Many parents wonder whether or not they need a bassinet for their baby and if they are worth the money. Since sleep and safety are two of the biggest priorities for your baby, I thought this would be a fantastic question to answer with my research and personal experience.
Bassinets are a necessary purchase for many parents because they provide a safe place for baby to sleep during the first several months of life, portability, and assistance with co-sleeping arrangements that allow for easier breastfeeding throughout the night.
Since doctors recommend babies sleep in their parent’s room for at least the first six months and bassinets make parent’s lives easier during the newborn months, bassinets can be an incredibly helpful item to have. Read on to learn more about all of the options, various products, and safety information to consider as you decide if a bassinet is essential and worth the investment for you and your new addition.
Should you get a bassinet?
While making the decision regarding a bassinet will vary from family to family, there are many reasons why parents often choose to purchase a bassinet for their new baby. Having a bassinet in mom and dad’s room can often make the newborn transition easier due to the proximity you will have to your new addition.
It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that babies sleep in the same room as their parents for up to the first six months of life. This close proximity allows for ease of breastfeeding, changing, and soothing baby throughout the night. Most importantly, the risk of SIDs decreases by 50% when the baby sleeps in the same room as mom and dad.
Bassinets are a safer option than bed-sharing (which accounts for a large percent of preventable deaths in newborns) which means this investment will allow parents to promote the safe sleep habits of their newborns.
Thanks to the wide variety of bassinets that are available on the market, there is a safe bassinet for every price range. This means you can choose the specifics of what you need or want for your baby and how much you are willing or able to spend on this investment. Bassinets are typically a great investment, especially if you are hoping to have multiple children, as they tend to be used for four to six months and can be used over the course of several years with multiple children.
Another great aspect of bassinets is that there are portable varieties and bassinets that can be utilized throughout stages of child development which means you may not need to purchase a portable crib or pack n play in the future because your bassinet can convert up to the next stage.
What’s the point of a bassinet?
As we have discussed, there are many reasons why you would want to get a bassinet for your newborn with proximity and ease being at the top of the list. However, there are several other pros that bassinets offer.
First, compared to a crib, bassinets are small. Why may this be important? Babies have been accustomed to being held closely in the womb which is a rather small space. When babies transition to the outside world they often feel unsafe in bigger space. By swaddling your baby and placing them in a smaller sleeping space you are providing comfort that is similar to their mother’s womb.
Another benefit of a bassinet is the ability to soothe your baby. Whether they are soothed knowing mom is close by or because you purchased a bassinet that can rock, swivel, etc. there many ways to utilize the bassinet to soothe your newborn.
A final aspect to consider in your decision-making process is actually mom. Having a baby close by in a bassinet can ease some of the anxieties new moms feel as they acclimate to caring for their newborn. By having a baby close by, mom may be able to sleep and rest more peacefully because she is not wondering if the baby is okay in the other room. By giving mom more peace of mind and rest, both mom and baby, and likely the whole family, will feel more at ease and have a smoother transition.
How long do you need a bassinet?
In general, a traditional bassinet will be used for the first four to six months of your baby’s life. There is a range as it truly depends on when your baby begins to meet various milestones.
Once your baby begins to roll over in their sleep or they are able to sit up on their own, it is no longer safe for them to sleep in a bassinet. When babies roll in their sleep, they are likely to hit the sides of their bassinet causing them to wake up. Similarly, babies who grow quickly may find that a bassinet is no longer comfortable due to their size.
Similarly, once a baby can sit up on their own, bassinets become a safety risk. Due to their small size, it is possible that a baby who can sit up may fall out of the bassinet and injure themselves. Or, if they go from sitting to attempting to stand they may cause their bassinet to fall over. All of these are risks that are easily avoidable if you transition your baby to their crib prior to meeting this milestone.
Sleep expert and neonatal nurse, Cara, of Taking Cara Babies recommends babies transition to their own crib and out of their bassinet in mom and dad’s room between four to six months. Cara’s recommendation is not a result of these safety guidelines but is the result of her professional work as a sleep expert. Around four to six months babies begin to become aware of their surroundings when they awake while sleeping during the night. Meaning, that if they are still sharing the room with mom and dad, they are more likely to struggle with their ability to sleep through the night and get high-quality sleep at night.
This means that mom will likely also sleep better as she will not be waking up each time baby moves or awakes for a minute throughout the night!
Do babies have to sleep in a bassinet?
