What You Must Know About Bassinets and Cribs

Nursery decorating is exhilarating when your pre-baby nesting drive kicks in but is not so fun when you are confronted with the cost and the time commitment once you have your baby. Whereas diapers and burping clothes are at the forefront of your mind, ruffles, carpets, colors, and baby bassinets are not.

Speaking of baby bassinets- there is a raging debate as to whether bassinets or cribs are the way to go for baby safety, parental convenience, and sleep for both parties.

We’ll discuss the pros and cons of both and come to a conclusion as to which purchase is more necessary, more financially savvy, and better in the long run.

Both cribs and bassinets can be safe sleep choices for a newborn. However, they have several important differences.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPCS), a bassinet is defined as a “small bed designed primarily to provide sleeping accommodations for infants that is supported by freestanding legs, a stationary frame/stand, a wheeled base or a rocking base, or that can swing relative to a stationary base.”

Bassinets are great for nighttime feedings and keeping baby in your room, but they have a limited lifespan. Most can only be used until the baby is six months or can roll over on their own, whichever comes first. Cosleepers are popular bassinets that can be attached to your bed. They often have a drop-down side so the baby is almost in bed with you, but safely in their own space at the same time. Unlike a crib, these bassinets make nighttime feeding much easier and can help ease postpartum anxiety as your baby is always close by. These bassinets can sit alongside your bed or elsewhere in your room. Some popular bedside sleepers even swing over the bed to make picking up baby easier.

Many families prefer to have a portable bassinet or a Pack ‘n Play that also has a bassinet addition as well. A portable bassinet is helpful if your baby has overnights at grandma’s or if you want them to be able to nap in the living room or anywhere other than their nursery.

However, the main disadvantages of bassinets are cost and the fact that they can only be used safely during the newborn period.

According to the CPCS’s outlines, there are two different types of cribs: a full-size crib and a non-full size crib. The definition of a full-size crib, as outlined by the CPCS, is sleeping accommodation for an infant that has interior dimensions of 28 ± 5/8 inches (71 ± 1.6 centimeters) in width x 52 3/8 ± 5/8 inches (133 ± 1.6 centimeters) in length.

A non-full size crib, on the other hand, has the same function, purpose, and “look” of a crib, but is smaller in size. The official definition is 139.7 cm (55 in.) or smaller than 126.3 cm (49 3/4 in.), or an interior width dimension either greater than 77.7 cm (30 5/8 in.) or smaller than 64.3 cm (25 3/8 in.), or both. To be considered a crib, but not full-size, the crib must also meet one or all of the following requirements:

  1. It can fold or collapse without being taken apart so it is smaller when not being used
  2. It has hard sides and legs that can be removed
  3. It is circular, hexagonal, or some other non-standard crib shape
  4. It does not have any mesh, nets, or screens like a playpen

The only exception to the rule about the dimensions of a crib are hospital cribs, which can be designed differently to meet hospital regulations and accommodate equipment.

Many parents feel like they just want to skip the bassinet style sleepers altogether and go straight for the crib that can stay in the nursery for a couple of months/ years. While a completely empty crib with a fully flat mattress is a smart and safe choice, many parents quickly realize that walking even a few feet over to a crib multiple times a night can add exhaustion to the already tiring task of feeding and caring for baby overnight. Since most cribs can’t roll or be moved around easily, parents are also stuck with only one location to place their sleeping baby overnight. Finally, the crib can also just feel a bit big with a tiny newborn in it. Many parents feel a crib fits them and their lifestyle perfectly, but when in doubt, a bassinet (or one of its many variations) may be the best way to go.

Cribs, however, can be used for much longer, some even convert to toddler beds and can last for years. Bassinets have weight limits and usually can only be used for the first few months of baby’s life. Cribs are typically more expensive than bassinets as well, but since they last longer, the total investment is lower if you go straight to a crib.

Overall, it seems as though the crib purchase makes more fiscal sense in the long run. No matter how much you prefer your bassinet, you are still going to buy a baby crib. A bassinet can be skipped but whether you like it or not, you will end up with a crib in your nursery. Babies grow fast and before you even realize it your little one will no longer fit in his bassinet. Additionally, nowadays cribs can come fully equipped with wheels, easing transportation and making it easier to sleep next to baby at night then wheeling the crib back to the nursery during the day. A crib is essential, however if you choose to go with a bassinet before transitioning to a baby crib then that is perfectly fine as well!

Shoshi S.
Shoshi is a graduate from Stern College for Women in New York City. Her areas of interest include policy, non-profit organizations, and administration. During winter 2018, she was a White House intern. Shoshi has also interned at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and at Save the Children in New York. As a millennial, Shoshi brings a young and fresh perspective to the worlds of pregnancy and lactation.

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