In a world where products constantly evolve, certain tried and true products like bassinets never seem to change. In fact, chances are your mom used a bassinet to put you to bed and now you find yourself needing to do the same for your little one.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the reasons why a bassinet makes an excellent choice for your infant's first few months followed by the best bedside bassinet reviews.
Arm's Reach Concepts Cambria Co-Sleeper Bassinet
Delta Children Sweet Beginnings Bassinet
Chicco Lullago Travel Crib
HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Bassinet
What Are Bassinets?
Bassinets are smaller, often portable baby beds designed to take up less space than a crib. They are typically basket-shaped in imitation of the old-fashioned bassinets our parents used. But some come with a more modern look.
Unlike a crib, most bassinets are only intended for newborn use, not for infants through the first several years of life. Many parents use bassinets to keep their baby safe and to squeeze in as much sleep as possible during night wakings.
The small size of a bassinet makes them perfect to set up next to your bed, allowing you to easily transfer your newborn in and out of the bassinet during those notorious 3 AM feedings that you can't quite get your eyes all the way open for.
Our Bassinet Story
When we were shopping for our first baby's bed, our initial choice was a traditional crib. I remember the excitement we felt registering for the crib bedding. The colors were lovely, and the bedding was so soft. But you can imagine how horrified we were to later learn that all the extra crib bumpers and blankets actually put our baby at risk.
By then, we had had our baby and came to know that a bassinet was one of the safest ways for her to sleep by our bed rather than the crib in the other room (source).
Our first bassinet was a gift from my mom; it was one a friend was getting rid of at a time we were desperate for sleep, so we gladly snapped it up. But when our second baby came due, we knew we wanted a new one and took our time to research the best bedside bassinet.
What Are the Main Bassinet Features?
Bassinets come with a range of options. The basic ones tend to be basket-shaped, forming a cozy cocoon around your infant. If you've ever placed a baby in the middle of a regular-sized crib, you can appreciate the way a smaller bassinet keeps the baby from feeling lost in the middle of nowhere.
While basket-shaped bassinets are popular, another widely-used style of bassinet comes atop a typical pack n' play or playpen. This style allows you to remove the bassinet as your baby grows, making way for use of the play yard underneath. Since most bassinets can't be used beyond three or four months, this type means you get more use for your money.
Some styles of bassinets are pretty straightforward and simple; there's a flat surface for a baby to sleep on surrounded by walls of some sort. Others have a little more to them, like storage for diapers and wipes or a musical nightlight.
Many bassinets are designed to be portable and feature lightweight construction. These will occasionally be foldable as well, enabling you to pack it up into a bag and toss it in the trunk for travel like an air mattress, or simply move it around the house with you as you do laundry or cook dinner. Portable ones also frequently come with wheels that allow you to lock for stability when stationary.
Often, bassinets have retractable and adjustable hoods to keep light or movement from disturbing your infant's sleep. That said, some styles have coverings that don't retract, which can look really great but make it difficult to get your newborn in and out of bed depending on where you've placed the bassinet in your room.
Another common feature that bassinets have is the ability to adjust height or wall angles. This is especially helpful for moms who have had C-sections or other injuries during birth that make it difficult to bend over high crib sides. Some bassinets even attach to your bed for ease of access to your infant while providing a barrier that keeps the two of you separate and safe during heavy sleep.
Reasons Why You Should Get a Bassinet
As mentioned earlier, bassinets can allow parents to make room for their little ones next to their beds. Since standard-sized cribs may not fit in your room, the bassinet allows you to follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and keep your infant in your room for the first six months of his life (source).
Recent studies cited by the AAP suggest that sharing a room with your baby offers up to 60 percent more protection from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) than sleeping apart does (source). This is because room-sharing allows parents to stay alerted to changes in baby breathing or hear other signs of distress. Since a bassinet can fit easily next to your bed, this may be the best sleeping arrangement to allow both of you to sleep safely.
Ease of Access
You may also need a bassinet for the ease of access it can offer in the middle of the night. Many cribs have high crib walls that make it difficult to put your baby down or pick her up. Unlike bassinets, cribs also tend to be too high to reach your newborn from the bed and require getting up and out of bed to safely settle him. This can be especially difficult for new moms who suffered a birth injury or who underwent a C-section and have limited mobility.
Reasons Why You Should Not Get a Bassinet
You may not need a bassinet if your room is large enough to fit your baby's crib nearby. In fact, getting your baby used to sleeping in one place by using the crib right away can be a healthy sleep practice.
