Many parents choose bassinets as they have a wide variety of practical advantages over cribs and other types of sleepers.
Often they have smaller designs and are portable, allowing you to easily set them up and place them at your bedside. For this reason, they have become a popular option for parents that want to share a room with their baby, which is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) (1).
Yet like every other sleeping method, it’s important to be aware of the potential hazards of using a bassinet. Only by adopting key safety guidelines can you be confident that you are providing the safest sleeping arrangement possible.
Bassinet Safety Tips
In general, cribs are preferred as they have a longer lifespan than bassinets. They have also been in use much longer than bassinets and as a result, more studies have been carried out that support their safety.
However, many parents that want to adopt bedside sleeping simply do not have the space available in their room for a crib and use a bassinet instead. In such cases, here are some helpful safety considerations to bear in mind.
Ensure the Bassinet Holds a CPC Certificate
One way to ensure you are investing in a safer bassinet or bedside sleeper is to ensure it holds a children’s product certificate (CPC), as is recommended by the AAP. This is a certificate awarded to bassinet manufacturers who successfully meet a set of safety requirements overseen by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Always Buy New Bassinets
Although you may like the traditional appeal of an antique or older style bassinet, it’s important to realize that they may not meet all of the current safety standards. The same goes for hand me down bassinets and bedside sleepers.
Even bassinets made in recent years might not meet the most recent changes, so it’s always advised to buy as new as possible Therefore make sure you check the date of manufacture which can usually be found on the packaging and the product itself.
Lock the Wheels When Not in Use
Bassinets are portable thanks to their lightweight designs and wheels that allow you to easily move them around the room and re-position them with ease. However, it’s important to only ever have the wheels unlocked when you are actively using them.
Once you have finished the maneuver, make sure to lock them and double check that they locked. This is even more important if you are located near to a staircase, balcony or another potential hazard.
Use a Firm Sleep Surface
It’s important to maintain a safe sleeping environment for your baby and so only ever use the mattress, pads and fitted sheets provided by the manufacturer. Therefore, ensure you have spare sheets available for use between wash cycles and never be tempted to use substitutes.
Choose a Bassinet with Mesh Walls
It is recommended that babies be placed on their backs to sleep, both during the night and for daytime naps. Although, some babies have a tendency to roll around onto their stomach and onto the sides of the bassinet or sleeper.
Therefore, bedside sleepers with mesh walls are advised since they provide increased airflow. This means that if your baby does find themselves rolling onto their side there breathing will not be as restricted as it would be with a solid fabric wall.
Mesh walls also allow you to easily keep an eye on your baby while they are sleeping. For these reasons, the majority of bassinets today feature mesh walls.
Keep the Bassinet Free of Objects
As with any type of sleeper, it is advised to create a safe sleeping environment, which in line with the AAP means keeping the bassinet free of all potential strangulation and suffocation hazards.
This means the bassinet should be free of toys, pillows, bumpers, blankets, and sheets, as well as any other object that could pose a risk.
What if Your Baby is Cold?
If your baby is cold you can practice swaddling, although it’s important to ensure you are doing it in a safe manner. This means your baby should always be on their back and the swaddle should not be wrapped too tightly.
Follow the Manufacturers Set-up Instructions
It’s essential that you adhere to the manufacturer’s set-up instructions and user guidelines that come with your bassinet.
This is the only way to ensure you have correctly positioned the straps and other components to make sure the bassinet does not collapse during use or that your baby does not fall between gaps that should have been orientated in the correct way.
Equally, ensure you read the user guidelines as they will outline how to correctly move, position and clean the components and provide other important information.
If your bassinet is a hand me down or you no longer have the manufacturer’s instructions you can sometimes find them online from the official manufacturer’s website. Otherwise, you should not use it.
Check if the Bassinet was Recalled by the CPSC
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) can recall any type of children’s product like bassinets and side sleepers in the event that a possible safety concern is suspected.
Therefore, in the event that you are thinking about borrowing a bassinet or using an older bassinet, it’s a good idea to check if it is in on the CPSC’s recall list. If so, you should not use it.
If you discover the bassinet you purchased is on the recall list, you can take it back to the store you bought it from to request a refund, ideally with a receipt.
How Long Can You Use a Bassinet For?
There is no perfect answer to this question since all babies develop and grow at different rates. However, the majority of babies typically outgrow their bassinets by around 4 months of age.
At this point, you will need to transition them from their bassinet to a full-sized crib. The simple reason for this is that once your baby is too big for the bassinet it will no longer be safe.
Bassinets are small in terms of depth and also have small side walls. This means that once your baby begins to move around and stand up, they can rock and are at an increased risk of falling out of them meaning they are potentially dangerous places for them to be.