Both bassinets and cribs are immediate safe sleeping spaces for babies, and although having both will be ideal, it’s not an absolute necessity. They provide mutual and independent benefits that fit in with the age and development of your baby, plus, mom should also be considered in the equation.
A safe and comfortable bed for our little ones to sleep in is loaded with choices that can be a nightmare when viewing the wide range of bassinet and crib options available to parents.
There’s a mountain of options to consider as you go about creating the best possible space in your master bedroom that is safe and practical for both mom and baby.
Looking at the practical aspects of a safe sleep environment is vitally important; however, there are grey areas that limit the extended use of both bassinets and cribs.
We take a look at both options so you can get a clearer picture of what option might suit your circumstances better. Let’s get started.
Newborn babies depend a great deal on comfort and safety.
Comfort comes in different ways, like after a feeding session, the skin-to-skin time with mom, or being swaddled and listening to mom hum a song. It also means a comfortable place to sleep.
Swaddling mimics the security of mom’s womb, but being safe in the real world takes on a whole new meaning. Newborns need time to develop their motor skills, and their ability to breathe freely takes preference over all else.
A bassinet offers a smaller sleep space which is more than adequate for newborns who mostly sleep and move very little.
Besides, most bassinets are portable, which allows mom to move them around the house with ease.
Cribs are bigger and more of a permanent fixture. The mattress is lower and may not be the best immediate option for moms recovering from a C-section. But a crib can be used for a longer period and can be converted into a toddler bed when the need arises.
The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) leaves the decision to use a bassinet or crib to the parents, but they do advise on safety.
American Academy of Paediatrics safety guidelines
The AAP recommends a freestanding bassinet or crib instead of co-sleeping with your baby in the same bed or using a sleeping device that attaches to your bed. Their stance on baby sleep arrangements is pretty straightforward, and it is safety orientated.
- When you lay your baby down to sleep, the bassinet or crib space should be free of loose bedding, clothing items, soft toys, crib bumpers or anything else that can potentially impede breathing. Only have a breathable mattress and breathable fitted sheet in the sleeping area.
- Your baby should be dressed for sleep or swaddled for comfort, but it also helps to restrict arm and leg movements.
- Infants should always be placed on their back which is the recommended sleeping position. Avoid placing your baby on their side or in a face-down position.
- Sleep positioners or other sleeping aids are not recommended. As a side note, reflux is common in babies. Mothers may want to elevate their baby’s sleep position to minimize the symptoms, but this should be discussed with your paediatrician before going it alone.
- Sitting in a chair and holding your baby while asleep is not recommended. Different sleep positions may pose a health risk as the baby’s airway may become restricted.
- It is important to share your bedroom with your baby for a minimum of at least 6 months so you can keep a close eye on your little one and tend to their needs.
Consumer Product Safety Commission safety guidelines
These safety guidelines are more product orientated and include the following:
- Flammability and toxicity of materials like lead-based paints.
- Height of the sides must prevent a baby from falling out.
- Must have locking devices to prevent accidental folding of the crib or bassinet.
- Stability and spacing of rigid components like slats on a crib. The center of gravity on some bassinets may raise concerns if they are used for more mobile babies.
- The weight-bearing load.
- The thickness of mattresses and the allowable gap between the mattress and sides of the bassinet or crib.
As you can see from the general stance on safe sleeping for babies, both cribs and bassinets must comply with all the recommendations. Let’s take a look at cribs and bassinets individually.
The bassinet option
From a practical point of view, investing in a bassinet is a worthwhile investment as it offers mothers or caregivers mobility without compromising the quality of sleep that infants require.
The fact that infants mostly sleep and feed for the first few months with a few hours of awake time a day makes a bassinet a truly practical choice.
If the AAP’s recommendations are followed to the letter, not having a bassinet will bind mothers and caregivers to the bedroom while the little one sleeps. This will limit the time needed to attend to other things in the home.
Most bassinets are portable, and some prams have a bassinet fitted with carrying handles that can be attached to the pram structure or carried. This greatly improves the mom’s mobility in and out of the home while the baby sleeps comfortably in the recommended sleep position.
Bassinets are typically smaller than cribs or cots, making mobility easier with lockable wheels and non-slip rubber footpads.
Here are the pros and cons of a bassinet:
- Because they are smaller than a conventional crib, a bassinet is the ideal room sharing option. Most modern homes have smaller bedrooms, and space in the master bedroom may be limited.
- The size of a bassinet offers enough sleeping space for your little one for the first 3 or 4 months.
- The mattress is at about adult waist level, making it easier to lay your baby down or attend to their needs. Mothers who have had a C-section will appreciate this benefit as it limits stress and allows faster healing.
- Mobility is made easy with the use of lightweight materials, size and wheels.
- The smaller sleeping space is a logical transition from the womb and later to a crib with larger sleeping space.
- More budget-friendly.
- Materials used to manufacture bassinets comply with the standards as set out by The Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Because of the mattress height and mobility advantage, the bassinet can be moved right next to your bed, where you will be able to tend to your baby’s needs.
- The higher-level mattress coupled with the smaller size could upset the centre of gravity and result in a tripping hazard when your baby becomes more mobile.
- Bassinets have weight limits and can only be safely used for the first few months. Development milestones like your baby’s ability to roll over or push up on their hands and knees are indicators that you should transition away from the bassinet.
The crib option
Depending on the style and design of the crib, you may be able to use it from birth right through the toddler years. Some cribs can be converted into a toddler bed which will ultimately be a cost-saver for a few years at least.
Some parents may consider purchasing a used or second-hand crib, or perhaps they may receive a crib that’s no longer needed from a friend or family member.
Either way, the crib should still be checked to ensure no loose screws or worn parts. In short, it must still conform to all safety standards.
- A crib offers more sleep space than a bassinet and can be used for a longer period of time.
- Stable and sturdy thanks to the low center of gravity.
- Are made in standardized sizes, so sleep accessories will fit perfectly.
- There is a wide variety of designs and colours to choose from.
- The different sizes mean you can get a crib that will fit into your bedroom.
- Slatted sides allow the mom to see her baby from any angle. This has a calming effect on babies because they can see beyond their crib space.
- The assembly might be complicated with some makes.
- They are heavy and cannot be easily moved.
- Larger cribs that could be used as a toddler bed may be too big for the modern bedroom size. If you purchase a large crib, you might have to invest in a bassinet, so your baby has a safe sleeping place in your bedroom.
Is using a bassinet helpful in transitioning little ones through their early milestones?
Yes. The smaller space, portability, and easy access with the greater height a bassinet offers all contribute to helping your baby “acclimatize” to their new environment outside mom’s womb.
Can the sleeping height of a crib not be adjusted?
The mattress height is fixed in most cases, but adjustable cribs are available; however, this extra feature is costly and is mostly a personalized one-off made-to-order item.
Will the extra space in a crib affect my baby’s sense of security?
Babies don’t all respond the same way to their circumstances or environment, but your newborn will be swaddled. The immediate surroundings provide a sense of security, so the crib space becomes a secondary surrounding after swaddling.
The choice between a bassinet or a crib is a personal one that is largely influenced by space, budget, and immediate needs like coping with recovery from a C-section.
One is not better than the other as long as they offer a flat, comfortable and safe sleeping space for your baby.
A pram combo that includes a fitted bassinet offers mobility and the option to use the detachable pram bassinet inside the crib space until your baby outgrows. It is one way of getting the best of both options at minimal expense.