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Hands-on Gear Review
Babyletto Bowery Review
Price: $129 List
Pros: Modern design, lightweight, converts to toy box
Cons: Cheap materials, noisy mattress, sheet not included
Bottom line: Despite eye-catching design, low quality materials, do not recommend
The babyletto Bowery has a sleek modern design that resembles a full-size crib, and once your baby has outgrown it, the top separates from the bottom to be used as a toy box. For many parents, we feel the modern design is likely a relief, as many bassinets are considered unsightly. However, after putting it through some rigorous testing, we felt that it was not as structurally sound as some of the others we tested. Read on for details.
RELATED: Our complete review of bassinets
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
The youngest company in this category, Babyletto was founded in 2010. The company prides itself on its mission to provide "safe, affordable, and Eco-friendly products to modern families," as stated on their website. We put the Bowery through rigorous testing against competing brands to see just how well it lived up to its mission, and while it is definitely affordable and offers a modern-appeal, if you are looking for high quality and the safest piece of gear possible, you may want to look elsewhere.
Health and Safety
Babyletto proudly uses some higher quality materials such as New Zealand Pine (same as Cariboo) and phthalate-free finishes, as well as sustainable practices to fabricate their merchandise, such as solar panels and recycling. The MDF board the mattress rests on complies with CARB Phase 2 standards which means a lower emission of formaldehyde for your baby. All of this is very good in regards to the safety of the materials. However, unlike any of the others we reviewed in this category, we found the structural safety of the unit was questionable, which is one of the main reasons it lost points under our health and safety rating. While it should be noted that no bassinet should be used past the time your baby begins to roll over on their own, we found that the base of the Bowery was not as sturdy as we'd prefer. Also, the mattress which is actually a "changing pad" and not a crib mattress, was not firm at all, and there were noticeable gaps between it and the side walls, which does not fall in-line with the extremely important ASTM standards which state the importance of a firm mattress and less than one inch of space between the mattress and bassinet walls. So, while the Bowery may be made with some cleaner materials and practices, it sacrificed structural safety, which we deem unacceptable for any baby product.
Furthermore, despite the attractive design, we prefer mesh siding in a bassinet to wood slats, even if they are within acceptable CPSC width limits of 2 3/8". It is our opinion, that bassinets should be designed with mesh instead of slats due to the age range of use, between newborn to 4-6 months, and their small surface area. At this age, babies have less strength to extricate themselves from a situation in which a limb could potentially be positioned through a slat, particularly if they are face down. To further promote safe sleeping, we invite you to read our article titled How to Protect Your Infant from SIDS and Other Causes of Sleep-related Deaths.
Ease of Use
The Bowery, once assembled, is a very basic unit. It is not designed to be moved around, but rather models a miniature version of a full-sized crib. The mattress pad provided makes a lot of noise when baby moves on it, which, if your baby is a light sleeper, may wake them up. One nice and unique feature is that once your baby has outgrown it, the top can be removed from the bottom and used as a toy box, which is a nice way to extend its use and value.
Although lightweight, it is not easily portable, as it does not fold up or come apart without removing hardware. Once the top is separated from the bottom however, it may fit in the trunk of a larger vehicle.
We were quickly unimpressed with the quality of the Bowery, as it arrived with several marks and scratches on the wood. Furthermore, the mattress is actually a changing pad as stated on its tag. This wouldn't be as big of a deal, except that mattress pads need to meet the strict ASTM guidelines, which this changing pad does not meet, as we noted above in our safety section.
Ease of Set-Up
This was the most difficult unit to assemble out of the box. Instructions must be followed extremely closely, and it is very easy to mix up different pieces. It should be noted that it would be more easily assembled with two people, rather than one.
It is surprisingly lightweight, however too large to easily move around from room to room. It would be best used freestanding, either as an extra place for your baby to sleep, or in your own bedroom. Once your baby has outgrown it, the legs may be removed, and the top used as a toy box.
Even with a lower price point, considering the not-so-great scores it received, the Bowery ended up being rated lowest on overall value compared to others we tested.
Although it offers a sleek, modern design, we just can't recommend the Bowery to a new parent because it didn't offer the same versatility, safety, or high quality that many of its contenders did.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD, Molly Hutto, and BabyGearLab Review Team
Most recent user review: January 25, 2015
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