Parents of newborns often worry over making their babies comfortable and content and making a baby’s bassinet more comfortable is no exception. Since there are many safety considerations that go along with sleep comfort for babies I thought it would be a good idea to tackle this question.
Babies should sleep without traditional comfort items to ensure their safety and to follow safe sleep guidelines. However, you can make a baby’s bassinet more comfortable by using different mattress pads and sheets, putting your baby in a swaddle, adjusting the room’s temperature, and making sure that the bed is close to mommy in the room.
Read on to find additional tips and ideas that will allow you to make your baby’s bassinet experience one of comfort and quality sleep.
How to get your baby comfortable in the bassinet
Prior to purchasing a bassinet, it is recommended that you spend some time doing research. Adults will not often buy a new mattress without testing out some options and reading reviews online. While you cannot test a bassinet, you can visit a store like BuyBuy Baby and check out the wide array of bassinets available for purchase. Similarly, you can narrow down your price range and the options that fall within your budget when visiting the store.
Once you have your options narrowed down, take some time to read a wide array of reviews online. It is likely that by the time you are done with your research you will have already discovered which product in your price range is most favored by parents for their baby’s comfort and quality of sleep.
While there is little that can be done safely to change the bassinet surface your little one sleeps on, there are other aspects of their sleep environment that you can change to make them more comfortable. There are some things to consider when placing your little one down to sleep that may allow for more comfort. Are your little one’s pajamas too big or too small? Do you have them in the proper sleep sack or swaddle? Is the bassinet sheet soft enough?
We will explain some of these more in-depth in our tips listed below.
However, it is important to remember that safe sleep practices take precedence over comfort items. Per the American Academy of Pediatrics, safe sleep practices require certain things to be taken into consideration.
First, do not add any pillows, blankets, or additional comfort items to your baby’s bassinet, these items are suffocation and entrapment risks and need to remain outside of the sleeping area. Second,the sleeping surface should be firm. This means that any form of a mattress pad is not recommended as they obstruct the mattress’ integrity as a firm surface.
While it may seem odd that babies sleep on firm surfaces with few comfort items, unsafe sleep practices result in over 3,500 deaths per year and these steps will help prevent an avoidable accident.
One of the easiest ways to help your little one feel more comfortable in their bassinet is to adjust the room temperature. Maybe your baby is a little too hot or a little too cold? Similar to Goldilocks, babies need it just right to sleep peacefully.
Once you find the perfect temperature (often between 68-72°) for your little one you may find that they never found their bassinet to be uncomfortable, instead, they just couldn’t sleep well due to temperature-related discomfort.
If your little one is not yet rolling over, consider continuing to swaddle your baby in order to promote comfortable, high-quality sleep. Swaddling helps babies feel safe and secure which will allow them to rest comfortably in their bassinet, a sleeping space that is far larger than they have been accustomed to in the womb.
In most cases, nurses at the hospital will have already taught you how to swaddle your baby but it can be tricky to get right, especially if your baby is fussy. If you are worried about the potential risks of using swaddling blankets consider using a zipper or velcro swaddle that will ensure your little one will remain safely wrapped throughout the night.
For babies who prefer to have their arms free while they sleep or those who have begun rolling over, sleep sacks are a great alternative to swaddles. Similar to a swaddle, a sleep sack provides a comforting and secure sensation for your baby while also allowing them the freedom to move around and have their arms free while they sleep.
Sleepsacks also allow for an extra layer of warmth-which is great if your baby happens to get cold while they sleep as a sleep sack will provide the comfort and warmth of a blanket without any of the safety risks.
Just like adults, babies may have preferences about the sheets that are on their bassinet pad. Maybe the sheet you have placed on the pad is trapping too much heat? Or maybe the sheet is just not soft enough for your little one to be able to rest comfortably?
Thankfully, as long as a sheet follows the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s guidelines for safe bedding for infants, then you have the freedom to change the sheet out to meet the comfort needs of your baby. The sheet should be tight-fitting and unable to come loose per the safety standards.
If possible, try to find a brand of bassinet sheets that has a zippered or velcro option. This style of sheet will stay on the bassinet mattress more easily and will help prevent issues with the sheet bunching up and posing a risk to your baby.
*An extra tip for the moms (sorry dads)! Try sleeping on the bassinet sheet for a few days before using it in the baby’s bassinet. While this might sound odd, it has been researched that babies sleep better when they can feel comforted by mom (which includes her scent) and that the ability to recognize her smell is a survival instinct in newborns. Which means, if your baby’s sheets smell like you, they will likely feel comforted because the smell will trick them into thinking you are the one holding and comforting them as they rest*
While your instinct may be to offer your little one a soft pad within their bassinet to help them sleep more comfortably, this is actually not recommended. In order to preserve the safety of your little one’s sleep, it is necessary that they sleep on a firm mattress for at least the first year of their life.
A firm mattress means that the sleep surface has no indenting when your baby is placed on the mattress. A mattress pad would likely create indenting which can obstruct a baby’s airway if they turn their head or happen to roll over.
There will come a time when your little one can sleep on a soft bed, but until that day it is essential that you keep your baby on a firm surface to promote their safety and avoid a preventable accident.
Proximity to Mom
Having the bassinet close to mom is not only an aspect of safe sleep practices for newborns, but it may also help your little one feel more comfortable while they sleep. Similar to the quick tip about getting mom’s scent onto the bassinet sheets, having mom nearby will allow your baby to know they are safe and that mom is close and able to provide comfort.
If your baby seems restless in their bassinet, try moving it a bit closer to mom to see if this helps soothe them. There are even bassinets that can rest over the bed (such as the Halo bassinet – we own this one here) or act as safe co-sleeping (arm’s reach co-sleeper bassinet) options that will allow your baby to be as close as possible, while still in their own safe, firm, secure sleep space.
How do I know my bassinet is safe?
To ensure the safety of your baby’s bassinet it is recommended that you follow several guidelines. First, only use a product that has been approved and certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Bassinets that are sold in stores and online are often certified by this federal standard of safety, however, there are old and dangerous models of bassinets still available on the internet, so please do your research before purchasing a bassinet.
Similarly, Consumer Reports recommends never buying a used bassinet. Used bassinets may be damaged without your knowledge which can prevent the bassinet from being a safe item for your baby to sleep in. As we previously noted, Consumer Reports also recommends only using sheets that are made for your shape, size, style bassinet to ensure that you are following safe sleep guidelines.