Crystal Madrilejos

Design & Creative


Co-Sleeper: Construction

As Crystal mentioned in the previous post, the basic idea was adapted from the “Culla Belly” design. The main difference is the overall height of the co-sleeper. If you notice in the picture of the “Culla Belly” co-sleeper, the mattress it’s designed for is exceptionally thin. Ours is a “normal” mattress and is much thicker so the sides of the co-sleeper had to be a lot taller.

In essence, it’s a three-sided box with a “shelf” halfway up where the baby lies. The whole thing is attached to a frame underneath that extends far under the mattress keeping it in place. It’s quite secure but just for added strength we bolted it to the pallets that our bed sits on.

I did a lot of research on the toxicity of different types of wood and decided to use Poplar. Pretty much all of the basic wood types you would find at a lumber yard are perfectly safe, with the most common irritant being the dust produced from cutting and sanding. I’m also using Poplar for the crib, which is currently under construction. It’s a nice, easy to find, and not too expensive hardwood.

A lot of cribs these days are made out of different types of plywood and even MDF, which contain all sorts of industrial glues and even formaldehyde, so I knew I wanted to avoid those at all cost.

The next consideration was how to finish the co-sleeper. I decided to make my own finish instead of worrying about paints and stains and any kind of hard finish. To make the finish I heated up mineral oil – which is used on cutting boards and wooden utensils and is essentially unscented baby oil – and added some fragrance-free beeswax until it melted. (I bought the beeswax at A.I. Root here in town. Did you know that Medina, OH is The Bee Capital of the World? Well, you do now.) Then you let it cool and you rub on the paste that results (below). It’s completely food-safe and non-toxic.

My only worry in all of this is that Crystal’s not going to want to give up her new bedside space. (She’s currently using the co-sleeper as a side table and keeps her contacts, alarm clock, books, glasses, yarn, water bottle, tissues, hair ties, crocheting/knitting needles, and whatever else she manages to take to bed with her.)


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  1. spastic goldfish - February 26, 2012 12:09 pm

    What did you use as a mattress pad for this bed?

  2. Andrew and Crystal - February 27, 2012 2:01 pm

    Hi! I used the leftover remnants of felt that I used for the sides. You could probably also use layered pieces of quilt batting. You can see a better photo of the mattress here:


    hope that helps!


    • RENEE HEBERT - July 18, 2016 6:44 pm


  3. Joe S - August 3, 2012 7:02 pm

    Why is it so deep (horizontally)? The back of the Culla Belly seemed half that far away from the bed.

  4. Andrew and Crystal - August 3, 2012 7:26 pm

    @Joe S: You could technically make it however deep you want, newborns don't move that much in their sleep.

    Ours is only 16" deep (maybe it appears wider in the pictures). I don't know the exact dimensions of the Culla Belly since I don't think it was ever actually produced.

    We chose the dimensions based on the fact that we wanted our son to sleep in it for

  5. aloveleelittlelife - June 26, 2013 8:16 pm

    What measurements of poplar did you buy and what were the cuts? My husband is thinking of creating one for our twins.

    • Andrew and Crystal - July 9, 2013 2:40 pm

      Hi @aloveleelittlelife – I'm sorry that I'm just getting back to you now! I meant to reply to this, then I completely forgot. As for the Poplar, I believe Andrew got 1" thick X 12" wide boards. For the cuts, that's a bit trickier and Andrew would have to elaborate more. We really need to work on a guide for all of you interested. I wish I could be more help. I'll see if

  6. Anonymous - July 8, 2013 10:43 pm

    You said you're really concerned about all the glues and other stuff that's in MDF and plywood. Did you ever think about what kind of chemical stuff might be in the pallets you're sleeping on?

    I want to sleep on pallets as well, it's got this cool industrial look, but… I'm not feeling to sure about it.

    • Andrew and Crystal - July 9, 2013 1:30 pm

      Hello and thanks for your feedback! It's true that pallets can contain chemicals – though not all are chemically treated. You can find ones that have only been heat treated (though there is a lot of debate on this making their rounds on the internet.)

      Our thought with the co-sleeper is that our baby's face is only a couple inches away from the wood since the co-sleeper

  7. Ginelle Bohanon - January 28, 2016 7:29 am

    Are you manufacturing this co-sleeper or are you willing to make one for purchase for me? I’ve been looking for the culla belly co sleeper everywhere and I am looking for something similar to this.

    • Crystal - February 26, 2016 1:56 am

      Hi Ginelle! No, we’re not manufacturing this co-sleeper and we’ve declined a number of offers to custom make them since we don’t really have the capacity to. Back when we first decided to make this, we found a company called Baby Bunk ( that makes one very similar but with legs. The website isn’t the best, but might be worth looking into. Good luck!

  8. Mandee - February 24, 2016 8:51 pm

    I’m going to use this for my dogs!

    • Crystal - February 26, 2016 1:57 am

      That’s a great idea! I remember when I was junior high, our two dogs would jump into bed with me and even though they weren’t big dogs by any means (a springer spaniel and a shih tzu) they took up the entire bed :D


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