Best Bassinet of 2021
$199.99 at Amazon
|$340.00 List||$435.00 List|
$245.00 at Amazon - 44% off
$49.98 at Amazon
$199.99 at Amazon - 17% off
|Pros||Quick setup, portable, easy access to baby||Works with UPPAbaby Vista stroller||Natural materials available, adjustable height, easy to reach baby||Inexpensive, easy to move from room to room||Mesh breathability, swivel versatility, easy access to baby bedside|
|Cons||Has some flex in the frame||Canvas padded sides impact breathability, price||Expensive, hard to move||Small wheels, flimsy construction, fabric limits breathability||Spot clean only, hard to move from room to room|
|Bottom Line||Good for co-sleeping and a free-standing bassinet for most families||Fabric sides covered in canvas lend to suboptimal breathability||Functional wood bassinet you can use from your bed||Fabric side panels impact the breathability of this cheaper poor quality option||Safer alternative to co-sleeping and perfect for moms with c-sections|
|Rating Categories||Beside Me Dreamer||UPPAbaby Bassinet...||babybay Bedside...||Deluxe Sweet...||HALO Bassinest...|
|Ease Of Use (35%)|
|Sleep Surface (20%)|
|Eco Health (5%)|
|Specs||Beside Me Dreamer||UPPAbaby Bassinet...||babybay Bedside...||Deluxe Sweet...||HALO Bassinest...|
|Assembled Weight||17.5 lbs||18.4 lbs||28.6 lbs||9.4 lbs||33 lbs|
|Open Dimensions||26"-30.5"H x 39"L x 27"W||33.3"H x 30.8"L x 18.5"W||37.1"H x 36"L x 20.7"W||31.5"H x 34.3"L x 19.4"W||36.9"H x 45.3"L (base) 33.8" (bassinet) x 21.8"W (bassinet)|
|Age/Height/Weight Limit||5 Months or 20 lbs
Discontinue Use When Infant:
Pushes Up On Hands And Knees
|25" or 20 lbs
Discontinue Use When Infant:
Pushes Up On Hands And Knees, Rolls Over, Sit Up Unaided
Discontinue Use When Infant:
Pushes Up On Hands And Knees
Discontinue As An Attachable Baby Bed When Infant:
Rolls Over Or Pulls Up To A Kneeling, Sitting Or Standing Position
Discontinue Use When Infant:
Pushes Up On Hands And Knees
|5 Months or 20 lbs
Discontinue Use When Infant:
Pushes Up On Hands And Knees, Pulls Up, Rolls Over, Sit Unassisted, Can Move Out Of The Security Of The Walled Sleep Area
|Product Care||Machine Wash||Mattress Cover, Zip-Out Liner: Machine Washable
Outer Bassinet Fabric: Spot Clean or Hand Wash
|Wipe Down||Spot Clean||Sheet: Machine Wash
Base and Mattress: Spot Clean
|Bassinet Mattress Height Above Floor||14" - 19"
Adult Mattress Height
Adult Mattress Height
|Special Features||Foldable||Adjustable Canopy||Made From Solid Wood||Electronic Music Module With Nightlight||Rotates 360 Degrees, Sidewall Lowers|
|Chemical Flame Retardant Free||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Mesh Sides||Yes - Full||None||Wood Slats||Partial - 2 Panels||Yes - Full|
|Included Accessories||Sheet||Bug Shield, Bassinet Storage Bag||None||Adjustable Canopy, Electronic Music Module with Nightlight, Rocking Base with Locking Retractable Casters||Fitted Sheet|
|Available Accessories||Waterproof Fitted Sheet||Bassinet Mattress Cover||Classic Mattress, Cooling Comfort Mattress, Eco-Organic Mattress, Cloud Comfort Mattress, Cooling Comfort Jersey Sheet, Snuggle Comfort Terry Sheet, Dry Comfort Mattress Protector, Classic Comfort Mattress Pad with Cotton Cover, Cooling Comfort Mattress Pad with Dry Comfort Mattress Protector, Organic Comfort Mattress Pad with Dry Comfort Mattress Protector, Cloud Comfort Mattress Pad with Dry Comfort Mattress Protector, babybay Organic Babynest, babybay Patterned Babynest, babybay Solid Colored Babynest, Bassinet Conversion Kit, Rolling Casters, Canopy Holder, Organic Canopy, Patterned Canopy, Solid Colored Canopy, Bed Frame Anchor, babycare Organizer||None||Fitted Sheet, Mattress Pad, Mobile Sleepy Owl, Mobile Whimsical Birds, Storage Caddy, Newborn Insert|
|Set Up Time||6:50||2:10||39:14:00||32:26:00||27:10:00|
