Last Updated on April 27, 2021
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As a caring parent, you may have many questions when it comes to making sure your baby is able to safely and comfortably get the best sleep possible. Should you get a bassinet or crib? Do you need to get both right away? When should you transition the baby to a crib?
In this article, we’ll compare and contrast the crib vs bassinet and talk about when it is best for you to use each one.
Instead, you’ll need to give your baby a safe and comfortable space of their own in your room. This is where a bassinet or crib is critical for a night of good sleep for newborns and infants.
Main Differences Between Bassinet vs Crib
While they’re both recommended options to help a newborn sleep safely, the main differences between a crib and bassinet include:
- Size: A standard crib is often much larger and weighs more than a bassinet. This is especially the case for solid wood cribs and those meant to expand into a toddler bed.
- Age & Weight Limit: The use of a bassinet is limited to either the first 6 months or until the baby can get onto their hands and knees – whichever comes first. Bassinets also have weight capacities of around 15 to 30 lbs, which is about half of the 50 lb limit on most cribs.
- Portability: A bassinet is almost always going to be more portable due to its smaller size and lightweight design. However, there are folding portable cribs that are similar in size and function to a bassinet.
- Price: The price is all over the place depending on the type, name brand, and extra features that come with the crib or a bassinet. Prices for bassinets range from $50 on the low end to $1,300+ for a high tech model with more comfort features. Cribs range from $100 to several thousands of dollars for high-end designer models.
Bassinet vs Crib Comparison
Here, we will provide a visual comparison of the features of both a bassinet and crib.
|Configurations||Traditional, portable, movement/rocking, or attachment to a stroller or play yard||Standard, compact, portable, convertible, or crib with changing table|
|Portability||All configurations are great for travel and movement between rooms||Most cribs are stationary except for mini and portable cribs|
|Material||Wood, plastic, or metal||Wood, plastic, or metal|
|Ease of Assembly||Easy setup with quick assembly of bassinet basket and legs||More difficult install steps on traditional cribs to bolt on railings and mattress platform|
|Recommended Age for Sleeping||Birth to six months old or until baby can get on hands and knees||Birth to 2 years old or until your toddler is able to climb over the railing|
|Weight Limit||15 to 30 lbs||50 lbs|
|Price||Much cheaper||More expensive, especially full size cribs|
What is a bassinet?
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPCS) defines a bassinet as a “small bed designed primarily to provide sleeping accommodations for infants that is supported by freestanding legs, a stationary frame/stand, a wheeled base or a rocking base, or that can swing relative to a stationary base.”
In short, a bassinet is a small enclosed bed that is used for the first six months of a baby’s life. They are a must-have for many parents since they usually take up much less room than a standard crib and fit better next to their bed. Bassinets are also designed to be portable, lightweight, and foldable so they can be moved from room to room and are especially convenient when traveling.
WHAT WE LOVE
- Portable and you can easily move it around the house.
- Small size makes it convenient to place next to your bed to monitor the baby’s breathing and movement.
- Easy to get your baby in and out of since the sides aren’t very high.
- Safe for sleeping since they have mesh sides to prevent suffocation and increase airflow.
- Come in many different cute designs and colors.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER
- Only able to be used until the baby is 6 months old.
- Some babes may have trouble adjusting to the crib after getting used to the small space.
How long can a baby sleep in a bassinet?
The question of when you should move your baby out of the bassinet comes up a lot.
Nearly all bassinets come with a manufacturer recommendation to transition your baby by 5 to 6 months old. At that age, the baby may be able to get up on their hands and knees, which increases the risk of them falling out of the bassinet.
So, you should be ready to transition your little one into a crib by around 4 months old.
What are the different types of bassinets?
Bassinets come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they are primarily classified based on how they function. There are standard, rocking/swivel, travel, and even smart bassinets that provide a range of features.
These are full-size bassinets which often have a traditional look which come in many styles and colors.
Swivel or Rocking Bassinet
These allow you to gently rock the baby to sleep if they prefer a little motion.
While most bassinets are portable, a travel bassinet folds up compact and fits in a small carrying bag.
These are often the most feature packed and luxury bassinets with sensors, soothing sounds, and gentle motions to keep baby sleeping.
What is a crib?
