Bassinet vs. Crib: What’s the Difference and Which One Is Best for Your Baby?

Picture of Robyn Rosenblum, MD, FAAP

what the difference between bassinet vs. crib

If you’re wondering what the differences are between a bassinet vs. crib and which one is best for your baby, you’re not alone! As a parent, safety is always on your mind, with safe sleep at the top of that list.

And a big part of the question of sleep safety is whether to go with a bassinet or a crib. Fortunately, Newton Baby’s experts are here to guide you through your baby’s journey to safe sleep.

In this article, we’ll provide you with the answers to commonly asked questions so that you can make the best decision for your family.

Table Of Contents

Bassinet vs. Crib: What’s the difference?

bassinet vs. crib

Both a bassinet and a crib are safe places for your baby to sleep. But they do have a few important differences.

Let’s dive in deeper.

What is a bassinet?

A bassinet is a bed specifically for babies from birth to about four months old. They are shaped like an oval or rectangle, have mesh or cloth sides, and are generally designed for easy mobility.

The base of the bassinet raises the bed level to the average adult’s waistline. Many parents have found this taller structure helpful in laying their baby down.

If you’ve had a C-section, for instance, you may not be able to lean over the side of the crib to lay your baby down and pick them up, so the bassinet becomes a better option.

Bassinets are available in a variety of colors and decor. Many even come with ruffled designs, hoods, and storage beneath the bed. Over the years, interesting features have been added to bassinets, like:

  • Lights
  • Sounds
  • Rocking
  • Music

Expert Tip: Once your baby reaches 20 pounds or can roll over on their own, a bassinet is no longer a safe sleeping option. Based on the development and growth of your baby, plan to transition them out of the bassinet around four months of age.

You’ll also want to consider the type of bassinet you want. Here are a few distinct models.

Co-sleeper bassinet

Some bassinets also work as bedside sleepers. For example, the Newton Baby Bassinet & Bedside Sleeper has a removable arm and zipper flap, allowing you to quickly convert it from one type of baby bed to another.

This setup can make middle-of-the-night feeds or diaper changes much simpler. Your baby is right there, yet they still have their own sleeping space. It’s a safer arrangement than co-sleeping.

Travel bassinet

Any bassinet is more portable than a crib, but some have extra features that make them perfect for travel. These beds are a good choice if you’re frequently on the road or if you need a safe sleeping area to leave at Grandma’s house.

Travel bassinets typically fold when not in use, making them easier to store or transport. Some have legs, while others are just sleeping spaces designed to be set on the floor.

Smart bassinet

When you combine technology with a bassinet, you may be amazed at the results. Smart bassinets offer various features, such as:

  • Cry detection
  • Auto rocking
  • Analytics on your baby’s sleep patterns

What is a crib?

what is a crib

A crib is defined by Merriam-Webster as a small child’s bedstead with high enclosing, usually slatted, sides. Cribs are a safe option for keeping older babies in their beds.

And while they come in a variety of styles, shapes, and sizes, below are the four main types of cribs.

Traditional crib

A traditional (or standard) crib is rectangular. These cribs don’t come with any extras as convertible cribs do, but the simple — yet effective — design is easy to set up.

Mini crib

A mini crib is also rectangular, but it takes up less space. The traditional crib uses a standard crib mattress of 28 inches wide and 52 inches long — like Newton Baby’s Crib Mattress — whereas the mini crib uses a crib mattress of 24 inches wide and 38 inches long.

Check out our Mini Crib Mattress if you choose this option!

what kind of mattress is right for a crib vs. bassinet

Convertible crib

A convertible crib is also rectangular and can eventually be converted into a toddler bed or daybed when your little one outgrows the traditional crib.

While the setup for convertible cribs is more extensive than that of traditional cribs, extra hardware and sides can be put together to transform the crib to fit your growing baby.

Also, the cost of a convertible crib is a little more than the cost of a traditional crib, but you may find this investment beneficial in the long run.

Round crib

The round crib is the least common type of crib available. Most round cribs are quite fancy, with accents and details that set them apart from traditional cribs.

They also have most of the same features as a regular crib, like an adjustable mattress height, casters, and a drop-down side to make it easy to get the baby in and out of the crib.

Its unique design makes it the most expensive option on our list. But the style and size of a round crib provide your baby with more open space to move around and play in as they grow.

Bassinet vs. Crib: Pros and cons

bassinet vs. crib pros and cons

While your new baby could sleep in either a crib or a bassinet, each has advantages and disadvantages to consider.

Let’s look at those now.

