Introduction: Make a Sidecar Cosleeper in 2 Hours With Standard Lumber.

Picture of Make a Sidecar Cosleeper in 2 Hours With Standard Lumber.

Co-sleeping with your baby is a great way to enhance bonding and makes it much easier to handle feeding in the middle of the night. However, pediatricians raise very legitimate safety concerns about sleeping in the same bed with your baby.

Our solution is a sidecar cosleeper that sits beside the bed, putting the baby right next to us, but with her own sleeping area so we won't accidentally roll over & squish her. I've made three of these over the years using standard dimensional lumber. You can make your own in a couple of hours.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

The materials and dimensions listed in this instructable are for a 38" X 24" mattress that is 2-1/2" thick. (This is the standard "compact crib" size.) You can easily adapt the design for any size mattress.


  • A compact crib mattress. Buy this first to make sure you know the dimensions. (I used the Kolcraft Cozy Soft Portable Crib Mattress:
  • 2 - 1 X 12 X 8' (clear, no open knots)
  • 1 - 1 X 4 X 8'
  • 3 - 2 X 4 X 8'
  • 2-1/2" screws
  • 1-1/2" screws

The lumber is dimensional lumber in US sizes.

When I made this, the lumber cost $30, the screws $7, and the mattress $25.


  • A saw to cut the boards to length. One board will need to be ripped to a narrower width, so a circular saw is ideal, but with patience, you could do this with a good handsaw.
  • A saw to round off a couple of corners. (You can do this with a jigsaw, bandsaw. or coping saw.)
  • A router with a 3/8" roundover bit.
  • A drill with a countersink bit to pre-drill for the screws and drive the screws.
  • A framing square.
  • 220 grit sandpaper.

Step 2: Let's Think About Safety Together...

Picture of Let's Think About Safety Together...

You are ultimately responsible for the safety of your child, so you must decide for yourself what makes a safe cosleeper and only use this design if you are satisfied with it. To get you started, here are some of the issues I thought of when designing ours:

  • All furniture for babies should be clean and simple without anything to get tangled or hung up in.
  • All openings should either be much smaller than your baby's head, or much bigger than the baby's body.
  • Everything should be rounded.
  • Baby furniture should be stable, even if that means "heavy". Another approach to stability is to attach the cosleeper to the side of your bed with a hook & eye on each end.
  • The cosleeper mattress needs to fit snugly against the side of the bigger bed's mattress so there's no gap for an arm or leg to fall into. Consider attaching it to the side of the bed or using rubber feet if the cosleeper is on a hard (slippery) floor. (Thanks Malkenite, for the rubber foot suggestion.)
  • I decided to make the baby's mattress even with the adult mattress, but Vedubb points out that for added safety, you may want to consider putting the baby's mattress lower so the baby can't easily roll into the adult's bed.
  • Make sure any wood finish such as oil, varnish or lacquer is non-toxic. We just opted for no finish on ours, and that worked fine.

Think about anything that makes your house exceptional. For instance, we have large dogs, so I thought carefully about what happens when playing dogs crash into the cosleeper or decide it's their bed.

Please feel free to add your own helpful thoughts about safety in the comments area. That's the most welcome kind of comment.

Step 3: Figure Out How Long to Make the Legs

Measure the thickness of your crib mattress.

Measure the distance from the floor to the top of the mattress on your big-people bed. Subtract the thickness of the crib mattress from this, and then subtract another 3/4" for the thickness of the bottom board.

For instance, our crib mattress is 2 1/2" thick, and the top of our bed's mattress is 26 3/4" from the floor, so our legs are 23 1/2" long:


Step 4: Cut the Pieces Out.

Picture of Cut the Pieces Out.

The sketch shows you the dimensions of the pieces in an exploded view. When you choose where to cut each piece out of your boards, think about which surfaces will be hidden by the mattress, which surfaces need to be splinter-free for the baby's safety, and which surfaces should be pretty because they are visible.

