Choosing the Best Bassinet (2017 Guide & Reviews)
Let's face it: where your baby sleeps can make all the difference when it comes to your peace of mind.
So it's super important to find the right sleeping product that provides the most comfort for both you, and your baby. For a lot of people, that product is a bassinet.
In this detailed buyer's guide, we take a look at why you might want to buy a bassinet, what key features to keep in mind when shopping, at what some of the top brands are currently on the market.
So find out which bassinets are truly the safest, most convenient, comfortable and worthwhile for your newborn.
Our Top Bassinet Picks for Baby
The Halo 360 Bassinest (click here to check the price on Amazon) combines many of the features you look for in a bassinet. It has a small footprint, allows you to keep baby close to you while you sleep and is JMPA certified.
The CJ Foundation for SIDS recommends this bassinet as the safest alternative to bed sharing. The Halo 360 bassinet fits most beds 22” to 34” tall.
Although this bassinet contains flame retardants, they are nontoxic. The bassinet is also phthalate and BPA free.
- Base slides under the bed so that it takes up less space, and the height adjusts to optimize bassinet for the size of your bed.
- Basket swivels 360 degrees to allow you to sleep or get out of bed without moving the entire bassinet.
- Nursing timer helps parents wake up for feeding intervals, and sounds, music and vibration soothe baby and shut off automatically after 30 minutes.
- Made of polyester material that wipes clean easily, mesh sides allow for adequate ventilation, and comes with fitted sheet.
- Mattress is waterproof and it won’t absorb stains, the nightlight provides a gentle glow when you’re tending to baby at night, and additional sheets and mattress pad are available.
- The only part that is machine washable is the sheet, and the stable base is heavy, making this bassinet hard to move.
- Vibration and light are at strongest at the center of the basket, making it inconvenient if baby’s head is in that area.
- Some moms say that the side wall is difficult to push down, and the volume of music and sounds is not adjustable.
The BabyBjorn Cradle (click here to check the price on Amazon) has sleek, contemporary style and a versatile design. It does not use electronic sounds, music or motion, and while the cradle rocks, it’s not a traditional rocking motion. Instead, the cradle sways gently in response to your baby’s movements. You can also push the cradle with your hand to rock it gently.
It is stable on any flooring, and the low 31” height from the floor to base of cradle makes this possible to place next to a bed. However, some users say that it’s too low to get baby in and out of comfortably.
This bassinet does not contain toxic flame retardants. The company states that the product contains no health-hazardous substances but doesn’t specifically comment on the materials used in the fiberboard underneath the mattress pad.
- Spring suspension sways gently in every direction, soothing baby every time he or she moves, while the waterproof mattress is easy to wipe down and won’t absorb mess.
- Mattress slides into a satiny soft removable cover, and it's not made with flame retardant chemicals.
- Easy to assemble, and its small footprint doesn’t take up unnecessary space.
- Mesh sides allow for adequate ventilation, while the fabric and mattress pad cover are machine washable but must be air dried.
- Light enough that you can pick it up and move it around the house, while sturdy enough to resist tipping over.
- Doesn't fold up for travel, and also doesn't come with a fitted sheet.
- Some moms say the safety labels on the cradle are large and unattractive, while others noted that it doesn't rock intensely enough for babies who prefer more motion.
- Doesn’t have wheels, so you have to lift the entire bassinet to move it, and also lacks a storage area.
The uber-popular Graco Pack N Play is an economical bassinet (click here to check the price on Amazon) that's designed for versatile portability.
It contains ample-sized storage pockets so that you can keep baby’s items and diaper-changing accessories handy, and one of the most adaptable features of this bassinet is its removable bassinet insert.
When the bassinet insert is being used, it allows baby to sleep at a higher level. Once baby becomes more mobile, he or she can be placed to sleep on the lower pad, which is safe to use until baby weighs 40 pounds, 35” tall and is unable to climb out.