Bassinet pros

  • Smaller sleeping space for your newborn baby (transitioning from a tight womb to a small sleeping area rather than a large crib)
  • Easy mobility (you’re able to move your baby around the house)
  • Weighs less than a crib
  • Convenient for room sharing
  • Perfect for small living spaces
  • Less expensive than a crib
  • Easier to lay your baby down
  • Some can double as a bedside sleeper
  • Some have built-in motion or music
  • Some convert into a changing table

Bassinet cons

  • Smaller size and high center of gravity could pose a potential tipping hazard
  • Used only for a few months
  • Not cost-effective

Crib pros

  • Stable, sturdy design (less risk of tipping)
  • Used longer, even several years
  • Standard-sized mattresses are easy to find
  • Wide variety of styles, shapes, colors, and sizes
  • Allows for airflowSome can convert into a toddler bed, day bed, or twin bed
  • Adjustable mattress height to grow with your baby

Crib cons

  • Heavy (can be hard to move)
  • May not fit into your bedroom
  • More complicated assembly
  • May be difficult to lift baby in and out

Bassinet vs. Crib: Which is safer?

bassinet vs. crib which is safer

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), both cribs and bassinets are acceptably safe options for newborns.

The AAP recommends that your bassinet or crib have a tightly fitted sheet and an optional mattress pad — like Newton Baby’s Waterproof Mattress Pad — under the sheet to keep your baby safe.

No matter which one you choose, follow these safe sleep recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Always lay your baby down on their back (never facedown)
  • Share a room with your baby until at least six months of age
  • Do not share a bed with your baby (no co-sleeping)
  • No loose items in your baby’s sleeping area (e.g., loose bedding, blankets, stuffed animals, or clothing)
  • No crib bumpers
  • Do not use sleep positioners or any other type of sleeping aide for your baby
  • Take down any mobiles before your baby is big enough to grab them
  • Don’t position your baby’s bed near windows or by cords

We can’t stress enough the importance of following the safety guidelines for safe sleeping practices with your little one.

And guidelines are continually being updated, so consider buying a new bassinet or crib for your baby so that you can be sure it meets current standards.

Expert Tip: Always read the instruction manual for the bassinet or crib you choose to see the product’s weight limits.

Keeping baby safe in a bassinet

baby sleeping in a bassinet

Since safety is such an important topic, let’s look at a few specific guidelines for bassinets.

  • No inclined sleep surface: While bassinets can rock, their stopped position needs to provide a flat place for your baby to sleep. In addition, if the mattress is segmented, it shouldn’t have more than a 10-degree change in angle between the sections.
  • Mesh sides: You should be able to see your baby through the sides of the bassinet. This material also allows air to pass through, which can prevent suffocation.
  • Adhere to the weight limitations: Bassinets are safe when used properly. If your baby is over the weight limit, stop using the bed.
  • Use the wheel locks: If your bassinet has wheels, always securely lock them in place before putting your baby inside. And, of course, don’t move it around while your baby is inside.

Keeping baby safe in a crib

Cribs also have their own safety standards. Here are a few tips to consider.

  • Check the fasteners regularly: Screws and bolts can become loose over time, so make sure they stay tight.
  • No wide gaps: You shouldn’t be able to pass a soda can between any of the slats on the crib. If you can, they’re too wide and could pose an entrapment risk.
  • No tall posts: All crib posts need to be similar in height. Otherwise, your baby’s clothes could get stuck on the taller ones.

Mattress fit

Ensuring there are no gaps between the mattress and side of the bed — whether that bed is a crib or a bassinet — is one way to provide a safe sleeping environment for your baby.

Bassinets usually come with a mattress specifically designed for the product, but a crib mattress is an additional purchase. When it’s time to purchase a crib mattress, look for one that is:

Also, make sure the dimensions of the crib mattress fit your crib exactly. The snug fit will ensure your baby doesn’t get caught in any spaces between the mattress and crib.

What about a pack-and-play?

Mom using a pack and play

If you’re reading this article, then you may also be wondering if your baby can safely sleep in a pack-and-play.

A pack-and-play, or play yard, is an excellent secondary sleeping option for your baby, especially if you go with one that has a bassinet insert, like the Travel Crib & Play Yard from Newton Baby.

It can be easily moved around your home as needed. And it’s considered a safe sleep surface because it provides soft, breathable sides without crib bumpers, which are not recommended due to the risk of SIDS.

Like cribs, pack-and-plays have rigid safety standards and are considered a safe option for room-sharing. In fact, it is what most hotels offer as a sleeping option for infants and toddlers.

Additional considerations

how to choose bassinet vs. crib

Are you still on the fence about whether a bassinet or a crib is best for your baby? Now that you have the basic information and breakdown of the two, let’s take a look at a couple more factors to keep in mind.


When preparing for your baby’s arrival, you don’t want to spend several days trying to put their bed together. This can lead to frustration and stress (which is the last thing expecting parents need!), so think about how easily you can assemble the bed you’re considering.

And if you do choose a baby bed that isn’t easy to assemble, don’t hesitate to ask for help from friends or family when it comes time to put it together.


After assembling the bassinet or crib, check the stability of the product (you can always return it if you find it unstable).

Firmly push down or shake the sides of the bed, and inspect the wheels or legs. If your bassinet has wheels, make sure there is a mechanism for locking them in place so that the bassinet doesn’t easily roll or tip over if knocked.

If you’ve chosen a portable crib or bassinet, check the locks that hold the bed open. Make sure the locks are secure and in place so the bed doesn’t suddenly open or close.

Expert Tip: Even if you think you know how to assemble a crib or bassinet, always follow the instruction manual carefully. Your baby’s safety is at stake!

Which should you choose?

