Whether you’re a new baby or a new parent, you’re going to need to relearn one of the basic tasks of survival: how to sleep! So it’ll come as no surprise that the right place to sleep can do a lot for all of you.
First things first: safety. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says the best space for your baby to sleep is in your room, but on their own stable surface. This also means you can feed and care for your newborn from the comfort of your own bed, rather than shuffling down the hall, bleary-eyed, to the nursery.
But which sleep space do you go for: bassinet or crib? What’s the difference between a bassinet and a crib anyways? And do you need both?
If you’re going round in circles wondering what’s the best and safest sleeping option for your baby, we’re here to walk you through your little one’s journey to slumberland. Welcome to Bassinet vs Crib – The PishPosh Buying Guide.
Bassinet vs Crib: What’s The Difference?
Both bassinets and cribs are safe places for your baby to sleep. But they do have a few important differences. Let's break them down.
What Is A Bassinet?
A bassinet (sometimes called a cradle) is a snug bed specially designed for newborn babies up until around six months old.
They are generally oval in shape, made of soft materials (like the traditional Moses basket) or with mesh/cloth sides and create a real cozy nest for your newborn to safely snooze.
They have a base which brings the bed up to around waist level or level with your own bed. This can make it easier and more comfortable for you to pick up and put down your baby. It’s particularly useful if you’ve had a c-section and can’t easily lean over a crib.
Bassinets can be picked up and moved around so you can take your little one wherever you go at home. They’re also small enough to nestle alongside your own bed.
They’re designed to make it particularly easy and convenient to keep your baby right beside you when you’re in bed resting or sleeping at night.
A bassinet will make it easy to check on, reach in and lift out your baby for a feed or cuddles, without actually having to get out of bed. This is a real winner in those hazy, sleep-deprived early days and weeks, when you barely know your own name. 😉
What Bassinet Should I Buy?
There are loads of different bassinet styles available. Some have features, like sides that can be easily pushed down, or swivel bases that make accessing your baby or transporting them from room to room even easier. Others are high-tech, with rocking motions and white noise options, to help speed up your little one’s trip to ZZZ. Here are some we recommend:
Portable and practical: Chicco Close To You 3-in-1 Bedside Bassinet
This bassinet converts to a changing table for extended use up to 35lbs. Swivel wheels, mesh side panels and a range of height adjustments allow your baby to be as close to you as possible while sleeping in their own comfortable space. A soft, quilted mattress along with soothing melodies and vibrations provide a restful, cozy environment.
Light and sleek: Halo BassiNest Swivel Sleeper 3.0
You can swivel the BassiNest and lower its side for easy access, while breathable mesh walls allow you to keep an eye on your little one. BassiNest 3.0 also has a sleek silhouette with an updated base that’s over 30% lighter, but just as sturdy as the original, making it easier to move around your home.
Cute and compact: BabyBjorn Cradle
This cradle’s gentle, springy rocking is similar to the soothing motion of a stroller. A perfect place to sleep in the early months when your baby takes short, frequent naps. It looks very pretty, too.
Soothing and supportive: 4moms Mamaroo Sleep Bassinet
With five parent-inspired motions, five speeds and four white noise options, you can find the ultimate soothing combination to help comfort and support your baby as they develop and grow over those first few months.
What Is A Crib?
A crib is a bed for a baby or small child with high, usually slatted sides. It’s a safe way to keep babies and young toddlers enclosed in their bed. There are lots of different crib options available.
Not sure when to buy a crib? They’re safe from newborn right up until two or three years old. When you child starts attempting to or even succeeds in climbing out of their crib, its time to start thinking about transitioning to a toddler bed.
Which Crib Should I Buy?
The Traditional Crib
The traditional crib is easy to assemble and does what it says on the tin. There are generally no extras. It’s safe for newborns and will take your baby through their first year and beyond.
We love the Milk Street True Traditional Crib. Minimal, efficient and clean, unlike most furniture classified as contemporary, the True Collection works well with all interiors. This is Milk Street's only ‘traditional-style’ crib – it has no high back so it doesn’t need to be positioned against a wall but can be ‘floated’ in the center of a room.
The Convertible Crib
This option begins its life as a crib and then converts into a toddler bed when your little one outgrows the crib. These can be a little more expensive than the traditional models, but will grow with your baby from birth up until their first big kid bed.
We love the Second Story Home Wooster 3-in-1 Convertible Crib for its clean lines, bold angles and sleek, minimalist design. A removable front panel allows the Wooster crib to seamlessly transform into a stylish daybed and – with optional Wooster conversion rails – a toddler bed to adapt to your family’s changing needs.
The Round Crib
This uniquely designed crib is a more expensive option, but looks stunning and gives your sweetie more room to move around and play as they develop.
We rate the beautiful Charlie Crane Kimi Baby Bed & Mattress. The Kimi doesn’t have any bars, so your baby can see the world around them and won’t get their leg or arm stuck. It’s also made of untreated beech wood so your growing baby won’t come into contact with any nasty toxic substances if they decide to use their bed as a teether.
When Is Baby Too Big For A Bassinet?
There’s no hard and fast rule here. It depends on the development and growth of your baby. They may have grown out of it by three or four months or be happy there until five or six months. But if they can roll over, it’s time to move them to a more spacious crib.
Bassinet vs Crib: Which Is Safer?
If you’re wondering which cribs are safest, look to the AAP. The medical organization says that both cribs and bassinets are the safest options for newborns. It also recommends choosing a freestanding option over a co-sleeper – a device that attaches to your bed. It says that ‘there is little research on the safety of bedside sleepers, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has published safety standards for these products, and they may be considered as an option.’
Whether you choose a bassinet or a crib, there are several sleep recommendations to consider – read our Safe Sleep Guide for more details. Here are the highlights to keep in mind:
- Always lay your baby down on their back, never face down.
- Share a room with your baby until they’re at least six months of age.
- Don’t have any loose items in your baby’s sleeping area, such as loose bedding, blankets, soft toys or clothing.
- Don’t use crib bumpers.
- Don’t use sleep positioners or any other type of sleeping aide for your baby.
- Ensure there are no gaps between the mattress and side of the bed.
Is It Safe To Use An Old Bassinet Or Crib?
It may be tempting to save money by buying a second-hand crib or using the bassinet that’s been languishing in your sister’s loft for the last few years.
We get it – new baby gear isn’t cheap. But hand-me-downs may be damaged or unsafe, particularly if they’re more than 10 years old.
Safe crib and infant sleep product guidance is constantly being updated so it’s best to opt for a new bassinet, crib and mattresses for ultimate peace of mind.
Bassinet vs crib? It all depends on you and your family’s needs. Focus on what works for you, your baby and your home. Sweet dreams!
Still on the fence about whether a bassinet or a crib is best for your baby? Don’t stress too much about what to buy! You can switch from one to the other later to adapt to your family and your baby’s needs.