Best Bassinet Review
Best Overall Co-Sleeper
Arm's Reach Clear-Vue Co-Sleeper
The Arm's Reach Clear-Vue Co-Sleeper creates a safe co-sleeping environment that keeps your baby within "arm's reach" on their own sleep surface while you stay cozy in your bed. The walls of the Clear-Vue are primarily composed of a breathable mesh but have a few fabric panels around the edges and corners. Based on our testing, we feel that the Clear-Vue has the best sleeping surface in this review. We like that the lining on this product is machine-washable and that wheels on each leg allow for easy transport from room to room. The Clear-Vue Co-Sleeper is an economical product with impressive test results, and we think any family looking for a basic co-sleeper will be very satisfied with this option.
Compared to its competitors, the Arm's Reach is a bit primitive, lacking in a stylish design and exciting features. However, its in-home transportability, sturdy build, and usefulness more than compensate for it and, thus, shines in this round-up as a versatile, economical choice.
Read review: Arm's Reach Clear-Vue Co-Sleeper
Quality Co-Sleeper at a Premium Price
babybay Bedside Sleeper
The babybay Bedside Sleeper is a top of the line, thoughtfully designed bedside co-sleeper with a minimalistic yet beautiful vibe. This product attaches directly to your bed with height adjustability for a perfect fit with a sleeping area for the baby that is easy to access while mom is in bed. The babybay Classic Comfort Mattress Pad with Cotton Cover that comes with the bundle fits the sleeper's frame well, but there are many mattress options from which to choose to customize your decision-making. The sides are absent of fabric create a breathable environment for the baby with a very similar feel to a crib thanks to the wooden slats. Overall, the babybay is a sturdy, durable sleeping environment for a newborn that will fit in with any nursery decor or design.
While this option isn't budget-friendly perse, we think that it is a standout heirloom-style option that is guaranteed to be well-loved and used through the long haul to welcome new members of the family.
Read review: babybay Bedside Sleeper
Ideal for Post-Cesarean Section Moms
HALO Bassinest Essentia
The HALO Bassinest Essentia is a niche product that is perfect for post-cesarean section moms. It has a unique swiveling feature that allows you to adjust the position directly over or away from the bed. It also has a dipping side rail making it easier for mom to access baby. Its breathable mesh sides and natural swaying are a nod to comfort and soothing for baby. It is a well-constructed product with high-quality parts and a sturdy base.
The HALO is massively heavy and not designed to move from room-to-room, so if you are looking for portability, this is not a good option. Also, the base is quite large and can stick out depending upon its position, so use caution to avoid tripping over its legs. Despite its heft and footprint, we feel this is an excellent option for those who desire to keep baby within reach of mom while she is in bed, particularly after recovering from cesarean.
Read review: HALO Bassinest Essentia
Best Bang for the Buck
Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go Bassinet
The Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go is a versatile powerhouse for sleep and play. This budget-friendly travel crib comes standard with the Pack 'n Play making it useful from newborn to toddlerhood. It is easy to move from room to room with two wheels, and it comes with a toy bar and a storage bag.
While the Graco is heavy, large, and harder to use, its price point and versatility for use as both a bassinet, playpen, and travel crib are hard to beat. And while it does not fit the criteria for a bedside co-sleeper, it can be positioned near the bedside for infant monitoring. And, with wheels on one side, it covers shorter distances with ease. One thing we will note is that Graco brand Pack 'n Plays tend to have a strong odor to them out of the box, so if you notice this, we strongly recommend off-gassing the product in a garage or such before use with baby.
Read review: Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go Bassinet
Stylish Free Standing Cradle
The BabyBjorn Cradle is a free-standing wooden framed sleeper with very high-quality materials, including full mesh sidewalls giving it 360-degree breathability. The Cradle is lightweight and can be moved quite easily by lifting and carrying the whole thing en masse, though not as easy as more portable, wheeled options. Nonetheless, it fits the bill for parents who want to keep baby nearby in every room. Machine-washable components also give BabyBjorn an upper hand in eas-of-use.