- Collapses easily with the click of a button, and folds into a convenient carrying case.
- Light enough to carry from place to place when folded down, and the waterproof mattress is easy to wipe down and won’t absorb mess.
- Comes with a mobile that gives your baby soft toys to watch, kick and bat, while the durable frame stands up to use and collapsing for travel.
- Materials wipe clean for those bound-to-happen messes.
- Doesn't move or rock, nor does it come with fitted sheet.
- None of the fabric is removable for machine washing, while its large size makes it cumbersome to move from room to room and through doorways (although the wheels allow you to roll it safely).
- When used as a crib for older babies, you must bend down to reach the mattress pad, which is close to the floor, while the weight limit is only 15 pounds, lower than many standalone bassinets.
The Graco Dream Suite (click here to check the price on Amazon) may not be the prettiest bassinet, but it’s loaded with features.
This bassinet is priced in the middle of all of the bassinets that we’ve reviewed, but it has many benefits. It has a canopy, toy bar, locking wheels, a large storage compartment and soothing vibration.
This bassinet also turns into a diaper changing station simply by rotating the basket. The changing table option helps extend its use.
Even when your baby is too big to lie in the bassinet, you can use the diaper station as an extra convenience in any room of the house. The Dream Suite is also JPMA certified.
- Easy to assemble, and has a canopy to block the light when baby is sleeping.
- Basket rotates to provide a diaper-changing surface, while the large storage compartment beneath the basket holds a large amount of diapers.
- Wheels make it easy to maneuver around the house, and the waterproof changing surface is easy to wipe down and won’t absorb liquids.
- Comes with a removable, machine-washable mattress pad, and a crib mobile that provides entertainment for your baby.
- Doesn't rock, and only having mesh on a portion of the sides makes it difficult to see baby from the side.
- Some buyers say it’s not convenient to rotate the basket for diaper changing; diaper changer may be better used alone once baby outgrows bassinet.
- No bed skirt to cover the storage compartment so you can see all the clutter, while the storage bins are flimsy and may sag when filled with heavy items, and the canopy can't be removed, so taking baby in and out can be cumbersome.
The Fisher-Price Rock n' Play (click here to check the price on Amazon) is an alternative to a flat bassinet.
It offers automatic all-night rocking motion, which may be exactly what an exhausted parent needs. However, if the motor does stop working, it’s awkward to rock the Rock ‘N Play manually.
The slight incline can help if your baby has digestive issues. Although the three-point harness may tempt you to use this until your baby is older, it will not hold your child securely once he or she can sit up by him or herself.
This product is lower to the ground than traditional bassinets, making it easy to see your baby if you place it next to the bed. However, it can be uncomfortable for a tall adult to move baby in and out of the low height.
- Plays soothing sounds at the push of a button, and provides two speeds of gentle, hands-free rocking that can help baby sleep even when you’re sleeping.
- Incorporated AC plug for sounds and rocking motion means that you don’t need batteries, while the slight incline can be more comfortable for babies with reflux issues.
- Has a three-point harness to keep a wiggly baby in place, and folds flat for travel or storage.
- Entire sleeping surface can be removed and put in the washing machine and dryer, and it comes with a removable teething toy that can be attached to the bassinet so that baby can’t lose it.
- Although it folds flat for portability, it cannot be brought on an airplane without completely disassembling it.
- The need to plug it in may limit the location where you can use it, while some moms said it made noise when rocking, which was disruptive at night.
- Can't be adjusted to lie flat if baby doesn’t prefer the incline, and there's no storage compartment.
Another popular bassinet, the Arms Reach Co-Sleeper (click here to check the price on Amazon) is designed to be used next to your bed or anywhere in the house.
The side rails are 11” high when fully extended. However, the bassinet mattress does not line up flush with your mattress without a slight wall between you and baby. One side lowers to 5.5” high to make it easier for you to reach baby when the bassinet is next to the bed.