While it is recommended babies sleep in bassinets for the first few months, it is not required or necessary. If you read through parenting websites and forums you will find countless discussions from parents who chose to opt for their baby’s crib immediately after returning home from the hospital.
Many of these parents listed sound reasons for making this choice. Some parents have limited leave from work and know that they need to acclimate baby to their crib much sooner than they may desire to accommodate their work schedules and routines.
Other parents have noted that their spouse has a job that requires them to frequently wake throughout the evening which can cause disruptions for a newborn’s sleeping habits. Some parents note that they are simply light sleepers who know they will sleep better with their newborn in the other room.
As parents, I think we all know how crucial sleep is in our ability to parent and care for our new babies. Similarly, we know how crucial quality sleep is for our little ones as they grow and develop during the first few months of their lives. At the end of the day, the decision you make will depend on your individual and family needs. Only you know what option is best for you and your little one and if the decision to use a bassinet is not sitting well with you, then trust that instinct and go with the choice that best honors you and your baby.
Can newborns really sleep in the crib right away?
Yes! As we discussed previously, there are many parents that choose this option for their newborns for a variety of reasons.
If you are choosing to place baby in their crib right away, please be sure to follow the AAP guidelines for safe sleep. These guidelines include having an empty crib (no bumpers, blankets, toys, etc,), tight-fitting crib sheets that do not pose any suffocation risks, and ensuring that your little one is safely swaddled.
Famous Olympian, Shawn Johnson shared in a video on her YouTube page that following the birth of her daughter and working with a sleep coach, she and her husband chose to have their daughter sleep in her crib early on. Shawn took a unique approach and placed a bed in the room so that she or her husband could sleep in her daughter’s room with her for the first few months.
This is a great option for parents who feel most comfortable with their baby sleeping in a crib, don’t want to purchase a bassinet, or deal with the transition from bassinet to crib, and those who already have an extra bed that they can temporarily place in their little one’s room.
Co-sleeper vs a bassinet
While traditional co-sleeping is not recommended by the AAP due to the high incidence of accidental deaths associated with co-sleeping, there are a number of co-sleeping bassinets available on the market.
These bassinets often have one side that is easily able to detach which allows for easy access to baby. By detaching one side, the bassinet is able to be positioned right along the edge of the bed creating a safe, co-sleeping environment while also preserving the integrity of baby’s individual sleep area.
Examples of these bassinets include the Arms Reach co-sleeper bassinet. However, there are alternatives, including the Halo Bassinet, a swivel bassinet that allows the bassinet to rest above or on top of the parent’s bed to promote co-sleeping that follows the AAP guidelines for safe sleep. You can check those bassinets out here and here, respectively.
Personally, we’ve used the basic version of the Halo Bassinet for our youngest two kids and we’ve absolutely loved it. It’s also held up very well – this thing is SOLID!
Co-sleeper bassinets are approved by the CPSC, meaning that they meet all of the federal regulations and safety requirements for bassinets and cribs sold in the United States. Co-sleeper products that are intended for use in the bed do not often follow these guidelines and are not recommended by the AAP as they cannot promote safe sleep practices.
Crib vs bassinet
As we have considered the decision making process we have covered some reasons parents may skip the bassinet entirely, however, there are a few additional considerations to cover as well.
One of the most common reasons a parent may choose to purchase a crib instead of a bassinet or instead of purchasing both products is due to the essential nature of a crib. While bassinets are great for parents of newborns, they cannot be used for extended periods of time. Cribs are inevitable and at some point, all parents will need to buy one for their baby.
For this reason, some parents may choose to buy a crib and a crib only as it will save parents from spending additional money on an item that has a shorter shelf life than a crib. Similarly, some parents may trust the structural integrity of a crib more than a bassinet and may prefer to utilize a crib from the start for this reason.
An additional consideration is space and available storage. A bassinet will need to be stored following the baby’s transition to their crib and for parents living in smaller houses or apartments, storage space may be limited, especially if they have multiple children. It’s also fairly uncommon for a bassinet to break down into a smaller size easily without taking the thing apart.
Pack N Play vs bassinet
At some point during their child’s early years, most parents will end up purchasing some form of a Pack N Play for their little one. For this reason, some parents choose to utilize a Pack N Play from the beginning to avoid purchasing unnecessary items.
Pack N Plays follow the CPSC guidelines meaning that they are safe and approved for baby sleep and follow AAP safe sleep guidelines. This means parents can rest easy if they choose to utilize a Pack N Play from day one!