For those on a tight budget, the Bjorn Cradle may not be an option, particularly considering it has such a short lifespan of use. However, we think parents looking for a stylish, free-standing cradle with a little bounce to it will like the look and gain great peace of mind with the full surround, breathable mesh. There is also an accessory BabyBjorn Canopy for Cradle if you want to dress it up a bit more and create a little shading and coziness for baby.
Read review: BabyBjorn Cradle
Best for Long-term Use
The Lotus Bassinet is available either as an accessory purchase in Guava's Crib-to-Bassinet Conversion Kit or as a bundle purchase with Guava's Lotus Everywhere travel crib. Either way, the bassinet only functions if you have the Lotus Travel Crib frame, raising the overall cost. We appreciate the full mesh siding for maximum breathability as well as low VOC and no use of flame retardants in this product. It also has a rocking cradle feature that clicks into the bottoms of the travel crib's legs. It is light enough to move easily around the house and folds down into a small bundle for travel. All in all, it's a great versatile package that can take a baby from newborn to toddlerhood and double as a travel crib.
As mentioned, you must have the travel crib to use the bassinet feature; you can not buy the two separately. It is convenient to have the entire bundle; however, if you have your eye on a different travel crib, the Lotus may not be the best option for you. Nonetheless, this is a high-quality item with thoughtful attention to details that matter.
Read review: Lotus Bassinet
UPPAbaby Bassinet and Stand
The UPPAbaby Bassinet and Stand is a product that converts from a stroller attachment to a standalone at-home sleep solution in early infancy. It goes from stroller to bassinet by merely clicking it out of the stroller frame and into the stationary UPPAbaby Stand. While this multitasking innovation feels like a no-brainer, we have some reservations about a few of the design elements. Because it is intended for strolling in the outdoors, it understandably includes fabric sides that block the wind and other weather hazards from reaching the baby while walking. The unfortunate outcome of this is that the sidewalls aren't as breathable as the competition that has in-home, regular, overnight use in mind.
We are hesitant to use this product, as the design has similarities in common with items identified as potential SIDS risks (crib bumpers). While fine for strolling use during continued supervision, UPPAbaby's attempt to increase the versatility of this product by selling a compatible in-home stand fails, in our opinion, to consider adequate breathability in the side materials. The potential for impaired breathability makes the UPPAbaby product notably disappointing for us. It makes it a product we do not recommend for use as a regular at-home sleep product.
Read review: UPPAbaby Bassinet and Stand
Co-sleeping in Parent's Bed
BabyGearLab does not recommend the use of ANY in bed co-sleeping device designed for use in the parent's bed. Studies show co-sleeping is unsafe. For safe sleep, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommends that babies be placed on their back, in their own sleep space, on a firm, tight-fitting mattress with only a fitted sheet and no other bedding or items included in the sleeping area. These items include, but are not limited to, pillows, blankets, crib bumpers, sleep positioners, stuffed animals, and toys, etc. In our opinion, and the opinion of sleep experts, the DockATot and other sleep devices designed for use in a parent's bed for co-sleeping carry certain dangers, and we do not recommend them.
We Don't Recommend the DockATot Co-sleeper
One example of an "in-bed" style of co-sleeper is the DockATot. It is for use within the parent's bed or around the house as a "monitored" sleep device for your baby. The actual intended purpose of this product is somewhat vague, depending on which part of the company website you read and how much effort you put into determining the product's intended use. DockATot appears to be a device for sleeping with your little one in the same bed, as outlined in the company's message on co-sleeping. This arrangement is potentially as dangerous as sleeping with your baby without the DockATot, something not recommended by the AAP as it increases the risk of SIDS and other potential injuries or complications. The DockaTot website even states, "The American Academy of Pediatrics has determined that the safest place for a baby to sleep during the first year of life is in a crib, bassinet or play yard in the parents' bedroom." From rolling over onto your baby or bedding/pillows falling over baby's face, there are multiple dangers involved with having a baby sleep in your bed.