You may also not need a bassinet if your baby doesn't seem to mind the bigger sleeping area of a crib. Many infants are used to being enclosed in the close quarters of a womb and automatically recoil at having so much space around them in the crib while others don't seem to mind.
What Are the Advantages of Using a Bassinet?
As mentioned earlier, our first bassinet was a used one. It wasn't set up to travel well, and as a result, we ended up using a different type of bed when we went on trips with our firstborn.
She was a sensitive sleeper and being in a new environment really disturbed her sleep, which is one of the main reasons why we decided to buy a new bassinet when our second came along. For us, a big advantage the new bassinet offered was that our son could sleep in his same bed no matter how far from home we were, making him a better sleeper!
Another benefit that helped me with our son was the adjustable features of our new bassinet. I was able to change the height of the unit so that I could easily pick my baby up to nurse and put him back without bending over awkwardly. New parents know that when you're retrieving your baby four or five times a night to feed and change, the ease with which you can achieve this task is so important.
Bassinets have several other advantages to speak of: some come with rocking features for the baby who misses the soothing motion of being inside her mom's womb. Similarly, having the ability to move the hood around the bassinet to block out light during the day at naptime is a big plus.
Many bassinets even come with music machines to help drown out extraneous sounds. Also, you never have to worry about the width of the crib bars for fear of your baby getting stuck between them as bassinets normally include mesh sides for breathability.
What Are the Disadvantages of Using a Bassinet?
While the advantages of using a bassinet are sizeable, I do have some disadvantages to report. The one that sticks out the most is how quickly your baby outgrows them. The AAP suggests that you share a room with your infant the first six months of his life, yet many bassinets can't be used by a four or five-month-old baby due to the weight limits.
Another disadvantage of using a bassinet is that they aren't as stable or heavy as a crib. This means they may be easy to knock over if you have toddlers around, so it's important to pay attention to the sturdiness of the bassinets as you shop.
Some can also be difficult to set up correctly, which obviously can pose a hazard to your infant. For example, if you struggle to get one side to lock during set up, that side may be more at risk of collapsing due to appearing locked when it wasn't.
Another issue with bassinets is that finding good bedding for them can be tricky. You want sheets that are removable so you can wash them, but sheets must fit perfectly in order to keep your baby safe. With cribs, there are standard crib sheets that make it easy to buy extras, but bassinets don't come with standard-sized mattresses. This means the sheets that fit your particular bassinet may be more expensive than others or difficult to find.
How to Safely Use a Bassinet
Bassinets can be an excellent and safe place for your baby to sleep, but they aren't foolproof. Parents should still use caution when putting a baby to bed in one, and they should always put the baby to sleep on her back:
- Pay attention to the weight limits for the baby bed. While you can use some bassinets longer than the newborn stage, some have weight limits as low as fifteen pounds. Also, your baby may put the stability of the bassinet at risk once he starts to hit milestones like rolling over.
- As mentioned earlier, your sheets must perfectly fit your bassinet to be safe. This is to keep your baby from becoming entangled in extra fabric. The same reasoning applies to the rest of the bassinet's bedding: you really don't need any. Doctors tell us that extra blankets, pillows, bumpers and even stuffed animals present a suffocation risk for infants.
- Make sure the bassinet has a firm mattress. A soft or cushiony mattress may seem like the most comfortable sleep option for a newborn, but it's actually quite dangerous. Firm bedding reduces your infant's risk of SIDS (source).
- If your bassinet has a rocking feature, is mobile or has wheels, always double check that the rocking or wheels are locked before placing your baby inside. Keeping the bassinet stationary will reduce the risk of the bassinet tipping over or of rolling, especially as your baby gets bigger and more mobile.
- Always pay close attention to the sides of your baby's bed. Does it have slats or bars? If so, make sure those slats are close together and pose no risk of your baby getting caught in them. Similarly, if the sides are made of mesh or other material, check them for holes frequently to ensure your baby won't get tangled up or caught in one.
How to Choose the Best Bassinet for You
Reviews of the Best Bedside Bassinets
The Cambria Co-Sleeper is a beautiful, wood-ended bassinet that can fit right next to your bed. This bassinet is intended for infants up to about five months old or for babies who aren't pushing up yet.
One of our favorite features is the design of the Cambria, namely that you can attach it to your bed at night for ease of access and breastfeeding during night wakings. This design is especially helpful for women who have had C-sections as it makes breastfeeding easier. Moreover, the sides of the bassinet can fold down or all the way up and lock into place depending on how you'd like it set up.
The Cambria is made to fit adult beds that are 24 inches from the floor to the top of the mattress. Our mattress is about that height, and we found that when we folded down the side of the bassinet, it formed a small barrier to prevent our baby from rolling into our adult bed. But it was also very easy to pick our baby up from a reclined position.