|Materials||Polyester, Polyester Fiber Batting||Polyester, Cotton, Nylon, Polyester Batting, Polyurethane Foam||Beechwood, Water-Based Finishes, CFC Polyurethane Foam||Polyurethane Foam||Polyester Fiber, Polyester Fiber Batting, Polyurethane Foam|
Best Overall Bassinet
Baby Delight Beside Me Dreamer
The Baby Delight Beside Me Dreamer is a semi-portable, lightweight bassinet you can use as a co-sleeper or standalone product. This cool option can attach to the side of the parent bed for quick nursing or soothing in the middle of the night without getting out of bed. It can also be moved to other locations to use as a napping sleeper when you want to keep an eye on your little one during the day. This product has a quick set up, a cover you can machine wash and dry, and is relatively budget-friendly compared to the competition.
Depending on your bed's style or height, this option may not work as a co-sleeper, and we experienced side-to-side flexing went the unit is used as a standalone bassinet. Overall, we think this is a good choice for families looking for a closer night time connection to their baby and want the flexibility of using it as a stand-alone option.
Read review: Baby Delight Beside Me Dreamer
Quality Co-Sleeper at a Premium Price
babybay Bedside Sleeper
The babybay Bedside Sleeper is a high-quality, thoughtfully designed bedside style co-sleeper with a minimalistic yet lovely look. This option attaches to your bed with some height adjustability for a "just right" 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 is lovely enough to work with any nursery decor.
While this product is one of the most expensive in the group and therefore not suitable for tight budgets, we feel it is a standout heirloom-style option that will be well-loved and used through the long haul to welcome new members of the family for years to come.
Read review: babybay Bedside Sleeper
Ideal for Post-Cesarean Section Moms
HALO Bassinest Essentia
The HALO Bassinest Essentia is a niche option that is great for post-cesarean section moms. It features a unique swiveling sleep surface that allows you to move the Essensia directly over or away from the bed for best access or convenience. The side rails also dip down, making it far easier for a bed-sitting mom to reach her baby. It features breathable mesh sides and natural swaying to help provide comfort and a soothing movement for little ones. It is a well-constructed option with high-quality materials and a sturdy base to keep it in place.
The HALO is significantly heavier than other options in this review and not designed to move from room-to-room, so if you need something somewhat portable, you should look elsewhere. Also, the base is large and can stick out depending upon its location and your bed type. This design means you need to use caution to avoid tripping when you move around it. Despite its weight and size, we believe this is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to keep their baby within reach while staying in bed, particularly after a Cesarean or late-night feedings.
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 option for sleep and play. This budget-friendly travel crib comes standard with the Pack 'n Play making it useful from newborn to toddlerhood in various ways. The On the Go is easy to move from room to room with two wheels, and it comes with a toy bar and a storage bag suitable for travel.
While the Graco is heavy, large, and harder to use, its price point and versatility as both a bassinet, playpen, and travel crib are hard to beat. Plus, while it does not fit the traditional criteria as a bedside co-sleeper, it can be positioned near your bed for first-hand infant monitoring. One thing we will note is that Graco brand Pack 'n Plays tend to have a strong odor fresh from the box, so we strongly recommend letting the product off-gas or air out in a well-ventilated area before using it with your baby.