Note: It might be hard to discern details on the sketches at the default display size, but if you click on the image twice (once to get to the viewer, and once to get to image detail), you'll get to a page where Instructables helpfully provides a link to larger image sizes.

Here's a complete cut list:

3 pieces of 1 X 12, 39 1/2" long.
2 pieces of 1 X 12, 24" long.
1 piece of 1 X 4, 39 1/2" long, ripped down to 2 1/4" width.
2 pieces of 2 X 4, 23 1/2" long.
4 pieces of 2 X 4, These are the legs. Cut them to the length you calculated in the last step.
1 piece of 2 X 4, 36 1/2" long.
2 pieces of 2 X 4 with a 45 degree angle cut on each end, roughly 12" on the long side.

Step 5: Round the Corners on the Sides

Picture of Round the Corners on the Sides

Pull out your two 24" pieces of 1 X 12, and decide which way you want to orient them on the ends. Then using a coffee can or something with a similar radius, mark a quarter-circle on the forward corners. Cut these carefully using a jigsaw, bandsaw, or coping saw. make the rounded edge as smooth as possible, because any little bumps will be amplified later when you use the router.

Step 6: Screw the Pieces Together.

Picture of Screw the Pieces Together.

Before you begin the assembly, look at all of the diagrams and pictures so you have the structure in your mind. In particular, notice how the front has a "lip" that extends beyond the legs slightly. This is to help snug the mattresses together.

It helps to have something like a big piece of cardboard or carpet to assemble this on so you don't scratch up the pieces that show.

Start by screwing the back to the sides. Use the 1 1/2" screws for this. Pick out the nicest 39 1/2" 1 X 12 piece for the back, since both sides show. The screws go through the back board into the ends of the side boards. I suggest drilling pilot holes for all of the screws that go into the 1 X 12 boards to avoid splitting them.

Then screw the three boards that make up the bottom to the bottom of the side boards. The bottom boards are the other two 39 1/2" 1 X 12's and the 39 1/2" board that you ripped down to 2 1/4". Put the narrow bottom board to the back. (Look at the end view to see how these are laid out.)

Take a moment to make sure this part came together well and make sure the mattress fits. If all is well, press onward...

Put the three horizontal 2 X 4 pieces on the bottom of the mattress box. Attach the two 23 1/2 side pieces first, making them flush with the back edge. You'll need to angle the screws slightly to screw down through the box into the 2 X 4's without scratching the sides, but it's not hard to do this if you're careful. When you attach the front 2 X 4 to the box, make sure you pre-drill all of the holes because it would be easy to split the board with all of the screws in a line. Finish this part by using a couple of the 2 1/2" screws to attach the end 2 X 4's to the middle one. You'll use the 2 1/2" screws for the rest of the assembly.

Now attach all of the legs, referring to the diagram for placement & orientation.

The two front legs don't have any braces, and depend on being snugly attached in the corner of the horizontal 2 X 4's for strength. Use the framing square to make sure they are on straight when you put the screws in.

Attach the braces on the back, making sure to pre-drill the holes, because it's tricky to hold everything in place while starting screws. Square up the legs with the square before attaching the braces.

Step 7: Round Everything Off With the Router

Picture of Round Everything Off With the Router

Use a 3/8" roundover bit in your router to round off both sides of the boards that make up the mattress box. It won't hurt to round off all of the boards, but the ones up on top are the most important. Adjust the depth of the bit so that it is as deep as it can be without leaving a bead (ridge) when you run it down the edge of a test board.

Make very sure you're happy with the depth by testing on scraps before you start routing the cosleeper. For most of the routing, you can run the router base on the flat part of the boards. When you get into the corners, you'll be on the short edge, but you should be able to guide the router by "bridging" to the other board in the corner. Having the depth set correctly will make the edges match up when you change the orientation of the router.

Practice for a few minutes on your scraps before you attack the sleeper you just spent so much time putting together. In particular, notice that moving in one direction tends to splinter the wood, but the other direction leaves a smooth edge.