Featuring mesh lining, this co-sleeper bassinet allows good air circulation as well as visibility, so you can see your infant through the sides. This means that your baby can also see you, which can help settle and soothe her when it's time to lay her down. It comes with wheels as well, which allows you to roll it around and keep your little one close.
Another simple feature that offers a ton of convenience is the extra storage on the bassinet. On either end, there are mesh storage pockets which are great for diapers and wipes or to keep a change of clothes or pajamas handy. The bassinet also comes with two baskets for storage under the bassinet, helping you make the best use of space. In fact, it may even be possible to keep most of what your baby needs right here in the bassinet!
Now, we noticed a few things that detract from the Arm's Reach Cambria Co-Sleeper. Probably our biggest complaint is the bassinet's mattress. While the mattress is firm, which is great according to AAP recommendations, it's very thin and flimsy and doesn't always lay flat. Some customers even resort to buying a thicker mattress to avoid doing unsafe things like inserting a pillow or wrapping the mattress in a blanket to thicken it up.
Another drawback is the construction of the Arm's Reach. The wood ends chip pretty easily and can get banged up. Along the same lines, we felt that the storage baskets that fit underneath the Cambria Co-Sleeper could be sturdier and not wear so quickly.
The BabyBjorn cradle is a JPMA Certified bassinet so you can rest assured that your baby will be safe. It has a low height, which means a low center of gravity for the cradle, making it stable and not easily knocked over. It's designed for newborns and babies up to about 17-18 pounds or six months.
The design of the BabyBjorn is simple. It's a deep, oval-shaped basket set a few feet off the ground by wooden legs that have steel feet for stability. The basket is made of lightweight, breathable mesh, enabling you to see your baby through the sides if necessary. Also, these mesh sides are important for when your little one scooches into the side of the cradle, as the fabric won't suffocate him.
Both the cradle's mesh sides and its waterproof mattress cover are washable. This removable fabric is great for when your baby spits up or has a dreaded diaper blowout. Let me tell you, it's much easier to remove the sides of the cradle to throw it in the wash than to have to scrub a mesh lining that you can't reach very well.
What BabyBjorn Cradle touts as its best feature is the rocking motion that can gently lull a baby to sleep. This is due to the spring suspension that allows it to rock in all directions, so you can rock and bounce the cradle or let the cradle respond to your baby's movements. But note that the rocking motion isn't mechanized.
Another thing customers point out is that the rocking is a very gentle swaying rather than a full-on rock. This type of rocking is a fairly natural pattern that responds to your baby's movements or your own. That said, we noticed that this swaying can also produce a startled reflex in an infant.
The BabyBjorn Cradle manufacturer also suggests buying a sheer canopy as an accessory for this bassinet. This canopy looks fantastic when it's set up, and you can draw it all the way around the bassinet to help filter light and keep your baby quiet. But for the price of the bassinet, we think the canopy should be included.
While the cradle comes with a mattress and mattress cover, a fitted sheet sells separately and can be expensive. We didn't try this ourselves, but some customers instead bought oval bassinet sheets for a fairly good fit.
Finally, this bassinet only weighs about 13 pounds, which makes it lightweight enough to pick up and move easily. It's also pretty small and compact, which means that many average-sized babies will outgrow it quicker than the supposed six month age limit.
The Delta Children Sweet Beginnings Bassinet is sweet indeed; it's a crib with a look that will make many who catch sight of it say, "Oh, how darling!" Small and compact, with a lovely patterned bed skirt and retractable, removable canopy cover, the Delta Children bassinet is ideal for infants up to about 15 pounds, which puts it on the smaller side.
The Sweet Beginnings bassinet is one of the lightest baby beds on this list, weighing in at just 10.5 pounds. It comes with casters that lock for additional mobility, and its light weight makes a great choice for a mom who's been told not to carry more than 15 pounds around with her. You can pick it up easily or roll it close to your bed for easy newborn access at night.
The bassinet is an oval-shaped basket set on a lightweight frame. It comes with a canopy that you can adjust to filter or block out light or that you can remove altogether. Opposite the canopy is a small music module that includes pre-loaded lullabies to play to your baby as well as a soft nightlight to help soothe her. It requires three double-A batteries to operate.
While the nightlight is a nice, calming feature, the music choices for the lullabies aren't the best. The module also doesn't allow you to adjust the volume of the music, so many users report that they wound up not using it because they found it too loud or just didn't like the music.