DockaTot recently updated its website and removed some of the vague and conflicting statements that used to appear there. While this makes it clearer what the intended uses for the product are, it is now even more concerning because it is now clearly marketed as a safer alternative to sleeping with baby in your bed with no additional device. Using this product in your bed, with or without bedding and pillows, will conflict with the safety standards outlined by the AAP, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and the FDA. We suspect the majority considering the DockATot are not aware of this strict recommendation.
In our opinion, in-bed co-sleepers, and the DockATot specifically are NOT safe sleeping options for babies if the adults are asleep or could potentially fall asleep while supervising.
Jump to: Buying Advice for Bassinets
Why You Should Trust Us
Our analysis of the best bassinets was completed by a team of experienced moms, dads, and caregivers. Leading the product selection process and guiding our testing metrics is BabyGearLab founder and board-rtceified pediatrician, Dr. Juliet Spurrier. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and mother of two, Dr. Spurrier is highly conscious and knowledgable of best practices for infant sleep. Senior Review Analyst and father of 7, Bob Wofford, did the hands-on work for this review, measuring, weighing and researching each bassinet individually and comparing the results. Senior Review Editor, Wendy Schmitz is a mother of 2 and has brought a scientific product analysis perspective to the BabyGearLab team since 2014. She has evaluated thousands of baby products during that time, including categories such as travel cribs, crib mattresses, and bassinets.
We complete research and measurements for this category in-house at BabyGearLab, and additional time is spent testing the sleepers with a little one in a personal home. We go in-depth into manufacturer information to parse out the materials and examine the overall eco and baby health considerations. We measure mattress thicknesses, assess stability and safety, and carefully inspect each bassinet for quality construction. We even perform some EMF testing for smart sleepers. Our testing enables us to examine every feature and functionality to select the top bassinets on the market.
Jump to: How We Tested Bassinets
Analysis and Test Results
Babies sleep a lot, but they also frequently wake up in the middle of the night for feedings and diapers changes. Today's parents have a multitude of options when it comes to sleeping accommodations, and more parents are opting for products that keep their babies in the same room or within reach of their bed. This arrangement allows you to keep an eye on your newborn and meet their needs with less disruption in your sleep patterns. If keeping baby nearby for bonding or easier nighttime feedings is something you are interested in, then finding a free-standing option or co-sleeper that attaches to your bed may be the key to getting a better night's sleep.
Can you get by without this kind of gear? Sure. However, in the end, we believe it is very convenient to keep baby close at hand for peace of mind, bonding, and restful sleep. This type of gear provides a compact, safe, and secure environment for your baby while meeting your grander goals.
Read on to see what else we learned about the products we tested and which options we think would be a much-appreciated addition to your life.
We completed our in-depth, hands-on testing to assess how each product performed during day-to-day use. We then compared all options in our lab in side-by-side testing a variety of metrics designed to determine which products are the best and why.
While the price of a quality product can be high, and in some cases, greater than an ordinary crib, we do think this kind of gear serves a purpose and can feel invaluable if it increases sleep for you or your baby. The product that offers the most for the price is the Editors' Choice winner, the Arm's Reach Clear-Vue Co-Sleeper. It provides a versatile sleeper that can function as a standalone bed or a sidecar co-sleeper. This product is easy to use, has a firm sleep surface, and is better quality at an affordable price. This option should last through multiple children, and you can often resell it to recoup some of the cost, making it an even better value.
Ease of Use
When testing ease of use, we consider the features and functionality of each product and how they will impact daily use. Many of the options earned similar scores in this metric but had different strong suits. This one metric includes multiple factors, so you know what exactly we considered when testing for ease of use.
Accessibility tests how much work goes into retrieving baby. How easy is it to get baby in and out of the sleeping area when you're in bed? How easy is it from a standing position? Some options are designed for use while you remain lying down. Others are free-standing and require either sitting up or getting out of bed.
