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Hands-on Gear Review

Arm's Reach Mini Arc Co-Sleeper Review

The Arm's Reach is not only a great co-sleeper  it is also a superb freestanding bassinet for parents who do not wish to co-sleep with their infant. Despite the lower quality of materials  we did find it to be one sturdy piece of equipment.
Best Value Award
Price:   $150.00 List | $139.99 at Amazon - 7% off
Pros:  Affordable, versatile, portable, safe, great design
Cons:  Tricky assembly
Bottom line:  Great value, versatile, portable, safe, sturdy, convenient
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Arm's Reach

The Skinny

The Arm's Reach Mini Arc Co-Sleeper won our Best Value Award, because despite the lower price tag, it still gives prominence to structural integrity and safety, all the while allowing for the option to co-sleep or not. Though it did not come close to the level of material quality and safety of our Editors' Choice Award winner, the BabyBjörn Cradle, this is the product we would recommend to a friend on a tighter budget. It also packs up compactly, making it a viable option for parents who are on-the-go.

Update April 2017:
Arm's Reach has discontinued their Mini Arc Co-Sleeper and improved upon it with their Clear-Vue Co-Sleeper, to which we currently link. Like the Mini Arc, the Clear-Vue Co-Sleeper can be used as a freestanding bassinet, or you can place it next to the bed so you and your baby can sleep comfortably next to each other as a co-sleeper. It has better ventilation than prior versions for improved breathability which is a big plus. Dimensions and weight are comparable.


RELATED REVIEW: The Quest for the Best Bassinet


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD
Mom-in-Chief
BabyGearLab

Last Updated:
Sunday
January 25, 2015

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The concept of the Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper began with two parents who, perhaps like you, felt there was great benefit to be had in co-sleeping, but, (and we agree) did not feel that actual bed-sharing was appropriate. The end design was to provide a co-sleeping environment that was separate, yet kept them close by, or, within arm's reach.

We tested their Arm's Reach Mini Arc and were quite pleased overall. It features a lot of benefits, like portability, the ability to change from a co-sleeper to a freestanding bed, mesh sides, and storage underneath. If you are looking for a low-cost option, or if co-sleeping is an important factor in your decision, we believe you will be happy with this product.

Performance Comparison


The Arm's Reach is a great option for a parent on a tighter budget.  It can be used in both freestanding and co-sleeping modes.
The Arm's Reach is a great option for a parent on a tighter budget. It can be used in both freestanding and co-sleeping modes.

Health and Safety


If you care to use the Arm's Reach against your bed, you will be happy to know that it is designed structurally with safety in mind. Surrounded entirely by mesh, it fits flush against your bed with the included nylon strap and plate, assuring your little one's safety, all the while, keeping them as close to you as possible, without actually ever being in your bed. Furthermore, it holds the JPMA Certification, which assures high standards for product safety. While pretty much every unit we rated in this category pales in comparison to the BabyBjörn Cradle's materials, the Arm's Reach certainly holds its own in mechanical design and safety for your little one. We felt that the mattress in particular was of superior design, as it is extremely firm and even attaches to the base with velcro.

Ease of Use


There were many features that set it apart from the competitors, namely the fact that it can be used either freestanding, or safely as a co-sleeper. This option is particularly convenient, as some new parents may not intend to co-sleep, but then realize that in fact, it works better for them and their baby. The mesh pockets and storage underneath are an added bonus, creating a perfect place to store extra diapers, blankets and other supplies. The pockets are ideal for burp cloths or anything else you may want to have close by.
When adjusting the side bar either up or down in order to switch the mode from bassinet to co-sleeper or vise versa  simply pull the tap and lift up the plastic piece to reposition.
Both ends have mesh storage pockets which are convenient for storing smaller items such as burp cloths  extra diapers and small toys or books.
The bottom is well-designed for extra storage of things such as blankets or toys.  It is easily accessed with a zipper  and the bottom surface is hard and sturdy  allowing for a good amount of storage if needed.
 

It comes with two plastic feet and two wheels, and you can choose which end either go on. The wheels allow for easy portability from room to room. Unfortunately, this bed is a little too big and bulky to safely be moved up and down floors without two people, unlike the BabyBjörn Cradle, which is lightweight and small enough to be moved around much more easily.

One major downfall of the Arm's Reach is that there is no way to remove the lining, requiring the majority of the unit be washed via spot-cleaning. The convenience that a few of the others we rated had of being able to remove the lining entirely and throw it in the wash is huge considering the consumers of these products have new (and often messy) babies! The sheet however, does remove and is machine washable, but must be put in a wash bag (not included) in order to prevent the strong velcro from damaging anything else you wash it with.

