Bassinet vs. Crib: Where to Put the Baby

Filed under: Baby Essentials, Gear Guides: Babies, Sleep

crib

Over the years, the baby bassinet or cradle has come to be considered less of a nursery necessity. Credit: Getty Images

So, you're planning for a new baby. You know you'll need a crib for at least a couple of years, until it's time for a "big kid" bed -- but what about when the baby is brand new? Over the years, the baby bassinet or cradle has come to be considered less of a nursery necessity; because it only gets use for a few weeks, many parents choose to go straight to a full-sized crib. That's fine, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as long as you place the baby to sleep on her back wearing a sleeper, with no heavy blankets, pillows or crib bumpers. Still, there are reasons why using a bassinet might be a good choice for you.


A bassinet's small size allows it to be easily placed next to a bed. Unless you have a huge bedroom, chances are adding a full-sized crib by the bed is out of the question. It's recommended that newborns sleep in the same room as their parents for the first few weeks -- about the same amount of time a bassinet or baby cradle is useful as a baby bed -- especially if the mother is nursing. This allows for the baby to be checked on frequently during the night, and just having the baby in the same room early on can help give parents peace of mind.

It's easier to place a newborn into a bassinet. The high sides of a crib mean you may have to lean over them if the sides don't come down. You can place the baby in the bassinet from a sitting position on a chair or bed, if necessary, which is a benefit while the mother is recovering from the delivery, especially if she had a C-section.

There is little room for the baby to move around. Although, truthfully, a swaddled newborn isn't going to be any more mobile in a crib than a baby bassinet, psychologically you may prefer the small size of a bassinet or baby cradle.

Bassinets can be portable, unlike most cribs, allowing you to move the baby's bed to any part of the house for nap time. Portable bassinets are also convenient for visiting friends and family those first few weeks. To get the most out of your baby bassinet, look for a model such as a Badger Basket Portable Bassinet 'n Cradle, which converts to a toy box after the baby outgrows it.

You may have inherited an heirloom cradle or bassinet, or found an antique baby cradle you've fallen in love with. In most cases, the beautiful old cradle is safe to use. Be sure the mattress pad fits snugly; in addition, an old-fashioned wooden cradle shouldn't have hazards such as protruding hardware or legs that might give out, and check to make sure that any paint is not lead-based. If you do use an older bassinet, make sure it meets the current safety guidelines.

If you decide against purchasing a bassinet for your baby, don't feel guilty. Bassinets are not recommended by most pediatric experts in lieu of cribs -- it's the parents' choice. What is really important is that you don't put hazards like pillows and blankets in with the baby, that you make sure that the bassinet or crib you use is not under recall and/or meets safety requirements and that you keep an eye on your baby as much as you can while she sleeps.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.