The leg height is adjustable to help line up the co-sleeper with your bed, and the casters at the bottom of each leg help you roll the bassinet easily from room to room.
It comes with straps to hold the co-sleeper flush to the side of your bed.
- Mattress has a waterproof cover that can be easily wiped clean, and the wheels have a locking mechanism.
- Extra-large storage compartment beneath basket holds plenty of diapers, while the tall storage compartment sides hide clutter.
- Side pockets provide easy access to important accessories, like pacifiers and diapers, while the full mesh sides give you a good view of your baby.
- Comes with a fitted sheet for the mattress, while extra fitted sheets and an organic mattress can be purchased separately.
- Doesn't fold for storage or break down for travel, and it doesn't play sounds or music.
- Doesn't rock or glide, and the rigid bars are not ideal, as babies can bang their heads on them.
- Some moms say that it doesn't feel sturdy enough.
The Summer Infant Soothe & Sleep Bassinet (click here to check the price on Amazon) has the look of a vintage bassinet but the benefits of modern technology.
The bassinet plays several sounds, including a womb sound, two nature sounds and music. Soothing vibrations lull your baby to sleep.
The storage basket is large, and its sides are covered with decorative fabric for a clean look.
- Collapsible canopy can block the light but can be moved for easy access to baby, and the mattress comes with a fitted sheet.
- Mattress is waterproof, while the wheels let you move the bassinet from room to room and have a locking mechanism.
- Vibration and sounds have auto shut-off to preserve battery life, and toys dangle from the canopy to give baby something to play with.
- Extra-large compartment beneath basket provides plenty of storage, while tall storage compartment sides hide clutter.
- Doesn't fold for storage or break down for travel.
- Doesn't rock or sway.
- No mesh sides, so viewing baby can be difficult from the side.
What is a Bassinet?
A bassinet is an option for smaller babies. A bassinet is a small structure that is similar to a basket. Many people refer to bassinets as cradles.
A bassinet is often somewhat portable. It may have wheels that allow you to move it easily from room to room. Some bassinets are collapsible, so you can bring them along when you travel.
You can typically use a bassinet from the time that your baby is a newborn until he or she is about four months old. Because bassinets don’t have the tall sides of a crib, they are not safe for infants that can roll over or sit up.
Why Choose a Bassinet?
Unlike a crib, which is usually quite large and stands on a fixed frame, bassinets are smaller and more versatile. You can typically make space for a bassinet in any room of the house.
Their small size and mobility allow you to keep your baby closer to you whether you’re sleeping, cooking or watching TV.
You may want a bassinet for any of the following reasons:
- You want the baby to sleep in your bedroom but don’t want to bed share or place a crib in your room.
- You would like to be able to keep your baby close to you in the first few months.
- You want to be able to move your infant from room to room even if he or she is sleeping.
- You expect to travel with your child.
- You have to heal after a C-section, and keeping baby close to you allows you to get the rest that you need.
What to Look for in a Bassinet
Most bassinets currently sold in the retail market are made according to strict safety standards. However, adherence to the ASTM standard is voluntary. If they do comply with those safety standards, they will have a seal from the Juvenile Products Manufacturer’s Association.
Beyond safety issues, bassinets vary in size, price, mobility, and ease of use. Here are some of the features that distinguish different bassinets.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents follow several practices to keep their babies safe while sleeping.
- Infants should be placed to sleep on their backs. The bassinet allows you to set your child down on his or her back without bending down too far or having to reach over a tall crib rail.
- Babies should sleep on a firm mattress. Bassinets are made with sleeping surfaces that adhere to this recommendation.
- Young infants are safer when room sharing with parents. Bassinets are an ideal size to fit into just about any room in the house. You can easily monitor your infant when he or she is in a bassinet in your room.
Mesh walls allow for better air flow that solid or fabric walls. Proper air flow can help prevent baby from overheating, another risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.