In the past, babies usually slept in a cradle, which was made of wood or metal. Today, most babies sleep in a crib, which is basically a bigger baby bed.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission defines cribs in two categories, either full size and non-full size cribs.
- Full-size cribs are a “bed that is designed to provide sleeping accommodations for an infant” that has interior dimensions of approximately 28 inches (71 centimeters) in width x 52 3/8 inches (133 centimeters) in length.
- Non-full size cribs “may be either smaller or larger than a full-size crib, or shaped differently than the usual rectangular crib. The category of non-full-size cribs includes oversized, specialty, undersized, and portable cribs.”
Put simply, a crib is a specific type of bed for babies that in most cases can also be used for toddlers. The traditional crib has four sides that are high enough to prevent a child from escaping once they are able to sit up on their own.
WHAT WE LOVE
- Cribs can be used from birth until your toddler starts thinking about climbing out
- High railings and sturdy slats keep bigger babies and toddlers securely in bed
- Helps to keep infants corralled when you need to quickly do stuff around the house
- Comes in many shapes, designs, and sizes to fit the decor of your nursery
- Built to last through many years and children
- Some are able to convert into a toddler bed
WHAT COULD BE BETTER
- Standard wooden cribs are very heavy and can’t be moved easily
- Takes up much more space than a bassinet
- High quality cribs can costs hundreds of dollars
Can the baby sleep in the crib right away?
Yes, but it’s recommended by the AAP that the crib be co-located in your bedroom for at least the first 6 months. This may not be ideal if you have a smaller bedroom, but it is the best way to ensure your baby gets safe sleep.
What are the different types of cribs?
There are several types of cribs: standard cribs, mini cribs, convertible cribs, and pack-n-play cribs.
Standard or Traditional Crib
These full-size cribs are the largest, sturdiest, and often most expensive. They are built to last through the early years of all of your children’s lives.
Convertible cribs offer the best of both worlds because you can use it as a crib and then convert it into a toddler bed when your child is ready. You’ll want to be sure you won’t need the crib again before your toddler moves into his big kid bed.
Crib and Changing Table
If you’re tight on space, a combination crib and changing table may be just what you need for those late night diaper changes.
Still larger than a bassinet, the mini crib doesn’t have all the extra bulk and space that a full-size crib has for the baby to roll around.
Pack-n-Plays or Play Yards
Made specifically for sleeping while traveling, the Pack-n-Play is large enough for toddlers and folds up into a convenient storage bag.
Crib Safety Standards from the CPSC
The last major update to crib safety standards by the Consumer Product Safety Commission was back in 2010. This was the first time crib standards had been revised in several decades, but it rolled out many important safety requirements.
Some of the most important crib standards include:
- Traditional drop-side cribs cannot be made or sold; immobilizers and repair kits are not allowed
- Wood slats must be made of stronger woods to prevent breakage.
- Space between each of the slats should be no more than 2-3/8 inches (6 centimeters) to prevent infants from getting their head trapped or falling out.
- Crib hardware must have anti-loosening devices to keep it from coming loose or falling off.
- Mattress supports must be more durable.
- Safety testing must be more rigorous.
When to move your baby from the bassinet to crib
With so many bedding options, there is no easy answer for when to move your little one from the bassinet to the crib.
The timing of the transition is a somewhat a personal decision. Do you want your baby to sleep independently or do you want them sleeping close to you? Maybe you want both at different times?
Regardless of your preferences, there are certain milestones that indicate that it’s time to make the transition. This includes when your baby reaches the age or weight limit from the bassinet manufacturer or when the baby can get on their hands and knees.
Once this happens, it’s time to move them into the crib for their safety.
Are bassinets and cribs safe?
Yes, the AAP agrees both are safe options for your infant as long as they comply with the CPSC safety requirements and if you follow the AAP’s guidelines outlined below.
In research published in The Pediatrics Journal on bassinet related deaths reported to the CPSC from 1990 to 2004 (53 deaths), 85% were caused by anoxia, asphyxiation, or suffocation and 9.4% were SIDS. Of note, it found that 74% of the cases included additional items in the bassinet, which included soft bedding.
So, while the beds themselves may be safe, it’s just as important to ensure you follow the baby sleep guidelines from AAP.
