in the baby’s sleep area due to risks of carbon rebreathing.
This is what many people believe is the main (but unconfirmed) cause of SIDS.
That’s why it should be kept out of baby cribs and most other sleeping environments.
That said, is it useful for its intended purpose, for safe co-sleep and bed-sharing with the parents?
Once again, not really, but it can be if he’s under constant supervision, something that might be ideal for one parent, but not for the other.
Let’s face it, nobody wants to be the parent who has to stand guard over the child while the other just sleeps rather comfortably right next to him.
While the idea of co-sleeping might sound fine when a new mom looks at it for the first time and it might make for a neat Instagram picture, the fine details of requiring supervision when you’re the one who’s meant to be sleeping as well honestly makes it seem a bit ridiculous.
Personally, you’re way better off just using it for lounging when you want to take a bit of a breather without compromising your child’s comfort, and only for short periods of time while you keep your eyes on your little one like a hawk.
It’s by no means a necessary piece of baby gear and should only be used once your child is around 12 months of age, when he learns how to turn over once he finds himself in an uncomfortable position so he doesn’t suffocate.
That’s when the risk of SIDS becomes virtually non-existent.
Realistically, it’s an item that seems to break many safe sleep guidelines as it clutters up the sleep space to the point of actually making it more dangerous for your child to be in it.
The same goes for any play yards, baby loungers, and other similar co-sleepers – these should be kept out of those areas too as they’re just an obstruction rather than a helpful tool for your child, ruining his playtime more often than not.
Why Is The Dock A Tot Such A Big Risk?
Well, it might look like a very neat piece of kit as it seems snug enough to keep your baby in the right position, but kiddos are slippery little buggers and, when babies sleep, they can turn around if they fidget due to a bad dream or something similar.
That’s where the problems arise as your child, while still young, doesn’t quite have the capability to turn himself back over and could essentially be suffocated unless you can react in time, putting the child in distress.
Depending on how quickly you react, there’s the potential risk of permanent brain damage or even fatal consequences, something no parent wants for their child and will avoid in whatever way they can.
The material might say breathable, sure, and it very much is, but its snug fit causes carbon rebreathing which is unhealthy and potentially dangerous for your child.
For adults, a snug fit would only be a minor inconvenience as they can just move themselves into a more favorable position, but infants can’t really do that on their own.
Think of it like being stuck in an elevator or a sealed box and then slowly being forced to breathe back the carbon dioxide that you’ve already exhaled. It becomes really dangerous really fast, especially for their little lungs.
That isn’t the only scary problem though.
The Dock A Tot isn’t usually the exact fit of the baby crib and it leaves gaps between the outer edge of the product and the slats which, in certain circumstances, can lead to the child getting stuck in between.
This is why people started asking, can baby sleep in Dock A Tot or not.
If you thought the earlier situation might’ve been hard for a child to get out of, this one’s virtually impossible and will result in the worst-case scenario, so I beg you to never try putting a Dock A Tot in your baby’s crib.
Your kiddo will thank you for it.
Are There Ways To Make It Safe?
Sure there are.
When your baby is still a newborn and he still can’t turn himself over, don’t let your newborn sleep inside it unsupervised, and make sure to use it outside of the baby crib.
Wait until he’s capable and his muscles develop to the point where he can turn himself over on his own and then get one to use as a nice little mini lounge area for him to sit around and relax alongside you.
If you’d rather not wait, then help your little one develop those muscles through tummy time and various other exercises that are meant to promote the development of fine and gross motor skills (as long as he’s at the right age).
In the meantime, I’d suggest you stick to swaddling as it’ll be just as comfortable, but a lot safer for your little one too.
It does require a little bit of extra effort, but if you’re looking to replicate the warm comfort of a womb where your child will be able to sleep soundly in your arms, then using a swaddle is the next best thing, however, don’t use it when it’s time for the child to sleep in his crib.
If you really want to figure out any other potential ways to use it, I suggest talking to your pediatrician for advice, or, even better, a doula to get more professional advice.
In looking for the answer to can babies sleep in Dock A Tot or not I wouldn’t consider taking advice from local moms.
The potential risks related to this question are far too great to just ask anyone for advice.
Sure, there might be cases where moms didn’t have a single problem dealing with the Dock A Tot, but that doesn’t change the fact that the risk is still very real – they were just lucky enough to not have any problems.
I have used it, but I was always in the room when it was used, or I mostly used it as a prop to take pictures of my son and husband dressed up as buddy sailors.