If your child does roll over and press his or her face against the wall, mesh walls will decrease the risk of suffocation.
Although many parents are concerned about their baby’s comfort, a thin, firm mattress is the safest. The ideal bassinet mattress should be less than 1-inch thick. The Consumer Product Safety Commission explains that the mattress must not allow the baby to tilt at an angle of more than 10 degrees.
You should use only a fitted mattress cover in the bassinet; don’t add other sheets, blankets or toys. Also, the fitted sheet should be made to fit the mattress. Bagginess could pose a suffocation hazard.
The availability of a snug-fitting sheet is especially a consideration if you’re purchasing a custom bassinet or a unique style.
Some parents want to limit their baby’s exposure to toxins and chemicals. If this is important to you, you may want to consider purchasing a bassinet made with organic, nontoxic materials.
One of the main concerns when it comes to toxic chemicals in baby products is flame retardants. According to the Center for Environmental Health, in 2014 baby products no longer were required to be made with flame retardants, because the products were not proven to contribute to the risk of fire.
The size and weight of a bassinet may be crucial factors depending on its intended use. If you plan to keep the bassinet stationary, the weight and size may not be deal breakers. However, if you would like to bring the bassinet with you from room to room, you need a bassinet that’s easily movable.
Consider whether you will need to bring the bassinet up and down stairs. A removable basket will make life easier in a multi-level home.
Other considerations are whether your home has wide or narrow hallways or whether you must take the bassinet around tight turns.
Ease of Cleaning
It is inevitable that your baby will spit up and have diaper explosions in the bassinet. It should be easy to clean and dry so that you’re not stuck without a place to lay baby to sleep during the cleaning process.
If the components are easily removable, they may be machine washable. However, sometimes putting them in the dryer shrinks them so that they are difficult to put back on again.
The most convenient bassinets have removable linings that are easy to take off and put back together again. It’s not helpful if replacing the lining involves rocket science.
If the parts do not come off for washing, are they made of materials that are easy to wipe clean?
Ease of Use
Ease of use is based on your own criteria. If you will install the bassinet in your bedroom without moving it, you may not place importance on ease of assembly. If you will frequently be traveling with the bassinet, you might need to make sure that assembly and breakdown are straightforward and don’t require the use of special tools.
A bassinet that moves around the house easily isn’t necessarily ideal for travel. If you travel by airplane, the bassinet must fold into a package that can be checked or toted aboard the aircraft. If you travel by car, you may have different requirements for the bassinet’s ability to fold down into a compact size.
Take into account the fact that a bassinet that folds down may not be as stable as one that stays standing.
Different Types of Bassinets
A quick internet search will alert you to the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all bassinet concept. Different bassinets have varying functions. For that reason, it’s important to know what to look for in a bassinet before you start your search.
Once you know which features are most important for your lifestyle, it helps to know what types of bassinets are out there. Many bassinets incorporate more than one type or function into their design.
These bassinets are designed to break down quite compactly. They should be able to fit in the backseat of your card or be checked on an airplane. Because they are made for mobility, traveling with one of these bassinets shouldn’t compromise its quality or sturdiness.
Portable bassinets aren’t necessarily designed for travel outside of the house. However, they are typically light enough to bring from room to room, and they may have wheels to help them move around. They are usually easier to disassemble than other types of bassinets.
Bassinets designed for co-sleeping can be pulled up next to the parents’ bed for easy access to the baby throughout the night. Some have a rail that you can lower, and you can strap them to the mattress like a side car.
Note that even if a co-sleeper bassinet has a side rail that drops or comes off, it may be difficult to remove the baby from the bassinet if you are lying down or sitting sideways on the bed. Whether or not a mother has had a C-section, her abdominal muscles take time to regain strength. She may need to swing her legs over the side of the bed and sit up to take the baby out of the bassinet comfortably.
