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How To Choose Cradles & Bassinets

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Expectant parents are tasked with a near endless list of items to purchase in preparation for the arrival of their little one. Cradles and bassinets are one such example.

Understanding the differences in products to find the most suitable ones possible can be overwhelming. To help you make one of the most critical decisions – what your newborn baby will sleep in – we’ve created this helpful guide for how to choose cradles & bassinets.

What is the difference between a cradle and a bassinet?

Cradles look similar to a box and are often made of wood. They have been used for centuries for holding sleeping babies. Classic designs sit low to the ground with rounded rockers on the bottom for rocking the baby to sleep. Contemporary cradle designs feature hammock or padded styles in and sit higher from the ground. They have many styles, features, and options available.

Typically, bassinets resemble a basket that sits upon a raised base. They allow a parent to reach over from the side easily to tend the baby inside. They have many styles, features, and options available. As with the cradle, they also have various options from which to choose.

Brown Rocking Solid Wood Cradle

Brown Rocking Solid Wood Cradle

Brown Rocking Solid Wood Cradle

Brown Rocking Solid Wood Cradle

Brown Rocking Solid Wood Cradle

Brown Rocking Solid Wood Cradle

White Classic Metal Bassinet

White Classic Metal Bassinet

Gray Classic Metal Bassinet

Gray Classic Metal Bassinet

White Classic Metal Plastic Bassinet

White Classic Metal Plastic Bassinet

What Special Features to Look For in a Cradle?

  • Storage – Some bassinets come with storage underneath for easy reach of diapers, wipes, and clothes.
  • Portability – wheels, castors, and lift-and-go models allow you to move about from room to room.
  • Auto-Movement – battery or electric mechanism vibrate or rock the cradle or bassinet to soothe the baby.
  • Multi-functional – co-sleepers have a drop-side that allows access to the baby when secured to the side of the bed. Some units transform into a changing station when the infant is not sleeping.
  • Canopy & Cover – in sunny rooms or if you are using outdoors, a stiff cover or canopy can block sun and light from disturbing baby.
  • Sounds, Lights, & Toys – many of the upgraded units come with music, nature sounds, lights, and soft mobile toys to soothe the baby.

Are there safety guidelines I should follow when choosing cradles and bassinets?

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests parents allow babies to sleep close by them in the same room for the first six months. Both cradles and bassinets provide the perfect option to enable the baby to sleep alongside the parent’s bed without sleeping the bed with them.

However, to ensure maximum safety, always buy certified products and avoid those that have been in the family for generations, because chances are it isn’t meeting today’s safety standards.

Certified items must meet the standards set by ASTM International, such as the maximum 2 3/8 inches allowed for slat spacing. Also, check for product recalls frequently.

Are there weight limits for cradles and bassinets?

Both cradles and bassinets are used to give newborn babies a safe place to sleep but on to the point where they are ready to move safely to their crib. While the manufacturer will have a weight and age range for their specific product, most cradles and bassinets suggest a limit of between 15 to 20 pounds. Of course, some babies will reach developmental milestones physically well before the weight limit, such as rolling over and need to be moved to a crib for safety reasons.

What is the age limit for using a cradle or bassinet?

As with the weight limit, manufacturers will offer suggested age limits for their cradle and bassinet products. The typical age suggestion by leading pediatric groups is 4 to 6 months or until the baby starts to roll over or wiggle about on their own. Bassinets are prone to tipping over, so it is best to move the baby to the crib as soon as it appears they are at risk. This is one of the downsides to purchasing a cradle or bassinet, they only provide a short period of use for the child’s life.

What are the advantages of using a cradle or bassinet for my newborn?

  • Smaller than a crib and easier to situate in the parent’s bedroom.
  • Easier to move around the house than a crib.
  • Newborns seem comforted by snug spaces mimicking the womb.
  • Bassinets are convenient for postpartum moms easing the need to bend over and pick the baby up.
  • Both cradle and bassinet cost less than a crib.

What are best cradles and bassinets made of?

You’ll find cradles and bassinets made of wood or plastic with quilted fabric or netted sides and metal bases. The most popular ones with parents and experts today are bassinets with open netting on all sides of the sleeping compartment to allow airflow and to cut down on suffocation risk – no matter which you choose. Check to make sure the product you select is made of non-flammable, non-toxic materials to keep baby safe.

Brown Rocking Solid Wood Cradle

Brown Rocking Solid Wood Cradle

Brown Solid Wood Glider Cradle

Brown Solid Wood Glider Cradle

Gray Modern Metal Breathable Mesh Bassinet

Gray Modern Metal Breathable Mesh Bassinet

Brown Metal Rocking Bassinet

Brown Metal Rocking Bassinet

Brown Pink Metal Breathable Mesh Bassinet

Brown Pink Metal Breathable Mesh Bassinet

Blue Open Top Plastic Bassinet

Blue Open Top Plastic Bassinet

Are there different cradle & bassinet styles?

When searching for the perfect cradle or bassinet, you’ll find they come in a range of baby-related themes such as animals, angels, hearts, and nursery rhymes. As well as the popular nature-based Scandinavian products in organic materials and light colors. Lastly, there are always those cradles and bassinets fashioned to fit in with the parent’s décor in traditional, modern, and other décor styles.

What type of mattress do I need for a cradle or bassinet?

Some cradles and bassinets come with mattresses, and some do not. Either way, the mattress your baby is to sleep on must be supportive. And need to be supported by the base from edge to edge on all sides with no dips or wrinkles. Make sure the sheet and mattress fit snugly against all edges of the cradle or bassinet. It should be no more than 1 ½ inches thick and relatively hard to avoid suffocation.

What do cradles & bassinets cost?

For the most basic cradle or bassinet, prices begin at around $30 and run well beyond $350 for high-quality models with an expansive array of features and options. If you plan to use the cradle or bassinet for other children you will be adding to your growing family, you may justify a higher priced model. However, keep in mind if you are using for only 4 to 6 months, you may want to spend a comparable amount.

You’ll find cradles and bassinets made of wood or plastic with quilted fabric or netted sides and metal bases. The most popular ones with parents and experts today are bassinets with open netting on all sides of the sleeping compartment to allow airflow and to cut down on suffocation risk—no matter which you choose. Check to make sure the product you select is made of non-flammable, non-toxic materials to keep baby safe.

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