The lowdown on bassinets, cradles, and other sleeping spots
A bassinet or cradle can be a convenient and comfortable sleeping place for your baby during her first few weeks. A crib is fine, of course, but your newborn may feel more at ease in a smaller, cozier space.
Other advantages: You can easily move these baby beds from room to room, letting you keep a close watch during naps. At night, you can put the bassinet or cradle right next to your own bed for easy feedings and comforting.
In recent years, cradles and bassinets have gained new features: You can buy ones that vibrate, are on wheels, swivel from side to side, or nestle next to your bed for co-sleeping without bed-sharing.
Travel cribs that fold into included bags have gained in popularity, as have combination cribs/play yards; both are handy for visits to Grandma’s house. If you’re leaning toward the latter option, here’s our guide on how to buy a play yard.
Meanwhile, products marketed as "sleepers" and "nappers" have proliferated. Typically small and portable, they might look like a cross between a bouncy chair and a bassinet; some resemble a mini hammock on a metal frame. Some are meant to let your baby sleep on an incline, others recline fully. However, pediatricians may have safety concerns about them (see “Important Safety Notes” below).
Babies outgrow bassinets, cradles, and sleepers quickly, at which point parents who tried to avoid buying a crib often end up getting one anyway. Play yards, used without the removable bassinet that sometimes comes with them, typically last longer; most are safe for children up to 35 inches tall who can’t yet climb out (a milestone babies reach at different times, but 18 months is typical). That said, removable bassinets that come with play yards usually have a weight limit of around 15 pounds.
Browse cribs, bassinets & beds for dozens of bassinets and beds.
Important safety notes
- Avoid bassinets and cradles with a motion or rocking feature, as these have caused suffocation when babies rolled against the edge. If you use an heirloom rocking cradle, supervise your infant while in use.
- As with a crib, a bassinet, cradle, sleeper or play yard should have a firm mattress that fits snugly without any space around the edges so a baby’s head can’t get wedged in and lead to suffocation. The American Academy of Pediatrics has not yet weighed in on the safety of these products; some pediatricians have warned parents that they are not safe for overnight sleeping. Parents should err on the side of caution and use only products that comply with safe-sleep recommendations.
- If you have pets or other young children in the house – for instance, a dog who might knock over a bassinet, a cat who might climb in, or a toddler who might try to lift your baby from a bassinet – stick with a crib.
- Moses baskets, a woven basket with handles, are often lined with puffy fabric, which raises a baby's risk for suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and are best avoided.
What it's going to cost you
Cradles, bassinets, sleepers, and portable/travel bassinets cost from $30 to $250; play yards cost from $50 to $300.
Download our illustrated guide to bassinets and cradles