Portability


Despite a steep learning curve, the Arm's Reach is designed beautifully for portability. If you follow the instructions closely, you will be able to break it down and wrap it up snug with its own mattress holding it together with the provided velcro straps. It then slides into the included nylon bag for easy transporting. Although a little heavy, we found it very impressive that it folds up so compactly, yet doesn't sacrifice safety, sturdiness, or versatility when in-use.

We felt the most frustrating part of assembling it was that the buttons on the side rails are covered by fabric, and are thus very difficult to press properly in order to disassemble it.
When packed up for storage or travel  it is no bigger then a step on a flight of stairs.
Two wheels lock into either end for added portability.
 

Quality


Although we found the structural quality to be higher than average, the quality of the actual materials is one area where this product suffers in comparison to others, including our Editors' Choice Award winner, the BabyBjörn Cradle. It's not that it's at risk of falling apart, as it is clearly designed to last a long time, but the materials used are more standard run-of-the-mill fabrics and plastics, which is apparent even in its appearance, which is not chic by any stretch of the imagination. Regardless, we still rated the Arm's Reach very highly for quality, as we feel chicness is hardly an important factor in comparison to durability.

Ease of Set-Up


Three words: save the instructions! Luckily, there is a pocket under the mattress intended for just that. If you closely follow the instructions, set-up and take down really isn't so bad. The first time, coming straight out of the box, there are many parts and a very specific order that must be followed for it to come together in one piece. If the instructions are followed, we feel that just about anybody can set it up, but the process is not intuitive, and may take a bit longer the first go-around.
The nylon strap and plastic plate that are provided assure that the bassinet will fit flush against your bed when used as a co-sleeper.
The clever design of the Arm's Reach uses the mattress to securely wrap around everything in order to fit it into the carrying bag.
The process of folding the Arm's Reach involves pressing release buttons on every side  both at the top and bottom.  It is important to do so in the correct order  or else it will not fold properly.
 

Best Applications


The nylon strap assures that the bassinet fits flush against your bed  keeping your little one safe  and allowing for easy access at nighttime.
The nylon strap assures that the bassinet fits flush against your bed, keeping your little one safe, and allowing for easy access at nighttime.
This was one of the most versatile bassinets in our review. It can be used either as a co-sleeper or a freestanding bassinet, and is the only one we tested that is designed and certified with both purposes in mind. Furthermore, since it breaks down so compactly, it is a great option to use while traveling by car, to take to the babysitter's house, or to keep if you are a grandparent who would like to have a safe space for your new grandchild to sleep, but prefer the option to pack it up when not in-use.

For new parents who are not sure how they feel about co-sleeping before their baby arrives, the Mini Arc Co-Sleeper is a nice option, as it can be adjusted to your preferred setting once you meet your new addition and learn what their personal sleep needs are.

Additionally, it is a valid option for a mother recovering from a C-Section, as it keeps baby safely close to mama's bedside, diminishing the need to get in and out of bed to tend to baby's needs. However, if you are planning to or have had a C-Section, we'd suggest the HALO Swivel Sleeper, over the Arm's Reach.

Value


If you take a look at our value chart, you will see that the Arm's Reach has a relatively low price in comparison to its high quality. As we mentioned, it's not as high quality as the BabyBjörn Cradle, but for parents on a tighter budget, it still features more benefits than most of the other cradles we rated.

Conclusion


For the lower price tag, the Arm's Reach Mini Arc Co-Sleeper is a fairly good option. Your little bundle will sleep safely whether you choose to have them bedside, or in another room entirely. It takes up such minimal space, you can easily store it between uses, or transport it on a road trip. This is the product we would recommend to a friend on a budget who is in the market for something for general use or a co-sleeper, which is why it won our Best Value Award.

Other Versions and Accessories


Arm's Reach also makes another bassinet called the Mini Arc Co-Sleeper Convertible which has many of the same functions as the original, but can later be used as a playard, allowing it to be used for a longer period of time.

Accessories:
  • The Mini Organic Cotton Sheets are $25. They are made from 100% organic cotton and designed specifically to fit any of the the Mini Arc Co-Sleeper bassinets.
  • The Mini Organic Mattress is made from a blend of latex naturally flame retardant wool, making the use of chemicals unnecessary. The outer cover is organic cotton, but it must be used with a fitted sheet.

Video


Juliet Spurrier, MD, Molly Hutto, & BabyGearLab Team

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Most recent review: January 25, 2015
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BabyGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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