Bassinet vs Crib
If you’re like many expectant parents, you may be completely overwhelmed by the many choices you have to make, which include choosing a suitable sleeping option for your little one.
Bassinets and cribs are both great options. But, how do you know which one is best for your family?
In this article, we’re going to make a detailed comparison between a bassinet and crib and tell you everything you need to know so you can make an informed choice.
What is a bassinet?
A bassinet is a small bed specifically designed for newborns up to about four months olds. They usually have a light design with mesh or fabric walls and can easily be moved around the house.
Bassinets come in a variety of styles, some with hoods, drapes, lowering walls, and storage compartments. Over the years, manufacturers have also added useful features such as vibrations, sounds, rocking, and lights.
Since bassinets rise to the waist level, many parents find them easier to use. They are a great solution for moms who have had a C-section, as they don’t have to lean over the sides to place the baby down or pick them up.
What is a crib?
The simplest definition of a crib is a small baby bed with high sides, usually slatted to keep the baby from falling out. They are a great option for containing toddlers and can be used for many years.
Types of cribs
If you are looking for a crib, there are many types of designs, sizes, and shapes to choose from. Here is a breakdown of the different types of cribs we have in the market to make it easier to tell which one best suits your needs.
- Regular Crib
This is a sturdy, stationary crib with four fixed sides and does not convert. They are simple in design with no extra features like storage or rolling wheels but effective for the purpose and easier to set up than other types.
In this category, you can choose a full-size crib or mini crib. A full-size crib has standard internal dimensions of 52 3⁄8 ± 5⁄8 inches in length by 28 ± 5⁄8 inches in width. Mini cribs have smaller measurements than those of full size, with most being 38 inches long and 24 inches wide. The height of both models is usually the same.
The full-size crib is the best option if you are looking for a sleeping space that your child can use longer, while a mini crib is a better choice if you have limited space. Most children outgrow a mini crib in the first year but can remain in the full-size crib for up to four years.
- Convertible crib
These types of cribs grow with your child from newborn to toddler bed and some into a full-size adult bed depending on the model you choose. These cribs become a valuable investment as you don’t need to keep buying beds over the years as your child grows. However, you will need to buy additional parts for conversion into a toddler bed or full-size bed, which is still cheaper in the long run.
- Combination crib (combo cribs)
Combo cribs are convertible cribs that integrate other pieces of furniture into their design, such as a changing table or storage drawers underneath. These cribs are great solutions for people with limited space and also save money.
- Portable Crib
These types of cribs stand on wheels to allow easy mobility around the house. Although portable cribs are available in both full and mini sizes, it’s mostly the mini-size cribs that usually have wheels.
These are the lightest cribs, usually designed for travel. They are smaller than Pack n play and fold down compactly for easy storage in the suitcase or backpack. Though the cribs are light, their legs are angled wide and the mattress is placed on the floor, ensuring stability and safety.
- Rectangle, Round, and Oval cribs
Most cribs are rectangular, but round and oval cribs are also available and are considered modern and stylish. The disadvantage of these non-standard shapes is that they are more expensive and take up more space. In addition, their mattresses and sheets are not easy to find and also cost more than regular ones.
Comparison table of bassinet vs cribs
Below is a quick comparison of different features of the bassinet and crib
|Footprint Dimensions||76 x 40 cm/ 30 x 16 inches||132 x 71 cm/ 52 x 28 inches|
|Longevity||From birth to 4 months||birth to 3 or 4 years|
|Portability||Have a lightweight design and most also wheels to move around the home||Heavy and bulky, not easy to move. Only few have wheels and are still challenging to move room to room|
|Convertibility||Most are not convertible but some can be transformed to a playard or changing table||Some convert to toddler bed, twin size, and full size bed.|
|Safety||Safe, but can be knocked over||Very sturdy and safe|
|Comfort||Very cozy for newborns||Can feel too large for a newborn|
|Extra features||Some bassinets have vibrations, sounds, lights, rocking movements, canopies, and storage compartments||Some cribs have storage drawers underneath. Others have a changing table.|
|Average Prices||$50 -$150||$170 -$450 and above|
- The small sleeping space feels cozier for newborns than cribs which are too large
- Lightweight and easily portable around the house
- Sits high, easy to lay the baby down and pick them up without bending
- They have a small footprint hence suitable for room sharing
- Can fit in small living spaces
- Can many useful features such as music, lights, canopies, storage pockets
- Less expensive than a crib
- Can only be used for the first few months
- Because of the high center of gravity and light design, they can tip over
- Very sturdy with no risk of tipping, unlike some bassinets
- Can be used for longer, even several years depending on its convertibility
- Available in a wide range of styles, shapes, sizes, and finishes
- Heavy, not designed to be moved around
- May not fit in small bedrooms
- Have complicated assembly
- They are generally more expensive
You ask, which one does the AAP recommend? And the answer is that the American Association of Pediatrics does not offer parents recommendations as to whether to choose a crib or bassinet. However, they advise parents to choose either a freestanding crib or bassinet for their baby and to stay away from co-sleepers or any other type of sleeping device that attaches to their bed.