When you're all done, use a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth everything off. Be very careful to make sure there aren't any splinters on the side facing the baby.

I didn't put any finish on our cosleeper. If you decide you want to paint yours, be very careful to not use any toxic coatings.

Step 8: Use It!

Picture of Use It!

When you place the cosleeper next to the bed, make sure the mattresses fit snugly together. The potential for a gap between the mattresses is a danger of this design, so it's important that you check this regularly. Make sure the cosleeper stays in place, and if there's any chance it will slide away from the bed, consider putting some screen-door hooks on the legs to attach it to the side of your bed.


Step 9: Some Other Designs to Consider...

Now that I'm getting feedback on this, I'm seeing some other nice designs that you ought to consider if you're making one of these:

(1) User plucas1 provided a similar design that would work for MDF or other "sheet" materials if you prefer them to boards. One advantage to his design is that there's no need to worry about bracing the legs. Check out his thoughts before you decide on your approach:

(2) Here's a great solution that one mom came up with to deal the problem of stability and attaching to the bed. If I used this design, I think I'd consider putting a spacer under the mattress, because I like having the baby at the same height as Mom & Dad. This design might be a little harder to remove for cleaning, but we found that we really didn't move ours around much.

(3) User FileBravo made a similar, and much prettier cosleeper using plywood panels:

(4) Instructables user Vedubb commented that for safety, his cosleepers are made to be slightly lower than the adjoining adult bed to keep the baby safely confined. Apparently he makes something similar (but more elegant) than this professionally in his shop, so you might want to look him up if you want to buy a finished cosleeper.


Vedubb (author)2017-09-24

A little constructive criticism.

I must say this is way more heavy duty than necessary; however, I also must include overbuilding is not a bad thing when it pertains to safety. I have a small woodworking business and i build these for $149 out of 1/2" maple laminated wood (plywood), and solid wood as a custom upgrade. The price depends on the species utilized. My thought on the height; if the co-sleeper is the same height as the bed there's a chance the baby will roll onto the bed, which increases the chance of injuring the baby. I make them roughly 6" lower. Therefore, the baby cannot leave the confines of the sleeper.

Also, it takes me roughly 2 hours to build one of these; therefore, for anyone not experienced with power tools or someone that doesn't have the skills of a professional carpentry, building this in 2 hours is a real stretch. Especially if he/she follows your suggestion of only using a handsaw (rip a 39.5" board with a handsaw?).

Overall a good step-by-step instructable.

nickfank (author)Vedubb2017-10-09

Yes, you're right, the 2 hours assumes access to a skilsaw, router, drill & power screwdriver. However, the heavy design is in large part due to making it by just cutting dimensional lumber to length rather than going for elegance. That makes it a lot easier to throw together than the nice product you are making.

Thanks for the safety thought about making the cosleeper a bit lower than the adult bed. I'll add that and credit you.

Vedubb made it! (author)nickfank2017-10-10

Thanks for accepting my CC without getting defensive as some people do. Again, great instructable!


Vedubb (author)Vedubb2017-10-10

Oh, and thank you for the plug!

Vedubb (author)Vedubb2017-10-10

I can be found here:

AJLM (author)2016-10-28

Can you suggest a hack for when the baby starts moving around? Keeping the nearness and opening but limiting risk? I'm thinking netting, but have doubts.

bbluez (author)AJLM2017-01-29

Late to the party here, but you could put a support beam across the legs and then weigh it down with a photography sand bag (check online).

nickfank (author)AJLM2016-10-29

We just didn't have that problem, or at least not to the extent that it felt risky. When our babies were tiny, they stayed put pretty well, and by the time they were encroaching on our sleeping area, they were pretty big and robust and I had fewer concerns about smothering risk. (The risk had been transferred to me waking up with a baby sitting on my face.) Of course, whether there's a risk is always the parent's judgment call, not mine.

