Arms Reach® News

News Article Oxnard firm says bedside bassinets help parents, infants sleep better

The nursery down the hall might feel like miles away, but having a baby in the middle of the bed could be too close and potentially dangerous.

The Arm’s Reach® CO-SLEEPER® brand bassinet is a short-term compromise, until a child is 5 months or 6 months old.

It attaches to the side of the bed and provides the benefits of cosleeping, but none of the dangers of bed-sharing, said Sharon Forshpan, president at Arm’s Reach® Concepts Inc. in Oxnard.

Sleeping with a baby has been a common practice since the onset of humanity, stemming from the instinctual need to protect children from perilous elements in more brutish eras.

The practice has fallen out of favor in Western culture, but experts say it is the cultural norm for about 90 percent of the world’s population.

Cosleeping seems to be making a comeback in the United States as experts tout its bonding benefits for the baby and parents. Arm’sReach® has sold millions of CO-SLEEPER® brand bassinets worldwide since the company launched in 1997.

Still, it might be cost-prohibitive for some families because prices range from $100 to $350.

The product is manufactured in China, where the company has about a dozen employees. Another dozen or so employees handle fulfillment and shipping to customers from the company’s 15,000-square-foot warehouse in Oxnard.

Arm’s Reach® also sells accessories and organic items, including mattresses, sheets and bumper pads. There’s also the CO-SLEEPER® brand Cocoon, a hammock that swings front to back, which is designed to help babies sleep better by providing a womb-like setting. The private company declined to release revenue figures.

Not everyone is sold on such sleepers. According to Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, a full-size crib is the safest place for babies to sleep because cribs are subject to mandatory safety standards that manufacturers must follow.

In contrast, there are no mandatory safety standards for cosleepers or bedside sleepers.

In August 2008, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning about the convertible “close-sleeper/bedside sleeper” bassinets manufactured by Simplicity Inc. The agency urged parents to stop using the product because two babies had died after getting trapped between the bassinet’s metal bars.

But recent crib recalls indicate that even with mandatory safety standards there are no guarantees against accidents. This month, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Dorel Asia SRL of Barbados, announced a massive voluntary recall to replace drop side and non-drop side cribs that pose suffocation and strangulation hazards to infants and toddlers.

Meanwhile, there have not been any recalls of Arm’s Reach® CO-SLEEPER® brand bassinets, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Safety is selling point

Sarine Sahatjian, an attorney in Sherman Oaks, was interested in sleeping with her baby, Noah, but didn’t want to risk injury to the child. She purchased a CO-SLEEPER® brand bassinet and was impressed with its safety features.

The bassinet has a separate anchor system that attaches to the bed between the mattress and box spring, and it can be adjusted to fit any bed.

“It almost feels like you’re sharing your bed with your baby,” she said. “You never have to worry because they’re right next to you at all times.”

Because the bassinet provides Noah his own space, Sahatjian thinks it will make the eventual transition to a crib in his nursery easier when she returns to work in a few months.

Timothy Williamson, a pediatrician in Ojai, believes a bassinet attached to the bed is a “very good concept.” Being at some distance from the parents’ bed, the traditional bassinet is hard on mothers — particularly for those who had Caesarean sections, he said.

The closer the baby is, the more rest parents will get, he noted. He discourages bed-sharing because babies can suffocate or get injured if a parent rolls over on a child.

Experts endorse product

The CO-SLEEPER® brand products a registered trademark owned by Arm’s Reach®, has been praised as a top baby product by leading pediatricians and sleep research experts such as William Sears and James McKenna.

Sears recommends two things for new parents: CO-SLEEPER® brand bassinet and a baby sling. While there have been many recalls on cribs, CO-SLEEPER® brand bassinet has a perfect safety record, he said.

The main benefit is that it makes life easier for parents at night because the baby is in close nursing and comforting distance, he said. Yet both baby and mother have their own space, which helps both sleep better.

The CO-SLEEPER® brand bassinet also makes babies more secure, because they are close to mom, he added. When babies sleep well and are not stressed, they thrive and grow to their fullest potential emotionally, intellectually and physically, Sears said.

Other experts have argued that cosleeping could lead to unhealthy dependency, but Sears argues that is outdated advice and against all science and common sense.

“Nobody believes that anymore,” Sears said. “Even the very conservative American Academy of Pediatrics advises that baby is in the room for the first year.”

Babies who are more secure the first year grow to be less dependent, he said. They’re more confident because when they cry their needs are met instantly.

To help underprivileged and teenage mothers bond with their babies, Arm’s Reach® has donated bassinets to birthing centers, including 12 CO-SLEEPER® brand bassinets to the Elizabeth House, a maternity home in Wisconsin.

Bassinet has multiple uses

The CO-SLEEPER® brand bassinet can be used until babies are 5 months or 6 months old or they can push themselves up on their hands and knees, whichever comes first. At that point, it becomes unsafe because babies could possibly climb out and fall, said Jim Dodds, the company’s chief operations officer.

Bassinets are designed to serve other purposes after babies outgrow them.

The company offers several designs, some which convert to a conventional play yard. The smallest can be used as a toy chest or for storage. The solid wood sleigh bed can convert into a love seat.

“It’s a very comprehensive line in terms of functionality and fashion,” Forshpan said.

Over the years, the company has built a strong reputation for making functional and sturdy bassinets, according to Forshpan, the president.

That should help as the company launches a new product line for four-legged “babies” in the next few months.

The company is expanding into the pet market after receiving many requests. The CO-SLEEPER® brand Duplex Pet Beds look like bunk beds, with the bottom bunk doubling as a crate.

The company gave about a dozen people pet beds to test.

“Every single one of them wanted to keep it,” Forshpan said.

The pet beds will cost more than the CO-SLEEPER® brand bassinets because they have to accommodate more weight — up to about 110 pounds.

The concept appealed to Cassie Copperfield of Agoura Hills, who said she’s always loved having her two dogs in bed. But her fiance prefers having legroom.

“It’s absolutely fabulous,” Copperfield said of the prototype she got from Arm’s Reach®. “I get to sleep with my dogs right beside me. I think they are appreciating the extra space as much as we are.”


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