The HALO Bassinest Essentia earned the best results for this test with a swiveling sleep area, adjustable height, and a sidewall that dips down effortlessly so you can reach in to pick up your baby or offer comfort. The Arm's Reach Clear-Vue Co-Sleeper and the babybay Bedside Sleeper also provide great accessibility by attaching directly to the side of your bed and being height adjustable. Both have lower sidewalls that allow you to reach over the side to comfort little ones easily. The hardest options to get baby into and out of are the free-standing Graco Pack 'n Play on the Go and the Chicco Lullago.
There are two aspects of mobility. First, you must consider how easy it is to move the product from room to room, so you can keep your baby nearby no matter where you are. The second aspect is how well it travels outside the home. Because bassinets are not generally designed for travel, only a few options were handy in this area, and most of these were crossover products that are travel cribs by design, such as the Lotus and the Graco Pack 'n Play on the Go.
Any product that has a wood frame or substantial base is not suitable for travel. Examples of this include the BabyBjorn Cradle, HALO Bassinest Essentia, and the Snoo Smart Sleeper.
Some of the products we tested come with additional features that either add convenience or versatility. None of the products lost favor for not offering additional functionality, but some had features that make using them easier and thereby increases their overall score in this metric. Some of these features include height adjustability, wheels, travel crib capabilities, flexible sidewalls, and soothing vibrations, lullabies, or sounds. The top-performing products often have moving sides and height adjustability, but they didn't need the extra bells and whistles to outperform the competition. The HALO Bassinest Essentia and Arm's Reach Clear-Vue Co-Sleeper both have a moving sidewall that greatly increases their convenience. The lower scoring Delta Children Deluxe Sweet Beginnings has a soothing center with vibration and sounds that can act as a sound machine for baby.
Only a handful of the products in our tests are machine washable, and only a few were hand washable. Most are wipe or spot clean only, which isn't that convenient with a baby inside who may explode at any minute from either end. Both the Arm's Reach Clear-Vue Co-Sleeper and the Snoo Smart Sleeper have machine washable linings and mattress sheets, and the fabric on the Baby Bjorn Cradle, UPPAbaby, and the Lotus are also machine washable.
To measure breathability, we considered the sidewalls that surround the sleeping area. Can a baby breathe through the material? Could some of the components impair the baby's breathing? Is there a design choice that could allow a baby to scoot into a position that inhibits their ability to breathe? Most of the products have mesh sides with sections of solid fabric panels. Mesh is the most breathable material, depending on the tightness of the weave, and the more mesh that in a design, the higher the score for breathability. Breathability is also highly dependant on the location and thickness of the fabric panels found in mesh/fabric designs. Bassinets with wooden slats are an alternative option. Be sure to choose a product without a fabric surround that can mimic crib bumpers (a product the American Academy of Pediatrics has advised you don't use to avoid a potential SIDS risk).
The babybay Bedside Sleeper and the Snoo Smart Sleeper are some of the high scorers of the group. The babybay has a wooden slat design similar to that of a traditional crib and offers excellent breathability due to the open spaces and lack of fabric that could cover a baby's nose and mouth. The attached swaddle sack on the Snoo keeps baby in the center of the mattress and on their back, eliminating any risk of baby's face getting pressed up against the mesh fabric. The BabyBjorn Cradle, HALO Bassinest Essentia, and the Fisher-Price Soothing Motions all have very breathable mesh and few stretches of solid material.
The Delta Children Deluxe Sweet Beginnings is an option we don't care for, as it has fabric sides similar to a crib bumper and is not very breathable. The UPPAbaby is the worst with a padded inner liner and canvas-covered exterior sidewalls that severely impair a baby's ability to breathe.
A good safe sleep surface is one of the key metrics. We examine the functionality of the mattress by looking at mattress compression, how well it fits in the frame, and overall stability. This metric is also where we flag any potential safety issues related to the design of the mattress or sleep area.