The net idea feels a bit risky to me. Entanglement and all. If I felt like the baby was rolling our way regularly, I think I'd just add a solid wood partition about 6 inches tall between the baby and parent's bed to keep the baby contained.

AJLM (author)2016-10-28

My friends just had a baby. Sent them the plans.

FileBravo made it! (author)2016-10-28

This great instructable was the inspiration and a useful guide to build my version of the side bed.

Thanks really a lot!

Let me share my design:

nickfank (author)FileBravo2016-10-28

That's a really nice and sturdy design. I like the way you figured out how to accomplish the rounding without a router, and the attachment to the bed addresses one of the safety issues that worried me when I made ours.

As I type this, I realize that our daughter who used to be tiny and sleep in this bed is now running around with her friends and laughing happily. Here's to an equally happy future for your daughter!

artgirl22 (author)2016-10-05

Thank you so much for this! I'm going to get the materials to make one soon- just wondering how many 1 1/2'' screws and how many 2 1/2'' screws are needed? Thanks again, I just love this instructable and can't wait to make my own.

nickfank (author)artgirl222016-10-06

I didn't really keep track of the screws, but I would estimate about 20 of the long screws and 30 of the short screws. I tend to buy boxes of the screws designed to be driven with a drill and just have them on hand for such projects. I'm sure a small box of each is more than enough, and the small boxes cost around $5 each. (Don't go for the fancy bright nickel plated or brass screws, instead look in the construction screw area of the fasterner aisle. I really like the deck screws that come with a "T25" bit to drive them. They are sturdy but cheap if you buy whole boxes.

howee_daddy made it! (author)2016-08-05

Made this for a friend. Great instructable!

jcools07 made it! (author)2016-07-09

Just finished mine. Thanks!

nickfank (author)jcools072016-07-10

Love the maritime theme!

KornelieL made it! (author)2016-02-17

Thank you for such a nice idea, we both love it :)

kylejwx (author)2016-02-03

Hi Nick, great design. Would you mind sharing what mattress you used?

nickfank (author)kylejwx2016-02-04

According to my old Amazon orders, we used the Kolcraft Cozy Soft Portable Crib Mattress:

The dimensions of that mattress are 38" X 24", which is a standard used by many manufacturers. For safety at this age, using a thin, firm mattress is generally recommended so the infant can't sink into it enough to obstruct breathing. (The description says "Cozy Soft", but it's 2.5 inches thick, so obviously there's not too much room to sink into this.)

nickfank (author)nickfank2016-02-04

I just updated the materials list with this link. Thanks for the idea to add that.

jettlax3 made it! (author)2015-12-11

my wife and I loved this so I built it... I opted to not use the router(being that I don't have one) and rounded the edges using my sander. it came out great.

nickfank (author)jettlax32015-12-14

That looks great! Thanks for posting the pictures. It takes some time to put together a set of clear instructions, but it's all worthwhile when you get to see other people making good use of them!

Robibame (author)2015-07-05

cool idea. thanks for sharing this.

TinyTraveller (author)2015-07-03

I was just looking for cosleeper ideas since they are so expensive in the store, thanks.

llsenich (author)2015-03-04

Tkbckrd88 made it! (author)2015-03-02

Using your base idea here I was able to make one of these to fit my families needs. Instead of building legs I was able to mount it on top of one of our night stands, also I made a shelf on it to hold alarm clock/cellphone since the original locations of these items are now taken up with the bed. Its not pretty yet but there are still a couple finishing touches to do such as round off the front corner, take a router around the edges, and paint if we decide to but I had to build this in a rush because my youngest daughter had out grown her other bed and there isn't enough room in our bed for all 4 of us. Thank you for this write up and the idea!

nickfank (author)Tkbckrd882015-03-02

Nice! We also had the problem of losing nightstand space on that side of the bed. I considered screwing an old beercan holder to the side, but decided others might not understand that it was meant to hold my tea mug...

bmaverick (author)2015-01-14

Made one like this back in 2010. Used a kitchen cart and added the top three side boards. It worked so well, the real crib was given away. Bummer I didn't take pixs of the setup, but only of our child laying in the top part sleeping.