Read review: Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go Bassinet
Stylish Free Standing Cradle
The BabyBjorn Cradle is a free-standing wood-framed sleeper that uses high-quality materials, including full mesh sidewalls giving it 360-degree breathability. The Cradle is lightweight and is easily moveable by lifting and carrying the whole thing, though this method is not as easy as wheeled options. Nonetheless, it can work for parents who plan to keep their baby nearby in almost every room. Machine-washable components also give BabyBjorn an upper hand in ease-of-use and make any major blow out or throw up easy to clean.
For those on a limited budget, the Bjorn Cradle may not be the best choice, particularly considering it's shorter lifespan. However, we feel parents searching for a stylish, free-standing product will like the look of this option and gain peace of mind with the 360-degree breathable mesh. There is also an accessory BabyBjorn Canopy for Cradle if you want something a little more fancy or added shading and coziness for tiny sleepers.
Read review: BabyBjorn Cradle
Best for Long-term Use
The Lotus Bassinet can be purchased as an accessory to the Guava's Crib-to-Bassinet Conversion Kit or as a bundle purchase with Guava's Lotus Travel Crib. Whichever way you choose, the bassinet only functions if you already have the Lotus Travel Crib frame, raising the overall cost. We appreciate the full mesh sides for maximum breathability and low VOC and the lack of flame retardant use in this option. It is also one of the few we've seen with a rocking feature that clicks onto the bottom of the travel crib's legs. The Lotus is light enough to move around your home and folds into a small bundle perfect for traveling. Overall, this option is a great versatile package that can work 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 already own a travel crib or have your sights set on something different, then this is probably not the best option for you. Nonetheless, the Lotus is a high-quality choice with thoughtful details that matter for health.
Read review: Lotus Bassinet
UPPAbaby Bassinet and Stand
The UPPAbaby Bassinet and Stand is a unique option that converts from a stroller attachment to an at-home sleep solution for early infancy. It goes from stroller to sleeping area by removing it from the stroller frame and clicking it into the UPPAbaby Stand. While this multi-tasking innovation might feel like a no-brainer for some parents who own the Vista Stroller, we have some reservations about a few of the design features. Because it is intended for strolling in the outdoors, it understandably includes fabric sides to limit wind exposure and other weather hazards from reaching the baby while outdoors. As a result, the sidewalls aren't as breathable as the competition designed specifically with in-home, regular, overnight use in mind.
We are hesitant to use the UPPAbaby, as the design has much in common with items identified as potential SIDS risks (i.e., crib bumpers). While fine for strolling use with continued supervision, UPPAbaby's attempt to increase the versatility by selling a compatible in-home stand fails, in our humble opinion, to consider adequate breathability in the side materials. The potential for impaired breathability makes this option notably disappointing for us and one we do not recommend for use as a regular at-home sleep location.
Read review: UPPAbaby Bassinet and Stand
Co-sleeping in Parent's Bed
BabyGearLab does not recommend using ANY "in bed" co-sleeping device or accessory designed for use in/on 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. This product's actual intended purpose 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 the 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 clarifies the product's intended uses, it is now even more concerning because it is now clearly marketed as a safer alternative to sleeping with a 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 knowledgeable of best infant sleep practices. Senior Review Analyst and father of 7, Bob Wofford, did the hands-on work for this review, measuring, weighing, and researching each product 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 also spend time testing the sleepers with infants in real life. We go in-depth to parse out the materials and examine the overall eco and baby health considerations for each option in our review. We measure mattress thicknesses, assess stability, and carefully inspect each product for quality construction. We even performed EMF testing for the smart sleeper. Our tests allow us to examine every feature and functionality to select the top options available.