The Arm's Reach Clear-Vue Co-Sleeper and the Snoo Smart Sleeper both earned high scores for sleep surface, and the HALO Bassinest Essentia also earned an above-average rating, albeit slightly lower than the other two. All three have suitable sleeping surfaces with limited compression and minimal movement within the frame. The Lotus and the Fisher-Price Soothing Motions earned some of the lowest scores for these tests due to compression and fit problems.
Not all products are created equal. With a variety of material options and construction methods, there is quite a range when it comes to quality. Some products have a clear quality advantage over others and maybe a much more appealing addition to your home.
The highest scoring options for this metric are the babybay Bedside Sleeper, the Snoo Smart Sleeper, and the HALO Bassinest Essentia all three of which will withstand long-term use through multiple children. Their sturdy construction and close attention to detail make them enjoyable to use. There are very few design elements that we would change in these products, and all three stand out in the crowd of options we tested.
The Delta Children Deluxe Sweet is anything but deluxe. It earned one of the lowest scores for quality with a design that is reminiscent of a child's toy for a doll, not a sturdy sleeping bed for a real baby. This product has a flimsy frame with tiny wheels, and it has significant flex and movement when you push on the top rails.
To assess eco-health, we consider the materials of each product and how easy it is to determine the manufacturing process. We place greater importance on materials that come into direct contact with your baby. For some brands, determining the materials is easy. They offer a transparent look at their products and provide information on what, if any, chemicals they use. Unfortunately, not all of the manufacturers are open with this information. Finding information for some of the products proved difficult, and for many, we had to resort to emailing the company to ensure the accuracy of information. Very few of them responded.
If a company uses organic materials, has a chemical-free product, or has any certifications, they usually like to toot their own horn and let you know about it. In other words, if it is there, it will likely be easy to find. If a company does not offer any transparency in regards to their manufacturing process, we assume that they only meet required safety standards and do not provide any additional eco-benefits.
None of the bassinets scored very well for eco-health, in large part because they all use some form of polyurethane foam in their mattresses. Despite the claim that some are low VOC, hypo-allergenic, GreenGuard Certified, or Oeko-Tex® certified, they are all remarkably similar. We feel that many of the descriptors are primarily an attempt to "green-wash" a product and make parents feel warm and fuzzy. In reality, many of these terms mean virtually nothing as many descriptors have no industry agreed-upon definition.
If any part of your new product has a "new" or offensive smell, we highly recommend allowing it to off-gas in a well-ventilated space for several days or until the smell subsides before using it. While this doesn't mean it is no longer emitting VOCs, it will limit exposure to some of the stronger initial emissions.
babybay Bedside Sleeper earned one of the highest scores for eco-health. This result is in large part thanks to their Oeko-Tex® certification, use of organic cotton, beechwood, non-toxic materials, and the fact that they offer (purchase separately) a completely natural mattress with no polyurethane (though we bought the Classic mattress which is polyurethane foam). We like that this sleeper doesn't include toxic glues, cheap fillers, plastics, or other harmful chemicals, and all the materials have Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Class 1 certification. The Lotus is another top scorer as it has been tested as low VOC and is free of PVC, lead, phthalates, formaldehyde, and heavy metals (Cadmium, Arsenic, Mercury, etc.).
Several of the lower-ranking products include the Graco Pack n Play On The Go, Graco Dream Suite, Fisher-Price Soothing Motions, and Chicco Lullago. These manufacturers choose to offer little or no information concerning what the products contain, but all have a polyurethane mattress that potentially uses chemical flame retardants.
Because the Snoo is unique and works with your Wi-Fi and smart device, it also emits EMF. While the amount of EMF we recorded during testing is on the lower side, it is still more than the other bassinets (which have none) and is something we think parents should consider before purchasing the Snoo. If your little one doesn't sleep well and needs more soothing to stay asleep, it may be a level you find acceptable. Still, we prefer to limit or avoid exposing babies to EMF whenever possible, and we wish the design of Snoo included an EMF-free setting. Keep in mind that even though the EMF is low, it is higher by the power button, and your little one will experience exposure to EMF elsewhere in your home, which potentially has an accumulative effect over time.