SIRJAMES09 (author)2014-12-31

Nice...Sweet! : )

Simple; easy build; plain; nothing fancy about it....I love it! : P


For the legs, to add to strength & stability(so as a dog or other child does not cause this to collapse), what about PVC Pipe frame under the "box"/bed?

Or maybe even steel plumbing pipe? Say about 1.25 inch in diameter?

Personally, I would attach this to the bed for safety reasons regardless of how it is made.

My personal opinion is, there is no such thing as too much safety when it comes to our children/babies. I guess maybe I'm just weird that way.

I looked at the other plan you listed(the one with the sheets of MDF)....I have no qualms with his/her design/method, but I like this one better.

As for a finish, isn't there a veggie based oil/finish that can be applied to enhance the wood grain? Something veggie based would be about as non toxic as one can get I would think....


with your build, it looks fantastic!

nickfank (author)SIRJAMES092015-01-02

Thanks for your kind words!

I agree that the ultimate in stability would be just attaching it to the bed. That can be done pretty easily using a couple of screw-eye and hook sets, thus allowing it to be detached for cleaning. (We had an 80-pound dog decide one of these should be her bed, and it remained stable during the resulting fracas.)

If I was looking for a finish, I think I'd start with this list of food-safe finishes from Fine Woodworking:

However, we've made and used three of these, and they've all stayed pretty clean without a finish. Most of the mess stays on the mattress & bedding.

SIRJAMES09 (author)nickfank2015-01-02

You are most welcome Sir.

I have a tendency to call it as I see it...sometimes, it gets me in trouble. :P

Another option may be to cover the bedside crib with a faux leather material...
it cleans up well(I know this from experience with my own "babies"), and it is quite easy to apply/install.
Just more of my ideas....

Again, A lovely Ible, & you are most welcome Sir. :)

robert lung (author)2014-12-31

Awesome - this will definitely be come a must have in our ever expanding family!

joshuadaniel82 (author)2014-12-30

This is by far my favorite instructable yet. I have my first daughter on the way and she will be here in June of 2015 and I will build one of these before hand lol!! I hated leaving my son in his crib on the other side of my bedroom and this will completely fix that!! I love it! I think it would look great with either designs cut in the backboard piece or just take a wood burner and burn something cool into it!! Thank you for the inspiration!!!

mde bont (author)2014-12-29

Great project! I have created 2 years ago a similar project and will use it next year!!!

But I also added a hook (L profile) to mount it more sturly to my bed in case we would accidently bump against the cosleeper.

gvitrano (author)2014-12-28

when I see your's instructable I have more remember of my daugther.

Malkenite (author)2014-12-26

If you'd like to expand on the idea, make a fold-down side where you have the opening so that the hinges are hidden underneath. This will allow you to have a freestanding 'crib' type and when using it as a sidecar you can open the side and place it between the mattresses, which should help with any gap issues; even if a gap occurs the extra board will support the child until rectified (might also want to plan on rubber feet for the legs).

nickfank (author)Malkenite2014-12-27

That's a good idea. It would take some thinking to figure out how to do this gracefully when the mattress thickness is different, but it would work beautifully for folks who sleep on a thin futon-style mattress. Our cosleeper is on a rug, so it stays put surprisingly well, but on a hard floor, rubber feet make sense. I'll add that thought to the safety page.

joyceg41 (author)2014-12-25

what a great idea. I want to show it to my grandsons so they can build it for their babies.

omnibot (author)2014-12-25

That's a really good solution to sleeping with a baby :-)

Fission Chips (author)2014-12-24

Wow! This is really cool - I love it. Your baby seems to really enjoy this cosleeper! Great job - keep it up.

About This Instructable




Bio: I enjoy technology when it helps people. (And occasionally when it involves harmless pyrotechnics in the back yard.)
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