Jump to: How We Tested Bassinets
Analysis and Test Results
Babies sleep a lot, but they also wake up frequently at night for feedings and diaper changes. Modern-day parents have a variety of choices regarding sleeping accommodations for babies, and more parents are choosing products that keep little ones in the same room with them or within reach. This kind of arrangement allows you to keep an eye on your newborn and meet their needs with less disruption to your sleep habits. If keeping your baby nearby for bonding or easier nighttime feedings is something that sounds interesting to you, then finding a free-standing sleeper or co-sleeper that attaches to your bed may be the key to regularly achieving a better night's sleep.
Can you survive babyhood without purchasing this type of gear? Of course. However, we think it is convenient to keep your baby close for peace of mind, bonding, and better sleep. This kind of gear provides a compact, safe, and secure environment for your baby while meeting your grander goals.
Keep reading to see what we learned about the products in this review from our extensive testing process and which products we feel would be a much-appreciated addition to your life.
While the price of a quality product can be high, and in some cases, greater than an ordinary crib, we do feel alternative sleeping products serve a purpose and can feel invaluable if they increase sleep for you or your baby. The product that offers the most for the price is the Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go Bassinet. It provides a versatile sleeper that can function as a standalone bed, a travel crib, or a play yard. It is easy to use and has a longer lifespan than some of the competition.
Ease of Use
When testing ease of use, we consider each product's features and functionality 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 a baby. How easy is it to get the 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 babybay Bedside Sleeper also provides great accessibility by attaching directly to the side of your bed and being height adjustable. The Baby Delight has a drop-side on the parent bedside of the crib for easier accessibility to the baby. All have a lower sidewall that allows you to reach over the side to comfort little ones easily without getting up. 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. These typically have higher sides than many beds, and you need to stand up to retrieve or replace your little one from the sleeping surface safely.
There are two components to a product's mobility. First, is how easy it is to move from room to room, so you have the option of keeping your baby nearby no matter where you are. The second portability feature is how well it travels from your home to another location. Because this type of product is not typically viewed as a travel product, only a few options in this review were suitable for travel, and most of these were crossover options that are travel cribs by design, such as the Lotus and the Graco Pack 'n Play on the Go. The Baby Delight doesn't offer wheels or a cool carry bag, but it is lightweight for moving it around the house, and you can disassemble it for a fairly flat package that is small enough if you plan to travel by car.
Any product that has a wood frame or substantial base is not suitable for travel. Examples include the BabyBjorn Cradle, HALO Bassinest Essentia, and the Snoo Smart Sleeper. And, some of these are also a hassle to move from room to room. Most heavy or large products are best used in a single location.
Some of the products in this review come with additional features that can increase convenience or versatility. None of the products lost favor for not offering functionality beyond a safe sleep zone. Still, some had features that make using them easier, increasing their overall ease of use. 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 like the Baby Delight, but they didn't need the extra bells and whistles to outperform the competition. The HALO Bassinest Essentia has a moving sidewall that greatly increases its 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. The Snoo Smart Sleeper has a machine washable lining and mattress sheets (which is a big deal), and the fabric on the Baby Bjorn Cradle, UPPAbaby, and the Lotus are also machine washable. The outside cover and sheet on the Baby Delight are machine washable and dryable, making it one of the few with a quick turn around time for cleaning. Being able to clean sheets, covers, or other parts of a sleeping area is important when you're dealing with a tiny person who can make big messes.
To assess breathability, we considered the sidewalls that surround the sleeping area. Can a baby breathe through the material? Could any components impair the baby's breathing? Is there a design feature that might 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 one of the most breathable material, depending on the weave's tightness, and the more mesh 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. Options with wooden slats are an alternative option and also very breathable. Be sure to choose a product without a fabric surround that can mimic crib bumpers (a product the American Academy of Pediatrics[AAP] 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 group's high scorers. 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 the baby in the center of the mattress and on their back, eliminating any risk of the baby's face getting pressed up against the mesh fabric. The BabyBjorn Cradle, Baby Delight, 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 mattress's design or sleep area.
