And ... it really depends on the baby!
And the parents!
Okay, here it goes: You will just know. Sigh. I said it. I'm sorry. I'm sorry to give you "that" answer, that blanket answer that covers everything from "When will I know I'm in labor?" to "When will I know I'm done having kids?" You'll just know. Really. Because, the reality is, it's different for each family.
I can tell you what will influence your decision, though, to at least give you a heads-up! Or, rather, I can tell you what influenced our decision.
First of all, I knew I didn't want Cub in our room very long before he was even born. I know that might sound harsh and horrible, but I kind of have this opinion on boundaries and our room being our room and his room being his room ... and I wanted to be able to transition him to his crib sooner rather than later. BUT, "sooner rather than later" is a tad relative in and of itself, so I figured we'd bring him home and go from there.
Like I mentioned in yesterday's post, we put Cub down for naps in his crib from Day 1. The way our house is set up, Cub's nursery is close to the living room, so we could lay him down in his crib and leave the door open and have easier access to him during the day than if he were in our bedroom. Looking back, I'm glad we did that, because Cub never had to adjust to being in his crib--it was already familiar to him, even though his night sleep still occurred in his pack-n-play in our room.
Secondly, I had to decide whether I liked feeding Cub in our room during his middle of the night feedings. And this is where a lot of moms differ, because every mom is different and every mom has different strengths and weaknesses. For me? STARING AT MY SLEEPING HUSBAND WHILE I'M AWAKE TRYING TO FEED A BABY IS A WEAKNESS.
I mean, I'm not bitter. Really. I knew that was part of breastfeeding. But.
(Okay seriously, I wasn't bitter. Because my husband had to get up and go to work while I could at least catch up on sleep during the day. So we did not share in nighttime feedings.)
I just could not feed Cub in our room in the middle of the night! It was too hard for me to stay awake. So, the act of having to get out of bed, walk across our living room to the nursery, pick up Cub, carry him into the living room (back when his feedings were really long, it was easier to do it in front of the TV) was really good for me. It woke me up enough to be coherent. This is a good thing. You have to remember--those first few weeks of breast feeding (should you choose to do so) take a LONG TIME. Also, for me, during those first few weeks, breast feeding literally physically drained my body of energy. So, you can understand why perhaps I couldn't lay in bed and attempt to nurse Cub for an hour next to my snoring husband while the energy is draining from my body. And it's pitch black. And I'm exhausted anyway.
It would have made for two sleeping parents and one hungry baby.
Watching Little House on the Prairie at 2:00am in our living room while nursing Cub was much more successful for me. Plus, there's nothing like watching life in the pioneer days to give you a kick in the pants and realize how easy you have it now. Shoot fire.
So, Cub went to the nursery after five days and we never looked back. And not being in our room did not make him a miserable, grumpy, non-affectionate child. He is the snuggliest of Cubs and my friends even comment on how much they love to hold him. He's a good hugger. So be encouraged that whatever decision you make will be the right one. You will know what works best for you. Some moms love to roll over, grab the baby, feed the baby, put the baby back in the pack-n-play/cradle/co-sleeper, and go back to sleep. And other moms are like me and need to actually get out of bed to stay awake long enough to feed their baby.
And, as far as whether or not you should even get a cradle, that decision is up to you (I saw that in your comment, too). Our pack-n-play came with a bassinet, so we used that. Other people have cradles and love them. It's really up to you. Either will work, and cradles are just so gosh-darn cute, anyway, that you can't go wrong either way. :)