Baby Sleep Guidelines from the AAP
It may go without saying, but sleep is one of the most important elements to a baby’s growth and development. Babies born prematurely or those that experience bouts of illness often need extra care and attention when it comes to getting a good night of sleep.
A leading authority in terms of baby sleep guidelines is the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). They recommend the following for safe sleep for your baby:
- Same-room sleep until at least 6 months old. Your baby should sleep in a bassinet or crib in your room until he or she is at least six months old. This provides a safe environment for your baby and gives you the freedom to tend to them throughout the night. This also reduces the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and suffocation with the parent nearby to hear any struggles.
- Never sleep with the baby in your bed. You can’t control when or where you might toss and turn in the middle of the night. The mattress could also cave from your body weight and roll the baby onto their face where they can’t breathe. We can’t stress enough how unsafe this is for your baby.
- Never sleep with the baby in your arms. While it’s hard keeping your eyes open at 3am in the nursery glider, it’s a big safety risk if you fall asleep. Your arms will likely relax as you drift off, which could make the baby tumble to the floor or roll into your loose clothing where they can’t breathe. Stand up and walk around to stay awake.
- No loose items around a sleeping baby. This includes stuffed animals and loose fitting material like blankets, pillows, swaddles, mattress sheets, or even the infant’s clothing.
- Back sleeping is always best. Always lay your baby flat on their back for the first year. Research has shown this greatly decreases the chance of suffocation and SIDS. Do not put them on their belly or side until they can roll over on their own.
- Firm mattress is a must. Don’t let your baby sleep on a couch, recliner chair, or any seats used to help them sit up. Use an approved and firm mattress with only a tight fitted sheet – nothing else in their sleeping area.
- Do not use crib bumper pads. These pads pose a suffocation risk if the baby were to roll into them or somehow pull the padding into the crib.
- Dress appropriately for the temperature. It’s recommended to only dress them in no more than one extra layer than what you are wearing. This is because they can’t sleep with blankets to keep them warm. During hot months, don’t over-dress them in multiple layers to make them overheat.
- Swaddle your newborn at night and nap time. Swaddling helps your baby feel comfortable and relax when sleeping since it mimics the tightness in the womb. It also prevents them from waking when experiencing involuntary muscle movements, which is common.
What accessories should you buy for a crib or bassinet?
It can be quite an intimidating selection process when buying a bassinet or crib. Along with these infant beds, you’ll want to pick up several items to go with them such as:
- Waterproof crib mattress
- Sheets (get an extra set)
- Waterproof mattress pad
- Soother devices (plays sounds, acts as a nightlight, or vibrates bassinet)
Some of these you’ll need from the moment you bring the baby home like the mattress and sheets, but the others can be purchased a few months down the road if you need them.
It’s important that we mention crib bumpers are not recommended by the AAP due to the potential for suffocation.
Pillows and blankets are also items that you should keep out of the crib for at least the first year and preferably longer until your baby knows how to use them.
Considering buying a used crib or bassinet?
We always recommend buying new since safe sleep standards are periodically updated, but we understand families experience financial hardships.
However, if you want to buy a used crib or bassinet, only buy from a reliable source (family, friends, or a trusted online resource).
To avoid potential safety hazards, look for a product that has no visible damage, such as scratches or cracks, and make sure that all the screws and brackets are secure. The mattress needs to fit snugly in the crib or bassinet and should have no visible stains or rips.
Finally, you should stay away from cribs or bassinets that are or look old. A baby product made just 5 years ago may no longer meet the CPSC safety requirements or it could have been recalled. It’s always a good idea to look up the brand and model to verify there have been no recalls.
Can you leave your baby to shower?
Of course, we all need to shower if we want to be around other human beings. However, you must first ensure the baby is in a safe and secure place like the bassinet or crib. You should also remove any loose items and make sure they can’t access anything outside of the crib while you’re in the shower.
So, should your newborn sleep in a crib or bassinet? This is a personal decision that mainly comes down to how much space you have in your bedroom to co-sleep for 6 to 12 months and how much you want to spend on baby bedding.
You’ll need to purchase a crib regardless since you can only use a bassinet for the first 6 months, so that’s an easy decision to make. However, a bassinet provides more flexibility, at a lower cost, so you can lay your baby down for a safe sleep anywhere.