We've been testing bassinets for a decade, the bassinet we've tested underwent months of testing side-by-side to determine which options were top performers in metrics such as ease of use, breathability, sleeping surface, quality, and eco-health. The information we discovered can help you make the best decision about which bassinet to purchase and if you need a bassinet at all.
Why Purchase a Bassinet?
While bassinets are not a must-have item for babyhood, we do think they have their place and can often make the first months of babyhood easier on parents and baby. They can increase the opportunity for bonding and sleep while potentially decreasing the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by keeping the baby in the same room with you at night. There are a variety of bassinet choices but the benefits to including one of any kind in your baby gear list can provide peace of mind by keeping baby close at night so you can see them and tend to their needs, with as little disruption to your sleep as possible. Also, studies indicate that sleeping in the same room with your baby can potentially decrease SIDs, while theories abound on why this is, we feel the why is less important than the belief that it does.
Here are some common reasons you may want to consider adding a bassinet to your gear list:
- You are interested in having baby sleep in your room or next to your bed
- You are interested in co-sleeping with your baby
- You desire a portable bed that you can move from room to room to keep baby nearby during their early days
- Your baby's birth did or may include a C-Section keeping baby nearby will help aid healing
Types of Bassinets
Products of this kind come in three basic flavors with some crossover that several could fall into making them a little more versatile.
The co-sleeper developed as a response to parent's desire to sleep with their baby but who also feared the possibility of injury or death that has been reported with bed sharing. Co-sleepers usually attach to the master bed or sit close enough that their design allows them to swing or sit directly next to the side of the bed. This bassinet style is theoretically designed to allow parents to reach and attend to the baby without getting out of bed. This means you can potentially soothe and feed your baby in the middle of the night without getting up. We like that you can touch your baby, and even pick them up for nursing without getting up and walking around your house. It's a great way to sleep with baby without putting them in your bed where injury could occur.
This style is usually larger or designed to stand away from the crib on its own. While you can place some of them next to your bed, their design often prohibits reaching baby or truly taking care of them without getting up. You can usually see them so you can ensure they are sleeping and not in distress, but you'll need to get out of bed to offer anything more. Often this type can be moved from room to room and some even have 2 or 4 wheels for easier transport.
=Travel Crib with Bassinent=
Sometimes travel cribs come with a bassinet attachment or you can purchase a bassinet as an accessory. This transforms the crib or play yard into a safe place for baby to sleep in their early months. These accessories usually have a weight limit or limit based on when the baby reaches certain developmental milestones. The benefit of this tyle is it extends the life of your travel crib and makes it more versatile because it can go on travel with you and the baby is already used to sleeping in it. Depending on your goals or needs, this can be a good solution, especially for parents who travel frequently or rely on others for baby care.
Important Details to Consider
The designs and features of these products are about as varied as the lifestyles they cater to. Regardless of your lifestyle, however, there are a few considerations that are important for every family to consider, no matter which option they decide to purchase.
Breathability and Sleep Surface
Two important metrics and design features we think make a big difference in the overall safety of this kind of product are breathability and the sleep surface included with the product both how well it fits the frame and how well it can support the baby and prevent any kind of accidental entrapment.
The safest products are designed with wood slats (like a crib) and mesh walls that provide proper air-flow for safe breathing for your little one, especially if they manage to get their face into a position where it is pressed up against a side wall. Several of the products we tested did NOT have all-around breathable sides which left us concerned that they could impair a baby's breathing should they snuggle up to the side wall. In fact, a few are very similar to a crib bumper that experts agree should not be in a baby's sleeping area due to a potential SIDs risk.
