Bassinet Vs. Crib: What’s The Difference And Which One Is Best For Your Baby?

Picture of Robyn Rosenblum, MD, FAAP

Medically reviewed by 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?

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, 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.

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

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 airflow
  • Some 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

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.

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?

 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 is an excellent secondary sleeping option for your 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.

Bassinet Vs. Crib: 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.

Assembly

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.

Stability

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!

FAQs About Cribs And Bassinets

Sibling looking at newborn in a bassinet

Why Do Parents Opt For Bassinets Instead of Cribs?

Many people use bassinets because they are smaller in size, making them more portable. Most bassinets also have a cover that can protect the baby during sleep.

Also, the sides are lower, so leaning over to get the baby is much easier than with a standard or convertible crib.

Can I Leave My Newborn In A Bassinet Alone?

Yes, your baby sleeping in the bassinet is OK as long as you follow safe sleep practices and they aren’t rolling over yet.

For the first six months, it’s recommended that your little one shares your room, so a bassinet is a safe place for your newborn to sleep.

Keep in mind that there should be no gaps between the bassinet and the mattress and no loose bedding.

Can SIDS Happen In a Bassinet?

Yes, SIDS can happen in a bassinet. According to experts, SIDS can happen anywhere. So you need to create a safe sleep environment in the bassinet as well as the crib.

In addition, you should check the bassinet to ensure that the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission are met.

Can A Newborn Go Straight To The Crib?

Although there are no set rules on when to transition your newborn into a crib, it is ideal to move them between three and six months old.

Are Co-Sleepers The Same As Bassinets?

Co-sleepers tend to be bigger than bassinets. They attach to the bed so you can sleep close to your baby without the risk of bedsharing.

Some parents prefer the convenience of attending to their baby in a co-sleeper and also being able to monitor them more closely.

Are There Specific Sheets For Cribs And Bassinets?

There are many factors that you should take into account when choosing a bassinet or crib sheet, such as the type of fabric, the weight of the fabric, and the thread count.

It’s important to know what you’re looking for in a sheet before making a purchase. A great option for your baby’s crib is our Breathable, Organic Cotton Sheets. They are 100% breathable and fit snugly over any crib mattress.

Can A Bassinet Be Used As A Crib?

There are large bassinets available on the market that convert into a crib. So, if you have a convertible bassinet, you can also use it as a crib.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on baby weight and age limit recommendations set by the manufacturer to be on the safe side.

Transitioning Your Baby From A Bassinet To A Crib

Transitioning Your Baby From A Bassinet To A Crib

Some babies won’t mind the switch from a bassinet to a crib. They will sleep wherever you put them. But if you're worried that changing things up will affect your little one’s slumber, here are a few ideas to help with the transition to a crib.

Make The Switch In Stages

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.

Move The Crib To Your Room

Transitioning your baby to a crib might be easier if you do it one switch at a time, so consider moving their crib into your room for a few nights.

Once your little one adjusts to sleeping in a bigger space, you can move it back to the nursery.

Sleep In Your Baby's Room

Alternatively, 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.

Stick Around

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.

Things To Avoid

baby in a crib

Infant Sleep Positioners

Some products, like wedges and bolsters, claim that they reduce the risk of SIDS, acid reflux, GERD, and flat head syndrome. There is no evidence that this is true, and these items may actually increase the risk of SIDS.

Non-Baby Safe Mattresses

Stay away from mattresses not made specifically for your crib or bassinet. There should be no more than a two-fingers width between the side of the crib and the mattress.

Mobiles

Mobiles may be cute, but they are not recommended over a crib. Not only could they fall and pose a suffocation hazard, but once your little one can reach up and grab things, they could pull them down over themselves.

Windows

Cribs should never be placed near windows, cords, blinds, or furniture with objects your child may pull down onto themselves.

The Right Decision For You And Your Family

Since the AAP considers both the crib and the bassinet safe sleep options for your baby, which works best for your family? Here are some factors in your decision:

Baby’s Size And Development

Although a bassinet is a more ideal option at first, there is a weight limit to consider as mentioned earlier. Bassinets only have a 15 to 20-pound maximum weight limit. If your newborn is over 10 pounds, they will quickly outgrow a bassinet.

On the other hand, if you have a small or premature baby, a crib may feel too large for your baby in the beginning. Some babies like to feel a little cozier in a smaller space, like a bassinet.

Your baby may also outgrow their bassinet based on their development, even if they are still under the weight limit. If your baby is starting to roll over or is otherwise mobile, a bassinet may not be a safe choice because it is smaller and could pose more of an entrapment or suffocation risk.

Space

You may want to consider your living space when determining a bassinet vs. crib. Since cribs are larger than bassinets, a bassinet may be more appropriate for a smaller living and sleeping area. However, not all cribs are large, and some are specifically designed for small spaces.

Expense

Consider your budget when making a decision between a bassinet and crib. Most bassinets will not last longer than a few months for your baby, so chances are you will still need to purchase a crib.

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.

Speaking of protecting your little one, the Newton Baby 100% breathable mattress gives your baby safer, healthier, and better sleep, making our products the best choice. Consider a Newton Baby breathable mattress to ensure great sleep — for you and baby!

0 comments