I didn’t really use it for co-sleeping as I didn’t want to bother my husband with having to watch over me and my child.
If you can see yourself using it for similar purposes, I’d say it’s a nice pick-up, but an optional one so only take it if your budget allows for it, otherwise, you’re free to ignore it.
You can make it a safe option too, but that requires waiting for your child to hit one of the more significant developmental baby milestones.
At this point, his fine and gross motor skills will reach a certain level and his limbs will turn into little positioners which he can use to turn himself over if he’s stuck.
Until then, this is a product primarily aimed to be used as an infant lounger and nothing else.
Don’t leave your little one unattended in it or in any similar product that isn’t a large, flat surface.
If you’re looking for something to help improve your child’s sleep habits, then this definitely isn’t the right product to do it.
That’s usually done through proper parenting methods and keeping consistent feeding habits, and not through anything that needs to be placed inside a baby bassinet or crib.
Are There Any Alternatives?
There are, and those alternatives are very likely already in your house as they’re some of the most essential baby items like baby bassinets, cribs, cradles, and the like.
They’re the intended places for your little one to sleep in.
Some of them are just as portable as the Dock A Tot while also complying with modern safety standards set out by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CPSC.
The other alternative option is the swaddle as mentioned before since it’s much more portable than the latter, much cheaper, and is safe for the child.
You also get to keep him safely snuggled up in your arms instead of laying him down somewhere which is also an option, just don’t let him out of your sight at any point regardless, because who knows what might happen.
As for the sleeping habit improvement alternative, I suggest trying a number of things depending on what’s bothering your baby.
White noise machines are usually a universal solution as it helps produce a calming sound that helps the baby feel like he’s not alone, allowing him to calm down a lot easier and to wake up abruptly a lot less often.
I used one for both my kids and they were a lifesaver. And, they aren’t just good for kids!
They’ll help you out too if you’re someone who has to deal with a lot of stress at work, at home, or otherwise.
The other tactic that could work, especially if your baby room is on the side of the house where the sun hits directly through the window, is to get darker curtains to keep the room as dark as possible so no stray ray hits your ray of sunshine and interrupts his well-earned rest!
Heaters for the nursery might also be the reason why your baby wakes up often, so the question isn’t really can baby sleep in Dock A Tot, but can baby sleep at all?
Heaters for baby rooms help keep the room at about the same temperature level year-round, at least the good ones do, and it’s very important that your child is never too cold or too hot as that might introduce a whole other set of problems to your plate.
However, if you do get one, make sure it has tip-over protection and that it’s safe for your baby and any potential pets who might try and fiddle around this curious new contraption.
The tip-over protection makes sure the heater shuts off if it drops to its side or if it’s covered by a cloth or something similar so it doesn’t cause an accidental house fire.
Meanwhile, the baby-safe features should include a fan cover if it’s fan-operated and thermal insulation on the sides so nobody touching it gets burned.
The most ideal one that you can get would be one with multiple modes of operation, including a cooling option.
Finally, my last recommendation would be to get a humidifier.
The quality of the air in any sleeping area usually plays a big part in the quality of anyone’s sleep, parents and babies combined, that’s why so many people are opting for humidifiers nowadays.
Dry air can cause a lot of irritation and dryness which can interfere with the ability to fall asleep.
This is especially so for infants who are a lot more sensitive to any changes that might affect their skin.
Adding a bit of extra humidity to the air can help eliminate this.
Do make sure to get one that operates quietly, and, if you want to go the extra mile, find one that has a built-in infant nightlight for a bit of extra help in getting your child back to sleep or ones that feature an essential oil diffuser.
Do be careful of which one you choose though as not all of them are safe for kids.
The Bottom Line
Seems like we’ve determined that the answer to the question can baby sleep in Dock A Tot is a surprising NO in most cases and that it should exclusively be used as a baby lounger while your little one is under constant supervision.
If you’re looking for something to keep your baby in, outside of the crib, consider a regular swaddle over the Dock A Tot instead.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to improve his sleep habits, there are many other ways to improve that too with items that don’t have to go in the child’s bed like humidifiers, white noise machines, baby-safe heaters, and simply making the room darker.
None of these will compromise his safety and will help both you and your precious little kiddo with many more nights of good sleep!
• American Academy of Pediatrics. (N.D.) “Safe Sleep: Recommendations”. Retrieved from American Academy of Pediatrics website.
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