Newborns may have a reputation for keeping their parents awake, but these fresh humans do need plenty of sleep to start off life healthily.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, your infant will spend about 16 hours of the day sleeping. It’s your job to make sure your baby has a safe and comfortable space to do that. The two most common sleeping choices for infants are cribs and bassinets, but how do you know which one is right for you?
We did some research so making the bassinet vs. crib choice is easier for you. Over the course of this article, we’ll talk about a few key elements important to newborn sleep and how they relate to both bassinets and cribs. Those include:
- Newborn safety.
- Newborn comfort.
- Longevity and value for your money.
First, let’s talk basics.
What’s A Bassinet, And What’s A Crib?
The most noticeable difference between these two baby sleepers is their size. Cribs are larger, making them suitable for babies between the ages of newborn to around 2 years old. Bassinets, the University of Rochester Medical Center tells us, are smaller and work best for newborns up until about four months old.
Cribs will come in a rectangular shape and feature barred or latticed sides. With younger and smaller babies in mind, bassinets come in a basket shape with shorter sides.
Both pieces use a variety of materials. Most cribs are made of wood. The more compact bassinet can come in wood, wicker, metal, or plastic. Each will include a mattress, so your baby is comfortable.
While cribs are always stationary, bassinets may come with the ability to gently rock or slide so you can soothe fussy infants. Many of them have a hood or cover.
Is There A Difference In Safety?
When used properly, both cribs and bassinets can be safe for babies.
No matter which piece you decide to purchase for your infant, please always follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines on safe sleeping for infants. Here are a few highlights from the academy’s website for you to remember:
- Always place your infant on his or her back when sleeping.
- Use a firm sleep surface without drop sides.
- Place your infant’s crib or bassinet in your room for the first six months to one year of your child’s life.
- Keep loose bedding and soft objects away from your child’s sleeping area to reduce the risk of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS) or suffocation.
- Check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission website before buying a product for your infant and make sure it meets all the right standards.
Bassinet’s Size Is A Win In Some Circumstances
The bassinet’s compact size will make it an easier fit for parents with a smaller bedroom. That’s ideal for safety considering the recommendation that your infant sleep in your bedroom with you.
If you pick out a stroller with a detachable bassinet, think twice before using that for bedtime. Manufacturers make strollers with the assumption that parents are monitoring them, so experts don’t recommend using the detachable bassinet at night.
When your child outgrows a bassinet, he or she will be safer in a crib with edges high enough to keep them contained overnight. Your baby will begin to feel uncomfortable in a bassinet when he or she reaches the weight limit of that product. Each will have its own limit, but it will usually be somewhere between 10 and 20 pounds.
Crib’s Higher Edges Will Benefit Your Baby
A crib’s higher walls mean your baby will have a harder time accidentally falling out overnight or climbing out when they’re big enough to do so. Some cribs have adjustable mattress heights, meaning that as your baby begins to grow, you can lower the mattress height, so your adventurous toddler-to-be has a taller barrier to cross when they feel like breaking out.
If you decide to go with a crib right from the start, make sure there aren’t any cutouts or spaces where your infant’s head or other limbs can get stuck. This is an important safety tip for babies of any age.
Pay attention to your baby’s clothing in bassinets and cribs – they can get too hot if overdressed. They’ll be happiest in an environment warm enough for an adult to wear one layer comfortably.
Following these guidelines when using your crib or bassinet will help keep your infant safe from SUIDS, which affected 3,600 babies in the U.S. in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Keeping You And Your Baby Comfortable
Now that we know babies are safe in both cribs and bassinets when used correctly let’s talk about comfort.
The bassinet vs. crib debate gets tricky here, as each has clear benefits for both parents and baby.
Bassinets Win For Coziness And Easy Transport
Newborn babies may feel small and exposed in the vast expanse of a crib, even if it is a safe place for them to sleep. Bassinets could be the right choice for a just-born baby who is accustomed to the close warmth of his or her mother’s womb.
Some bassinets can rock and glide so you can gently comfort your baby when he or she starts to cry, an especially convenient feature if the bassinet is placed next to your bed. Soothing your baby from the comfort of your own bed doesn’t have to be just a daydream.
The easily portable nature of a lightweight bassinet means you can take your infant along while you clean the house, read in the living room, or cook dinner in the kitchen. You’ll both appreciate the security this feature offers.
Mom and dad will also appreciate the shorter sides to the bassinet, as it makes lifting and lowering your baby into the basket easier on the back and arms. If this is your second child, a bassinet may also give you some transition time to move your first child out of the crib and into a child’s bed.
Cribs Win For Long-Term Routine
One benefit to choosing a crib right off the bat is that your infant will get used to his or her sleeping routine in that format earlier.
Your baby will end up sleeping in a crib at some point, as bassinets only last for the first four months of your child’s life. Starting off your baby in a crib is a sure way to skip any potential fussing over transitioning from bassinet to crib later in life.
Experts recommend slowly training your infant into being able to sleep in a room on his or her own by lingering in the room when you put your baby down for a nap. Once you and your baby accomplish this independent sleeping habit, there’s no need for the easy transport nature of the bassinet.
Invest Your Money Wisely
When it comes to the bassinet vs. crib discussion, there are many similarities in safety and comfort. There are fewer similarities in price.
Bassinets are much cheaper than cribs. New parents can purchase a bassinet for $100 or under, and that makes a huge difference for families who may be struggling financially. Cribs, depending on the brand and quality, can cost anywhere between $150 and upwards of $450. Mattresses often cost extra.
Have a conversation with your partner about which financial option is better for you. You may opt to buy the less expensive bassinet, even if that means having to buy a crib later. Paying less now could give you the opportunity to save up for the more expensive crib later.
Buying a crib outright will save cash in the long run, especially because some cribs can convert into toddler beds. That saves you from the financial burden of buying a child’s bed down the road.
In either scenario, buying quality pieces that meet all safety standards is a must. That’s still true even if it’s more expensive. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends checking to make sure nothing you’re buying for an infant has been recalled, and if you’re buying used, that all the parts are complete and in working order. Refrain from buying anything older than 10 years.
Take Time To Think About What You Need
There’s much to appreciate about both the bassinet and the crib. Take the time to speak with those who will be involved in your infant’s upbringing about which option suits you and baby best.
When talking it over, consider cost and where you want your infant to sleep when he or she first enters the world.
It’s an important decision, yes, but don’t worry – you have the information you need to make a decision that’s right for you.