The portable nature of a Pack N Play combined with the years of use that parents can get from this one item, makes a Pack N Play an appealing option for parents of a newborn. Especially now that there are transitional Pack N Play options that include bassinets, changing tables and the traditional Pack N Play features in one product.
Another great perk of a Pack N Play that may appeal to parents is that by utilizing a Pack N Play from day one, you are helping your baby feel comfortable in a sleep environment that you can utilize anywhere. This is a great thing for families that travel often and worry that their little one may struggle the first time they sleep in their Pack N Play.
Challenges new parents may have if they utilize a Pack N Play instead of a traditional bassinet are the proximity and positioning of a Pack N Play. Baby will not be positioned as close to mom as they may be in a traditional bassinet due to the size of the Pack N Play. Similarly, if your Pack N Play does not have the bassinet insert, the positioning of the sleeping surface may be challenging for a postpartum mom due to how low to the ground the sleeping surface often is.
What should I look for in a bassinet?
When considering which bassinet to purchase the most important feature to look for is the CPSC certification. This will ensure that the product you are purchasing is safe, regulated, and able to be easily recalled on a federal level if concerns arise related to the safety of the product.
The other considerations really come down to personal preference. Price points can vary on bassinets so understanding your budget before looking can help prevent the disappointment of falling in love with a product you cannot afford. By searching within your budget, you will be able to compare the features of each product to continue narrowing down your search.
Features that are desired by parents will also vary. Some parents want a bassinet that is easily portable. Others want bassinets that can swivel, rock, vibrate, play music, or include storage and other features that allow for ease of use. Still others simply want something that they can keep close to them in bed. These decisions vary from family to family and only you can know what you want and what you need.
Speaking of wants and needs, it is important to consider both, especially if you are working within a strict budget. There are many bassinets available today that offer a lot of extras that a standard or portable bassinet may not include. These are great and can definitely make life easier for parents, however, they are often wanted features and if they push your budget it is okay to consider options that offer just the essential needs (functional and safe) of a bassinet.
Best bedside bassinet
Even if you have only briefly searched for bassinets, it is likely that you have stumbled upon the Halo Bassinet. The Halo continuously tops every list for the best bassinet on the market. Heck, that’s why we bought one!
This bassinet features 360 swivel capabilities, adjustable height, and can rest easily above the bed or on the bed. The Halo can also be lowered on one side to allow for easy access during the middle of the night. One of the best features though is that it is easy to store and can easily collapse to fit under any bed which means it is a bassinet worth hanging onto for future additions to the family!
You can check out the stellar reviews of the Halo bassinet from other parents right here.
If the Halo is just too big a stretch for your budget a few other great options include the Arms Reach Co-Sleeper Bassinet and the Graco Pack n’ Play Reversible Napper and Changer Playard. Both of these fall in price ranges below the Halo Bassinet while also providing needed functionality and extra features for ease of use!
Best portable bassinet
Portable bassinets can be a lifesaver in the early months of a newborn’s life, especially if you are planning to travel often to introduce your little one to the family.
Thankfully, Evenflo has you covered. Considered the best portable bassinet, their Loft Portable Bassinet comes in below $100 and even has a nightlight, temperature monitor, and Bluetooth capabilities that allow it to play soothing sounds and music for your newborn. Meaning this portable bassinet is not only easy to travel with but it may also eliminate the need to travel with a sound machine if your baby is accustomed to sleeping with white noise.
You can check out the Evenflo Loft Portable Bassinet right here.
If you desire a less high-tech option around the same price as the Evenflo option, Chicco also makes a portable bassinet that makes many of the “Best” lists due to its lightweight, breathable mesh design. You can check out this option right here.
Bassinet with the most bang for your buck
We briefly mentioned them when discussing the bassinet vs. Pack N Play dilemma. However, Graco Pack N Play Playards with additional features seem to continuously make every “Best Bassinet” list as an option that provides the most bang for your buck. With the features available in these playards including storage, bassinets, and changing tables, these playards that are actually considered bassinets meet a wide variety of needs in a compact space.
Meaning that parents can spend a little bit more money on one of the more elite models of these playards as it eliminates the need for several other products that parents would otherwise need to spend money on. However, parents can also choose their standard model and still have all of these needs met while also staying well within a reasonable budget for a bassinet!
You can check out several different models of Pack N Plays that include bassinets right here.