The UPPAbaby Bassinet and Stand has padded side walls covered in canvas. We feel this product is not suitable for unmonitored overnight sleeping because the sidewalls are built to protect baby from the wind while strolling and are, therefore, not air permeable or breathable.
We found a common complaint about bassinets to be that the mattresses are too thin or firm. However, there is a reason for this. ASTM standards state that a bassinet mattress "must be less than an inch thick and the mattress should be firm." The guidelines are proven to reduce the risk of SIDS and have been chosen for this reason. We strongly recommend you never alter, tamper, or change the mattress that comes with the bassinet. The mattresses should fit the sleeping area without significant gaps or movement around the pad. The pad shouldn't compress too much or result in a low spot when a baby is sleeping on it. The mattress should be firm to support the baby and should be designed to avoid their mouth and nose from becoming obstructed.
Many crib and cradle mattresses rest on MDF boards(a manufactured wood similar to plywood), which are controversial since MDF does emit formaldehyde. If this concerns you, look for a product that meets the CARB Phase 2 criteria (many do not), which ensures that it emits an extremely low level of formaldehyde, similar to the amount that is emitted by trees, and therefore, not considered a threat to babies. If you still have concerns, we recommend you avoid the BabyBjorn Cradle as it uses a CARB Phase 2 MDF board under the mattress, which hurt its eco-health score in our tests.
Depending on how you plan to use your bassinet you need to think about whether or not it is mobile enough to move around your house and/or whether or not you can easily pack it up and take it on the road. If you are looking for a stationary co-sleeper that you'll leave attached to the bed then it won't matter as much. But if you travel a lot or plan to have your childcare giver use the bed away from your home, then it will matter more.
Even if a bassinet has four wheels and you won't be moving it very far, you should never move a bassinet with your baby inside. Accidents and mishaps can occur while moving that could potentially result in injury or death. It is safest to move the baby from the bed to a safe location and move the empty bed with both hands.
Size and Weight
Size and weight are pretty important, depending on your intended use. If you plan to move it from room to room as an extra space for baby, then weight matters, and believe us, having a product that is really huge and clunky will be a major inconvenience.
The footprint or size also matters because it can limit where you use it, especially if your home is small. A few other things to consider: will you need to move it over stairs? How wide are your doorways and halls? Are there awkward turns you'll need to negotiate? The weights in this review range from around 9 lbs to over 33 lbs. The high-ranking BabyBjorn Cradle is 12.1 lbs, while the HALO Bassinest Essentia is a whopping 33 lbs thanks to a metal stand and frame.
How do you decide which bassinet is right for your family?
With so many potential options it can be difficult to know what kind to get or how you plan to use it. Friends and family may step in and suggest you get a particular kind or specific model, but depending on your parenting goals their suggestions may be nice, but potential useless. Here are some simple steps to break down the decision making process into one or two potential options that could be a good fit for your family.
Step 1: How will you use it?
This is a crucial question because it will cut your options virtually in half. If you plan to co-sleep with your baby, then you have a few options that will work well and keep your baby close by and within reach. While some co-sleepers can be used as freestanding options, most freestanding bassinets make poor co-sleepers. If moving the baby's bed from room to room or from house to house is more important to you, then the size and portability will play more of a factor in your decision-making process.
The babybay Bedside Sleeper is an excellent co-sleeper that attaches to your bed and is height adjustable for a good fit for most beds. However, purchased alone it cannot be used as a stand-alone bassinet. You need to buy a conversion kit to turn it into a freestanding product. The Arm's Reach Clear-Vue Co-Sleeper also attaches to the bed but the side can be lowered or raised for a free-standing bassinet if you want to move it to another location. The HALO Bassinest Essentia doesn't attach to the bed, but it can swing over your bed with a side that dips for easy access to the baby. This makes it a unique co-sleeper that works well as a freestanding option.
