Bassinet or Crib? The Pros and Cons of Each

Updated March 26, 2019


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Choosing a comfortable, safe and convenient place for your baby to sleep is one of the most vital decisions to make when choosing appropriate furniture for your nursery.

Newborns tend to sleep a lot! They typically spend, on average, 16 hours a day asleep, mostly only being awake to be fed. So that means they’ll be spending a lot of their time in the crib or bassinet you choose, so it’s a pretty big decision to make.

But when it comes down to it, which would be the better choice, a bassinet or crib? What are the key differences between the two? And is it ok for a newborn to be sleeping in a crib right away?

Here is a quick comparison between the two:

Cribs:

Bassinets:

Long Lasting Small
Can be Converted Portable
Safest Option Affordable
Good Value for Money Extra Features

Bassinet vs Crib: The Key Differences

Difference in Size

The most obvious and major distinction between the two is size. Cribs are often much larger than bassinets and hence take up a lot more space and are heavier.

If you have a small master bedroom or one that’s crammed with furniture and other assorted stuff (as many of us do), you’ll have a lot easier time fitting a bassinet in there.

It’s certainly worth noting that both cribs and bassinets have many different designs, some more minimal and compact than others by sacrificing extra features and storage space. So in terms of size, there’s more than likely going to be a choice that suits your space requirements, whether you opt for a crib or bassinet.

Even though space is a massive deciding factor, it is not the be-all and end-all, as cribs and bassinets have many other pros and cons that can tilt your decision one way or the other, depending on your unique situation. With that said, let’s continue with the major comparisons.

Portability

A bassinet, being much smaller and lighter than a crib, is much more portable. They are a lot quicker and easier to set up than a crib and can be carried from room to room or even taken down and set up in another location pretty easily.

You don’t have this luxury with a crib as they can take a little bit of time to get set up and it’s just not convenient to uninstall them and set them up again in another location. It’s something that’s only done when you really have to, like when your child has grown out of it or you’re having a change of rooms.

Some bassinet models can have wheels too, making it even easier for you to reposition them and move them between rooms.

Lifespan

Bassinets usually have weight limits and due to this and their size, they can only be used for the first few months of a baby’s life. Cribs, on the other hand, can often be used all the way through their infancy.

Additionally, some cribs come with the ability to be converted into a toddler bed when your child is ready for toddler bed transition which is not only convenient but can save you money in the long run.

Convenience

Even though having the ability of some cribs to transform into a toddler bed is highly convenient, this is only for that one big event when your child hits that milestone.

Bassinets grant you a lot more convenience on an everyday basis, especially when it comes to you being able to access your baby easily when they wake up for a feed in the middle of the night. It’s much easier to get to your baby, especially with a co-sleeper bassinet.

Bassinets can also include extra storage pockets and pull down hoods to make your baby feel cozier and more secure instead of overwhelmed by the view of a large room which may make them feel alone if they wake up at night.

On the other hand, cribs give you the option of attaching toys and accessories such as baby crib soothers and light show projectors which can comfort and soothe your little one back to sleep if they do happen to wake up during the night.

Value for Money

Bassinets are generally more affordable than cribs. And even though a bassinet can only be used for a short period of time, it affords you more time to buy a crib as opposed to having to buy everything before the baby arrives.

This is great and all, but since a baby will outgrow the bassinet in a matter of months, the crib is much better value for money as it can be used for a longer period of time. Especially if it transforms into a toddler bed for the bed transition in a few years time.

Cribs are also built from wood and so are much more durable, so even though they may be a bit less convenient to uninstall, they can be reused again and again. So if you decide to have another little one in the future, or resell it, or donate it to a friend, you can get more use from a crib than a bassinet over time.

Can a Newborn Sleep in a Crib Right Away?

Can a Newborn Sleep in a Crib Right Away

Parents often ask if it’s ok for a newborn to be sleeping in a crib right away. The short answer is yes, as long as you follow the recommendations of the AAP – which is that the crib is in the same room as the parent.

If you have a nursery ready complete with a crib but it’s in a  separate room, even if the room is only a short space away, it’s a good idea to move the crib or bassinet into your bedroom for now.

It’s true that the baby, and the parents for that matter, get better sleep when the baby is in their own room. But according to Claire McCarthy, MD, of Harvard Health Publishing, the frequent awakening that occurs with room sharing may be exactly what reduces the risk of SIDS and it also ensures your baby isn’t forgoing feedings. (3)

In summary, if you have the room for a crib in the master bedroom, it’s absolutely your choice based on the comparisons you have already read in this article whether you want your baby to start off in a bassinet or go straight to crib, but ensure they are in the same room as you.

When Should a Baby Sleep in a Crib in Their Own Room?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both recommend sharing a room with children during their infancy (first six months to ideally a year old) in response to studies which shows the practice reduces the occurrence of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)(1)(2).

However, a study published by the AAP in 2017 has revealed that evicting the baby before their first year makes them better independent sleepers. It resulted in them more soundly for longer durations of time (4).

Still, as previously mentioned the main objective of the APP is to minimize the risk of SIDS and that’s the stance we would take here too. In that case, it’s best to stick to the AAP guidelines until further studies have been completed (1).

When to Move Baby from a Bassinet to a Crib

If you are siding with starting out with a bassinet or already have your baby in a bassinet and their starting to wake themselves up by bumping into the sides or kicking the bottom it’s a good idea to think about when it would be best to move them to a crib.

Your baby is safe to stay in a bassinet even at 6 months if they haven’t yet outgrown it and they don’t go over the weight requirements of the model you have chosen. If you are thinking of sticking with a bassinet, for now, look for ones with greater weight limits to get longer usage. Although, beyond the age of 6 months, you probably won’t find many.

In any case, if your baby is rolling around in their sleep, able to sit up or their legs are starting to touch the bottom of the bassinet it’s a good time to transfer them to a crib.

It’s also a good time if you’re all starting to feel a bit cramped in one room. Getting rid of the bassinet and having the baby sleep that little bit further away will allow you all a bit more space to sleep peacefully.

Newborn Bassinet Safety

To conclude this article, we will run over some good advice and bassinet safety considerations for those of you who are opting for the bassinet.

Compared to cribs, bassinets are relatively new to the market and a sufficient amount of studies have not been done to prove that they are 100%. However, the AAP does recommend bassinets as a room sharing option so long as they meet the standards set by the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) (5).

Bedside Sleeper Certifications

Bassinet products that meet all of the requirements set by the CPSC are qualified for a CPC certificate. So when shopping for a bassinet or any bedside sleeper for that matter, ensure that they are certified by the CPSC so that you know they meet safety standards.

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) are another regulatory body that provides certifications for infant products when their standards and product requirements are met. Holding this certification is another indication that a product has undergone strict testing and meets a standard deeming them as safe to use.

Safe Sleep Practice

For the prevention of SIDS, parents must be aware of the precautions they should take such as:

  • Ensuring the baby sleeps flat on their back
  • Avoid sleeping in semi-reclined positions such as a rock n play
  • Avoid soft bedding material, loose pillows, and stuffed animals in the baby’s sleeping space
  • Ensure the bassinet is in good condition and secure
  • Practice safe swaddling

References

  1. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/Study-More-Research-is-Needed-About-Room-Sharing-Effects-On-Infant-Sleep-Sids-Prevention.aspx
  2. https://www.cpsc.gov/Business–Manufacturing/Business-Education/Business-Guidance/Bedside-Sleepers/
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-pros-and-cons-of-having-your-baby-sleep-in-your-room-2017060611855
  4. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2017/06/01/peds.2017-0122

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