Here is the full list of safe sleep practices that AAP recommends to parents to ensure safety for their babies:
- Sleep in the same room with your baby until at least six months of age
- Always lay your baby down on their back, never sideways or face down
- Do not sleep with the baby in your bed or while holding him in any other position such as in a chair.
- Ensure there are no loose items like beddings, blankets, toys, or clothing- the sleeping area should be bare.
- Do not use crib bumpers
What about research? Over the years, studies have been carried out to find out which is safer between cribs and bassinets. One of the studies discovered that bassinets may have a higher risk than cribs because of the way they are designed. If there is a malfunction, it can contribute to the death of an infant.
A 2008 study published in the Journal of Pediatrics analyzed the risk factors of 53 infants who had passed away in bassinets in the years between 1990 and 2004. It was discovered that 85% of the deaths were linked to suffocation, asphyxiation, or anoxia, while 9.4% of the deaths resulted from SIDS.
The study also showed that there was a huge number of unsafe sleep practices, which also contributed to the death of the infants. It records that 37% of babies were laid face down for sleep and 74% had soft beddings with them inside the bassinet. However, in 17% of the cases, the study concluded that specific mechanical problems with the bassinets caused infant deaths.
Although the study did not conclude that bassinets should stop being used or banned, it recommended that parents always ensure that the bassinet they choose is functioning properly and take extra care to avoid putting any items in the bassinet.
Which one is safer: bassinet or crib?
Both bassinet and crib are considered safe options by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). However, each has its own safety standards that you should adhere to, to ensure safe sleep for your baby.
It’s best to buy a new bassinet or crib to ensure that it meets current safety standards. Old bassinets or cribs may have parts that are broken or loose, posing a risk to your baby’s safety, so as much as possible; try to buy a new one. The Consumer Product Safety Commission advises parents not to use any baby crib or bassinet that has been modified in any way or is more than ten years old.
If a second-hand bassinet or crib is the only option you have, you can check for recalls to ensure that it meets the current safety regulations.
Is it better to get a crib or bassinet?
There is no straight answer to this question as it largely depends on personal preference and factors such as ease of use, comfort, available space, budget, family lifestyle, etc.
A bassinet will make a better choice if you don’t have much space since they are generally smaller than cribs. However, you may also consider a mini crib because they are designed for small rooms.
A bassinet usually has an adjustable height that matches your bed height and is thus easier for a mom to use after delivery without straining as opposed to a crib where she would have to lean in and bend down every time she puts the baby down and picks the baby up. Some bassinets also have features such as music, vibrations, and nightlight that can help soothe the baby to sleep.
In terms of comfort, both have comfortable mattresses, but the bassinet may be cozier for a newborn because it provides a snug feeling like the one they are used to in the womb. A crib may feel too sparse.
Bassinets generally are used only for up to about four months, so you will still need a crib later on. You want to consider this fact before you buy. You may find that it may be best for you to buy only a crib and stick with it or decide to buy a bassinet and later a crib, depending on how you have structured your budget.
Evaluate these factors and see which option is best for your family.
How long can baby sleep in a bassinet vs crib?
A bassinet offers a safe place for newborns to sleep for up to four months. Once the baby starts to roll over or sit up, the bassinet becomes unsafe. On the other hand, a crib offers a larger sleeping space and can accommodate your child up to three to four years of age.
Can a newborn sleep in a crib right away?
Yes, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a baby should sleep in the parent’s bedroom until they are six months in a crib or bassinet.
I am Ashley Davis, a mom of three kids and the editor here at MotherhoodHQ (formerly 10BabyGear). I have been a parent since 2011 and have been doing full-time consulting as a baby sleep expert since 2019. When I am not researching or testing the next baby gear hitting the market, you’ll find me teaching my toddlers a trick or two – especially over the last few months with the lockdown. I hope you’ll find my guides and reviews helpful as you make your next purchase decision. If you have any questions, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.