Sibling looking at newborn in a bassinet

Both cribs and bassinets are good bed options for newborns. But how do you know which one is right for your baby? Asking yourself the below questions can help you decide.

Will you be moving the bed around?

Traditionally, cribs stay set up in the nursery. They’re big and bulky and don’t easily fit through standard doorways. If you plan to move your baby from one room to another, you’ll likely have to disassemble the crib completely and reassemble it in its new location.

Bassinets, on the other hand, are much smaller. Some even have wheels, making them portable. You could have your baby’s bed in your room during the night and move it to the living room during the day so you’re always nearby.

Do you need your baby on a higher sleep surface?

If you’ve had a c-section, the lower profile of the bassinet might be a lifesaver. You won’t have to bend over as far to lay your little one down or pick them up.

Do you want to room-share?

Sleeping in the same room as your baby can reduce their risk of SIDS. If you plan on rooming together, consider your room’s size and shape before selecting a bed.

Do you have space for a crib without making it a tripping hazard? The bassinet might make the most sense if you have a smaller room. Then, when you transition your little one to the crib, you can have them move to the nursery.

How big is your baby?

As we mentioned earlier, most bassinets have a 15 to 20-pound maximum weight limit. If your baby weighs more than 10 pounds, they may outgrow the bed sooner than you expected.

While it’s hard to predict growth patterns, size is definitely something to think about.

Are you prepared to switch in a few months?

Bassinets are temporary sleeping spaces for babies. They’re designed to give your little one a cozy environment for a few months.

As soon as your little one starts rolling over or sitting up, a bassinet is no longer a safe choice. They could fall out over the side or get trapped.

To prevent injury or death, you’ll need to transition your baby into a different bed (such as a crib or play yard) at that time. This process can take time and patience. Change can be hard for babies, so you may experience a lot of tears and less sleep through the move.

If you prefer not to deal with a transition like this, having your baby sleep in a crib from the start may be best. Then, they won’t have to switch until they’re ready for a toddler bed.

You’ll find a few quick tips later on in this article, but for our full guide on making this transition, check out this post: When to Transition Your Baby to a Crib: A Guide for Parents.

Do you want a breathable mattress?

When you buy a crib, you can select any mattress to accompany it. A safe choice is to opt for a breathable one, like the Newton Baby Essential Crib Mattress. Our proprietary technology allows you to breathe through the mattress, reducing the risk of suffocation.

But due to size and shape differences, you can’t usually upgrade the mattress of your bassinet. You’ll be stuck with whatever one it comes with, which makes selecting the right bed even more important.

You’ll need to choose the Newton Baby Bassinet & Bedside Sleeper to get the breathable technology mentioned above. This video shows how breathable our mattress is:

What’s your budget?

Can you afford to purchase two different beds?

A crib can be used from birth on, while a bassinet only lasts a few months. Going with the crib might make financial sense if your budget is tight.

How to transition your baby from a bassinet to a crib

Transitioning Your Baby From A Bassinet To A Crib

If you choose a bassinet for your baby, these tips can help the transition to a new bed go more smoothly.

Start with naps.

Start with the nap. Put your baby down for a nap in the crib until they get used to it. Then, work on tackling the transition at night until they are sleeping in their crib all the time.

Create a bedtime routine.

If you haven't already established some sort of nighttime routine (e.g., bath, book, cuddles, sleep), now is the perfect time. All babies flourish on a solid bedtime routine.

As you repeat these actions each night, it will start to signal to your baby that slumber — and their crib — awaits.

Sleep in your baby's room.

Another way to soften the switch from the bassinet to the crib is to join your baby in their room. If there is a bed, a couch, or an air mattress, you can spend a few nights rooming with your baby.

Stay nearby.

You don’t need to awkwardly watch your baby sleep all night. But it can help to stick around while they drift off.

For example, after you place your baby in the crib, give them a chance to get comfortable while you are still in the room. Next, you can use the chair method of sleep training. This is a technique that teaches your baby to fall asleep without being picked up when they cry.

To use this technique, place your baby down and sit in a chair close to the crib. If they cry, you can comfort them with your voice. Gradually move the chair toward the door each night until you’re finally out of the room.

Provide comfort.

As we’ve established, until your baby is at least one year old, you shouldn’t be putting blankets or stuffed animals into their crib. Instead, make the room comfortable by dimming the lights or using white noise to help your little one fall asleep.

Bassinet vs. crib: What’s next?

Dad holding baby in nursery

Before your baby makes their big debut, you and your family will need to decide if they will sleep in a crib vs. bassinet. But don’t stress too much! You can switch from one to the other later to adapt to your family and your baby’s needs.

Keep in mind that the AAP provides parents with some safe sleep recommendations even though there’s no clear-cut answer on which is the safer option, a bassinet or a crib. The most important thing is to always follow these guidelines to protect your baby as much as possible.

And whether you go with a bassinet or a crib, Newton Baby is here for you. Our Bassinet & Bedside Sleeper keeps your baby close, and our Limited Edition Cribs provide a durable, long-term sleep solution, especially when paired with our 100% breathable mattress.

Sweet dreams!

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