The Snoo Smart Sleeper earned a high score of 9 for sleep surface. The HALO Bassinest Essentia and Baby Delight Beside Me Dreamer also earned above-average ratings, albeit slightly lower with 8s. Both 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 during testing.
Not all competitors are created equal. With variable materials and construction methods, there is quite a range when it comes to quality. Some products have a clear quality advantage over others and could be a much more appealing addition to your home. Others are sub-par and feel more like a child's toy than a suitable sleeping space.
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 easier 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. We believe 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 each product's materials 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, as 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 transparent about 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 bang their own drum loud enough for the world to hear to let you know about it. In other words, if the information is true and accessible, it will likely be very easy to find. If a company does not provide transparency about the manufacturing process or materials, we assume that they only meet required safety standards and did not include additional eco-benefits.
None of the options in this review performed that well for eco-health, largely because they all use some form of polyurethane foam in their sleep surface. Despite the claim that some are low VOC, hypoallergenic, GreenGuard Certified, or Oeko-Tex® certified, they are all 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 your new purchase has a "new" or offensive smell, we highly encourage letting it off-gas in a well-ventilated area for several days or until the smell subsides before using it. While a lack of odor does not mean it is no longer emitting VOCs, it does decrease exposure to some of the initial, stronger emissions.
babybay Bedside Sleeper earned one of the highest scores for eco-health. This result is largely 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 tests low for VOC and is free of PVC, lead, phthalates, formaldehyde, and heavy metals (Cadmium, Arsenic, Mercury, etc.).
Several lower-ranking products include the Graco Pack n Play On The Go, Graco Dream Suite, Fisher-Price Soothing Motions, and Chicco Lullago. These manufacturers offer little or no information concerning what their products contain, but they all have a polyurethane mattress that potentially uses chemical flame retardants.
The Snoo works with Wi-Fi and your smart device, so it emits EMF as a result. While the EMF we recorded during testing is on the lower side, it is still more than competing bassinets (which produce none) and is something we think parents should consider before selecting the Snoo. If your little one struggles for deep sleep and needs more or constant soothing, this EMF level could feel acceptable compared to the alternative of you both getting less sleep or nonrestorative sleep. Overall, we prefer to limit or avoid exposing little ones to EMF whenever possible, and we wish the Snoo included an EMF-free functionality. Keep in mind that even though the EMF level is lower, it is higher by the power button, and your little one is experiencing exposure to EMF elsewhere in your home. It 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 think they have their place and often make the first months of babyhood easier on parents and babies. 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 the baby close at night so you can see them and tend to their needs, with as little disruption to your sleep as possible. Studies indicate that sleeping in the same room with your baby can potentially decrease SIDs; while theories abound on why 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 the 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 in 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 parents' desire to sleep with their baby and feared the possibility of injury or death 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 important considerations 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 this kind of product's overall safety 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 sidewall. 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 sidewall. 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 the 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 prevent 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 avoiding 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 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 the 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 the stairs? How wide are your doorways and halls? Are there awkward turns you'll need to negotiate? The weights in this review ranged 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 potentially 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 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 a lightweight option 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 babybay Bedside Sleeper is heavy, larger, and doesn't have wheels. It also has a lower sidewall, so it cannot 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 travel options 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 our award winners no matter your budget or needs. Once you've narrowed down whether 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 decides 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, and 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 infant's weight and use formulas to find the difference in height between compressed and non-compressed sections of the mattress. We assess 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 place pressure on the sidewalls, attempting to mimic a sleeping infant's possible movements. 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, and 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.
With so many options of bedside sleepers available today, it can be challenging to determine which product will be best for you. Your chosen design should focus on your sleeping goals and parenting style with products ranging from co-sleepers to free-standing styles or travel crib conversions. We've included a variety of choices from each style to help you find the one that will best fit your lifestyle.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team