The light, however, is an excellent feature for parents to take advantage of during middle-of-the-night feedings. It's bright enough to see by, but not too bright to disturb your natural sleep cycles.
The Sweet Beginnings bassinet comes with a thin mattress and removable sheet. The bassinet's fabric is also removable and washable but most users recommend spot cleaning it. The sides of the bassinet feature mesh sections for breathability when your little one sleeps close to the side. That said, the bed skirt isn't removable, so it doesn't offer transparency for easy supervision of your baby.
Unlike some more expensive options on this list, we really like that this bassinet comes with a fabric storage basket on the bottom, which is perfect for small blankets or diapers and wipes. The basket has a small divider to make it easier to toss some extra clothes or baby accessories down there and keep things separate.
While we love most things about this bassinet, we have two complaints. First, despite being fairly easy to assemble, the bassinet is a little shaky initially. It turns out that you'll likely have to do some additional tightening to improve its sturdiness. The other thing we wish was different about this crib concerns the sheets: they aren't very soft, and they don't feel great on your skin.
The Chicco Lullago Travel Crib is a bassinet that's larger than some of the others on this list. But at approximately half the size of a traditional play yard, this travel crib is also space saving and easy to travel with. This means that it still takes up less space next to your bed than a crib, plus it's much easier to transport than a traditional playpen.
As a larger item, this bassinet accommodates babies up to 20 pounds, which is more than most. This means the sheets for the mattress aren't a standard size, so finding extra sheets can be difficult. Unlike other bassinets on this list, the Chicco Lullago also doesn't come with a waterproof sheet, which is a definite downside when it's already difficult to find a good-fitting sheet.
The Chicco is meant for travel, and so it's designed to easily set up and take down. The canvas bag has a handle to allow you to carry it on your shoulder. But at 17 pounds, some may find it too heavy to carry that way for long.
The bassinet cover and sides are removable and machine washable. There's a section of the fabric near the "head" of the crib that's made from mesh fabric for breathability. But we're disappointed that this section isn't larger as babies often scoot to the sides of their cribs. We feel the more mesh, the more breathable it is for your little one.
The bottom of this bassinet is softer than others on this list, causing the foldable mattress pad to crease. This can make it difficult for the mattress to lay flat and can create an uneven sleeping surface.
Chicco Lullago Travel Crib will also move with your baby if she moves while sleeping. While this can be soothing for some infants, others will startle at the movement and may not sleep as soundly.
Overall, we feel that given the price tag, the Chicco Lullago is similar to the higher-priced Baby Bjorn Cradle with the added benefit of a travel bag. Thus, we think it's a good buy despite some design downsides.
The HALO Bassinet Swivel Sleeper is an ideal choice for C-section moms or those with little space in their bedrooms. This bassinet is designed for babies up to 20 pounds or ones who aren't pushing up yet.
There are two main design features that set the HALO apart from others in this roundup. First, it comes with a heavy, sturdy, four-point base. This ensures the bassinet is stable and won't be easily knocked down by a clamoring brother or sister. On the flipside, its sturdy four-point base makes it quite heavy and can make moving the bassinet difficult.
Also, the base makes it easy to tuck under your bed at night to save space. But if it doesn't fit all the way, you could end up knocking your feet against it by accident.
The second feature that sets the HALO apart is its swivel and rotation design. While the bassinet can be moved closer to you while you're in bed, you can also rotate it out of the way to make getting in and out easier. This is a great option for C-section or birth-injured moms who have trouble scooting around on the bed.
Customers have noted that rotating the bassinet can make the sleeping surface tilt slightly, which can be a problem for babies that suffer from reflux. The mattress is also very hard and creased in the middle, which can make the sleeping surface a bit uneven.
The HALO can adjust to fit the height of your bed so long as it's between 22 and 34 inches. This means you can swivel it to fit just on top of your mattress so your baby is within arm's reach. Another adjustable feature is the side wall, which can lower for easy access to your baby while you recline. This is helpful for parents who can't bend over high walls to pick their baby up.
In this roundup of best bedside bassinets, a clear winner has emerged with the Arm's Reach Concepts Cambria Co-Sleeper Bassinet. It offers the best of everything, not to mention extra features like storage for a relatively affordable price. Like the HALO Bassinet, the Arm's Reach makes co-sleeping easy, but its lightweight construction and portability outshine HALO in terms of product flexibility.
Overall, the Cambria Bassinet can offer parents a wider range of use than other bassinets while still being ideal for parents who need portability, ease of access or safe co-sleeping arrangements.
Now Over to You!
What are your thoughts about our choices for the best bedside bassinets? Do you have any questions that we haven't addressed? Leave your comments below!