Some bassinets are designed with style as a priority. These may not be as portable, and they may not have features that allow for easy cleaning or folding. However, they may complement your décor better than some of the other options.
What Bassinet Features Do You Really Need?
Bassinets come with all kinds of special features to make life easier or more comfortable for parents or babies. These features may not be absolutely necessary, but they can be helpful. Below is a breakdown of some of the additional accessories and modes that are available.
Some bassinets have canopies that shield your baby from the light. While these don’t provide a pitch-black environment, they can help block the brightness from the lamp you use as you read before bedtime.
If the canopy doesn’t retract, it can be hard to remove your baby from the bassinet. On the other hand, curtains or draping fabric create a possible suffocation or strangulation hazard. Make sure that anything you use to block the light was designed for use with your bassinet.
A bassinet with a storage basket or compartment can simplify life for you. You can keep a change of clothing, diapers, wipes or toys underneath so that you don’t have to run around the house to round everything up.
A bed skirt can make the storage compartment less accessible. However, it can also hide the visible clutter.
Rocking or Movement
Some bassinets rock, while others vibrate to soothe a fussy baby. Some rocking bases can transform into stable ones. The ability to change functions can make these types of bassinets more versatile.
Other bassinets vibrate only when your baby moves. Automatic shutoff can extend the battery life and prevent your child from becoming indifferent to the soothing vibration.
Your bassinet may allow you to push a button to play pre-recorded music or white noise. Some people find this feature unnecessary because they can play music or sounds from a speaker in the room.
Although you may hesitate to provide sensory stimulation for a baby who is trying to sleep, bassinets with toys and mobiles provide entertainment when baby wakes. Using toys that are incorporated in the bassinet may also be safer than providing your own toys. Attaching a separate toy or mobile using string can pose a strangulation hazard.
Tips for Buying a Bassinet
- Check for the JPMA seal. Bassinets with the seal don’t have sharp or rough edges, plush sides that can increase the risk of suffocation or bars that are wide enough to trap the infant.
- Look for a stable, wide base. The bassinet should not be able to tip over if another child pulls on it or climbs on it. It should not rock so much that the baby rolls from his or her back to the side.
- Inspect the folding mechanisms. Any collapsible parts should lock in place and fold in such a way that they can’t pinch a body part.
- Don’t dismiss a firm mattress. A stiffer mattress is safer than a plush one.
- Realize you'll only use the bassinet temporarily. Once your infant is rolling over, sitting up or pushing up to a crawling position, the bassinet is unsafe. Each bassinet has a certain weight limit. However, keep in mind that the baby might outgrow the bassinet if he or she becomes more mobile before reaching that maximum. Knowing this can help you set a budget for your purchase.
Buying the perfect bassinet for your baby involves having a clear idea of your needs. There is no clear-cut best option, because every buyer has different personal requirements.
If you absolutely need a bassinet that can be checked on an airplane, the Graco Pack N Play is the only bassinet we reviewed that fits the bill.
If a neutral design is important to you, the Baby Bjorn Cradle looks like a piece of contemporary furniture, and the Graco Dream Suite is unobtrusive.
If it’s important to keep baby close while you’re in bed, the Arms Reach Co-Sleeper and Halo 360 Bassinest seem like the clear winners, but it may be just as easy to get baby out of the Baby Bjorn Cradle or Fisher-Price Newborn Auto Rock 'n Play Sleeper when they’re placed next to the bed.
If vibration and sounds are necessary, the Summer Infant Soothe & Sleep, Graco Dream Suite and Halo 360 Bassinest have these options.
The Halo 360 Bassinest and Baby Bjorn Cradle seem to be made of the cleanest materials.
If we had to pick the best overall bassinet, we would probably choose the Graco Dream Suite for its mid-range price and versatility. It has sounds, vibration, a canopy, toys, and a large storage compartment. Plus, it fits in with most décor and has extended use as a diaper changing table.