If you are interested in co-sleeping with your newborn, it is imperative that you do so safely. Bed-sharing is never a safe option. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics says simply, "Bed-sharing is not recommended for any babies." Luckily, companies are designing innovative solutions for sleeping closely and safely next to your little one. This is where a co-sleeper comes into play. Traditional co-sleepers are designed to attach to the side of your bed as a sort of "extended" sleep area, a space just for baby away from possible hazards like sheets, thick blankets, and human bodies.
Step 2: Do you want to move it?
If you plan to move your bed from room to room you'll need an option that is lightweight or potentially has wheels. Large and heavy products will make regular movement difficult and a hassle unless they have wheels. Smaller and lighter is easier, but wheels can make a huge difference in ease of movement. If you plan to set it and forget, then the weight is less of an issue. If you need to use it in a home other than your own, then you'll want to choose a product that can pack up and be transported easily.
The Arm's Reach Clear-Vue Co-Sleeper has four wheels and a narrow width making it the easiest to move from place to place, even through narrow doorways. Its moveable sidewall also makes it good as a co-sleeper or freestanding option. Alternatively, the babybay Bedside Sleeper is heavy, larger, and doesn't have wheels. It also has a lower side wall so it can't be safely used as a standalone without an additional accessory. The HALO Bassinest Essentia is also hard to move because it lacks wheels and is heavy (33 lbs). You can move it, but you won't want to. The best options for travel are not surprisingly the travel crib cross-over products, the Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go Bassinet and the Lotus Bassinet.
Step 3: What is your budget?
The prices of bassinets vary widely between $50-435. This means there is something for everyone in this review and in our award winners no matter what your budget or needs. Once you've narrowed down whether or not you'd like a co-sleeper or a freestanding option and whether or not you plan to move it frequently you may be down to only a handful of options. Your budget can be the deciding factor that often makes the decision for you, but should your one true love be out of your price range you can always put it on your registry or seek help from family to make your dream bassinet a reality.
We tested each product over three months using a hands-on side-by-side comparison method. Using the products alongside one another allowed us to compare more thoroughly. We scored each bassinet according to five separate metrics, which we further broke down into subcategories for greater accuracy and detail.
We ultimately wanted to assess how well each product performed day-to-day. We looked at details such as accessibility from the parent bed, size, and weight as it relates to the ability to move the product from room to room or for travel, ease of cleaning, as well as any extra features and how well they functioned.
We considered the materials in and around the sleeping area and whether or not these materials could impair or inhibit a baby's ability to breathe. This observation focuses primarily on the design and construction of the sidewall materials. While most of the options had mesh sidewalls or wood slats, some have fabric surrounds, and at least one has a padded inner liner covered in a thick canvas exterior.
We tested the mattress and fabric of each product as it comes without accessories. We measure compression using a 15 lb weight to imitate the weight of an infant and use formulas to find the difference in height between compressed and non-compressed sections of the mattress. We asses the fit of the mattresses inside the sleeping area. Using the two-finger rule: if we could fit more than two fingers between the edge of the mattress and the sidewall, the product got a lower score.
We also made efforts to push the mattress to one side or to place pressure on the sidewalls, attempting to mimic the possible movements of a sleeping infant. We wanted to determine if a baby could position themselves in such a way that could potentially cause injury or death. Though not foolproof or a guarantee, we think it is a good start and valuable information.
We take a close look at the finer details of each product to assess things like sturdiness, the integrity of the materials and craftsmanship, as well as attention to detail and indications of quality control. The scores pull from a side-by-side comparison of the bassinets and how they appear and function as a standalone product. While this is somewhat subjective, the difference between products is evident.
We researched each product with their eco-health in mind, specifically what materials they use and what those materials may contain by way of toxic chemicals or substances that can potentially off-gas or be harmful to babies. These include, but are not limited to, flame retardants and VOC's from MDF materials.
There are so many variations of the classic bedside sleeper on the market today that it can be difficult to know what's right for you. With options ranging from co-sleepers to free-standing styles or travel crib conversions, the design you choose should center around your sleeping goals and parenting style. We included a few different options from each style to help you find the one that will best compliment your lifestyle.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team