What to Consider When Choosing a Bassinet
Before my baby was born, I didn’t plan to purchase a bassinet. The baby book I bought said it was a good idea to have my baby sleep in his crib from the start. I thought a bassinet would just take up unnecessary space and wouldn’t be used after the first few months anyway.
My grandmother offered me an heirloom bassinet, the same one my mother and I had slept in. It was gorgeous, made of real wood, but totally unsafe and impractical. I respectfully declined.
When I first tried to lay my little one down in his crib, he looked so tiny on that big mattress. Plus I had to bend down too far to lay him in the crib and my awkward movements would often wake him up. Luckily my mom ignored my initial protests and bought us a brand-new bassinet. I ended up using the bassinet for the first few months until he transitioned to his crib.
Why a bassinet makes things easier
My son woke frequently during the night to eat. It was so much easier to have his bassinet next to my bed than needing to navigate through our dark house to his nursery. Bassinets are also helpful for mothers recovering from a C-section because it is a safe co-sleeping arrangement. Sleeping with your baby in bed with you puts him at a great risk for SIDS, so a bassinet allows him to be within arm’s reach without putting him in danger.
There are many other benefits to using a bassinet for your newborn. Bassinets normally stand waist high, so you can easily place your baby inside. Some bassinets may rock, vibrate, or play music which can help babies go to sleep and stay asleep during the night. Many trusted baby furniture brands sell all-in-one furniture, so the bassinet may come with a diaper changing station and attach to a play pen.
It is best to buy a new bassinet or one produced in the last few years to make sure it is compliant with current safety standards. It is important to read the assembly instructions carefully to correctly set up the bassinet. You don’t want the bassinet to collapse with your baby inside. The base or stand should always remain on a flat surface when in use. The bassinet needs a sturdy lock or latch if it can be removed from the base. Make sure that it is always properly attached before placing your baby inside. Some bassinet models have a safety light that alerts you when improperly attached(“Requirements for bassinets and cradles”).
Bassinets should come with a thin mattress. Even though this may be uncomfortable for your baby, it is the best idea to reduce the chance of SIDS. Some portable bassinets come with a segmented mattress for easy folding. If your bassinet has one of these mattresses, beware of a potential seam created after unfolding that can become a suffocation risk(“Safety Standard for Bassinets and Cradles”).
Most bassinets have mesh sides. This safety feature allows your baby to breathe if they accidentally move to the edge of the bassinet and their face presses against the side. Some bassinets are completely mesh, which also helps you to see baby from your bed without sitting up and peering into the bassinet.
Bassinets should also conform to safety standards such as the height of the sides, the bassinet’s flammability, and the use of paint, lead, and phthalate in plastic parts. A bassinet with a Children’s Product Certificate will prove that your bassinet meets all safety requirements (“Bassinets and Cradles”).
For the full list of the safety standards to which bassinets are measured, the ASTM F2194-13 standards include all safety requirements.
The standard size for a bassinet is 15-18 wide” by 36 long” (“Cradle Vs. Bassinet”). A minimalist bassinet will be approximately this length and width. Models with extra features may be larger in total size, but for the most part the mattress area will fit these measurements.
Size also varies depending if the bassinet is stationary or portable. Stationary bassinets will be heavier and may be larger, especially if they are an all-in-one convertible model. If your bassinet is portable, it may be smaller or will break down or fold to a smaller, easier to carry item.
My son’s bassinet is standard size and has wheels for portability, but it is still awkward to get through door frames. Comparing sizes in store or online will save you from this problem if you have to maneuver the bassinet in small spaces.
Best Practices for Use
If your bassinet comes with a card to fill out and mail in to the supplier, then take a few moments to do so. If the supplier has your contact information and the model number, they will let you know if the bassinet ends up on a recall list (“Safe Sleep”).
Using a Wedge for Colic and Reflux
Only use the supplied mattress and make sure there are no gaps if using a sleep positioner. If your baby suffers from colic, like mine did, a bassinet wedge will help elevate his head. Make sure you follow all instructions for setting up the wedge. The wedge belongs under the mattress and should fit the bassinet correctly so there are no crevices your baby could slip into during the night.
Normally a small amount of elevation is all that is needed for relief from acid reflux or colic, so the wedge doesn’t need to be very high. A lower wedge is still effective for reducing symptoms and lessens the risk of your baby sliding down to the end of the bassinet during the night. Also make sure you position baby on his back when using any positioners, as laying a baby on his side increases the risk of SIDS.
A Note on Mobiles
If your bassinet comes with a cute mobile, make sure it is out of baby’s reach. If your baby is able to reach any of the mobile parts, remove them right away so your baby doesn’t accidentally choke or suffocate on the pieces. When your baby is able to roll over or reaches the maximum weight capacity, then you should no longer use his bassinet. You don’t want your baby to accidentally roll out of the bassinet and onto the floor.
A bassinet is a great way to keep your baby close and safe at night even if it is only used for the first few months of an infant’s life.
“16 CFR 1218.2 – Requirements for bassinets and cradles.” Cornell Law School,
www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/16/1218.2. Accessed 29 Oct 2017.
“Bassinets and Cradles.” U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission,
www.cpsc.gov/Regulations-Laws–Standards/Rulemaking/Final-and-Proposed-Rules/Bassinets. Accessed 29 Oct 2017.
“Cradle Vs. Bassinet.” Livestrong, www.livestrong.com/article/124399-cradle-vs.-bassinet.
Accessed 29 Oct 2017.
“Safe Sleep: Bedding, Pillows, Safety and More.” CPSC Stands for Safety,
Accessed 29 Oct 2017.
“Safety Standard for Bassinets and Cradles.” Federal Register,
www.federalregister.gov/documents/2013/10/23/2013-24203/safety-standard-for-bassinets-and-cradles. Accessed 29 Oct 2017.