Bassinet vs Crib: Which is Better for Babies?
The first act of parenthood isn’t bringing the baby home, but rather buying baby stuff. The thing is, there are so many baby products on the market that it’s hard for first-time parents to know what their baby actually needs. For example, what’s the difference between a bassinet and a crib? And between a bassinet vs crib, which is better for a newborn?
Here’s a quick breakdown on the bassinet vs crib situation and how to pick the right one for your newborn.
What is a Bassinet?
A bassinet is a bed designed specifically for babies between birth and roughly four months old, though it’s recommended to keep babies in the same room (but not the same bed) as parents for their first six months to a year.
Bassinets are generally smaller and lighter than a crib since they’re designed for a smaller baby. The bottom of a bassinet tends to be set higher than a crib as well — usually reaching the waistline of an average adult.
What is a Crib?
According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), there are two types of cribs: full-size and non-full-size. A full-size crib is 28 inches wide by 52 inches in length, while a non-full-size crib is 55 inches or smaller than 49 ¾ inches. A non-full-size crib must also meet one of the following requirements:
- Hard sides and legs that can be removed
- Circular, hexagonal, or some other non-standard crib shape
- It can fold or collapse without being taken apart so it is smaller when not in use
- It does not have any mesh, netting, or screens like a playpen
Hospital cribs are the only exception to these rules and can be designed to meet hospital regulations or to accommodate equipment.
Bassinet vs Crib: What’s the Difference?
Both items provide a sleeping place for your baby. In very basic terms, cribs are usually bigger than bassinets. However, there are more differences than the question of size, and these should be considered when deciding which is better for the baby.
First and foremost, bassinets and cribs have two different functions.
Bassinets are explicitly designed for newborn babies to sleep in. This is why bassinets are generally smaller—they’re meant to accommodate smaller babies. Plus, they’re designed for use in the period of the baby’s life where they sleep in the same room as their parents, so the bassinet takes up less space.
Cribs are meant to be used starting roughly halfway through the baby’s first year of life when they can sleep through the night and no longer need to be in the same room as their parents.
Bassinets are also designed to be a potentially portable sleeping option for babies, even once they are older. Cribs are basically designed to be set up and then stay put in a room or nursery. Bassinets are lighter and much easier to move.
As you can guess, the timeframe for using a bassinet vs a crib is quite different, though there is no hard and fast rule.
Generally speaking, a baby will sleep in a bassinet in the earliest months of their life, typically from day one through about four months or so.
Once old enough to sleep uninterrupted and without every hour monitoring, transition the baby to a crib in their own room or nursery. Babies will sleep in the crib until they’re old enough, big enough, or skilled enough at climbing out of the crib to warrant a toddler bed.
They technically could be kept in a bassinet as they progress through those next months, but as a rule, bassinets are no longer the right choice once the baby is able to roll over and sit up because of the bassinet’s smaller size. It poses some risk to a more mobile, larger baby. The baby could topple out of the bassinet or knock it over. There’s no hard weight limit for a bassinet as well since they’re designed for younger, smaller babies. That means parents should keep an eye and responsibly transition their child to a more age-appropriate sleeping arrangement.
As you can guess, this means bassinets have a shorter lifespan than a crib. A bassinet will generally last the first five months, while a crib can last a year and a half or more.
Bassinets and cribs have different features to accommodate babies of different sizes and ages.
Bassinets have the same general design: oval-shaped with cloth sides, some with hoods or ruffled designs along the outside (but no ruffles on the inside).
Cribs are rectangular with a lower base and bars around the outside. Since the baby is older and can sleep through the night, parents won’t need to bend down as low to put them to sleep. The lower base is more functional. Bars are used around the sides to prevent babies who are old enough from sitting up and rolling over or out of the crib in their sleep. They also help prevent climbing out of the crib altogether.
Which is Best for Your Baby?
The right choice for a baby generally depends on the baby’s age.
If you have a newborn who can’t sit up or roll over yet or a young baby that cannot yet sleep through the night in a parent’s room, a bassinet is ideal.
If you have a baby that’s bigger and can sleep through the night, or a baby who has developed enough to sit up and roll over a crib is a better choice.
However, many parents opt to skip the bassinet altogether and go for a regular crib because it’s one less thing to buy. If this is the goal, it may be worth it to rent a bassinet to give the baby the comfort they need right out of the womb and keep them at arms reach in the bedroom. A larger, wide-open crib may not be as comforting as a cozy bassinet in those early months.
The cost of having a baby and buying all the furnishings they need is can get very expensive very quickly. Considering how fast babies outgrow everything, we think those high costs for quality, necessary items are ridiculous. Lux.Baby’s mission is to make the whole process more affordable for real parents, without sacrificing quality or style along the way.
To get started, check out the Lux.Baby Basics Bundle, with a bassinet and rocker that will help settle your newborn in the first few months home from the hospital.