Why is a baby cradle so important? Because rocking is one of most soothing things you can do for your new baby.
Infants grow accustomed to motion in the womb. Often when they wake during the night, a quick response of gentle rocking can soothe them right back into sleep.
Place the cradle right next to your own bed, and you can reach over to rock and comfort the baby without even getting out of bed, before the baby has a chance to fully wake up.
There's a good reason parents have lovingly crafted and cherished cradles for hundreds of years. Check out these great pictures of the baby cradle (a precursor of the rocking chair), dating from as far back as the Middle Ages (www.designboom.com).
The cradle's small size makes it the logical place for the littlest baby to sleep. Many parents say their babies seem to feel more secure in a small bed, and that their babies sleep better.
Parents also report that newborns actually nap more soundly when their beds are placed in a living area full of noise and activity, rather than in a peaceful bedroom. Scientists tell us that the womb is not a quiet place ... so perhaps all the hubbub is reassuring.
A cradle can be moved from room to room for daytime napping. This baby furniture is worth every penny of the investment.
Rock a bye baby, on the tree top ...
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall -
Mama will catch you, cradle and all.
Don't use any soft bedding where your baby is sleeping, other than a cotton sheet covering a firm mattress. Pillows or blankets are suffocation risks.
You can use a cradle until your baby is about four months old. Because babies sleep so much in those early months (up to twenty hours per day!), this can add up to a lot of intensive use.
Enjoy your baby cradle until your baby starts rolling from side to side on her own - then switch to a crib.