Beautiful bassinets, classsic cradles, magnificent moses baskets, practical portable cribs, and convenient co-sleepeers - there are so many options to choose from. Select the ideal slumbering spot for your precious bundle of baby!
Your new baby deserves the very best, and that includes a place the sleep, play and rest that’s cozy and inviting. When you purchase a bassinet or cradle for your bundle of joy, you’re providing a warm, nurturing environment that also makes it easy on Mom and Dad. They’re portable, they ensure your baby is within arm’s reach at all times, and they’re at a height that makes it easy to lift baby in and out. It’s time to put away the bassinet or cradle when your baby reaches 18 pounds, can sit up, or starts turning over—whichever comes first. Now you just have to decide which model is right for you!
Choosing a Bassinet
Seeing a baby sleeping peacefully in a bassinet is one of the true joys of new parenthood. A wicker bassinet adds a classsic touch for any nursery. It’s essential that you purchase a wicker bassinet that’s sturdy so that your heirloom holds up for generations to come.
The style of your bassinet is determined mostly by the bassinet bedding. You can choose virtually any style that you like - from eyelet to toile to solid colors. For your convenience, look for bassinets that come complete with a bassinet liner, bassinet skirts, bassinet sheets and netting if you prefer. It’s smart to purchase an additional couple of sheets for emergency changes. In addition to adding elegance to your bassinet, a bassinet skirt provides the perfect covering for under-bassinet storage—or a built-in shelf that some bassinets come with.
If you want a bassinet with wheels for easy portability, make sure that the wheels lock into place. For parents with little room to spare for baby equipment—or who need the ultimate in portability—select a folding bassinet. Make sure that the material, which composes the bassinet, is machine-washable.
Many baby bassinets come with hoods to protect baby’s eyes from the light. Look for products with retractable and/or detachable hoods so you don’t have to work around a non-moveable hood when getting baby into and out of the bassinet.
Picking Out a Cradle
There’s something about a cradle that makes many parents feel sentimental. If you select one of high quality, you’ll enjoy using your new cradle so much that you’ll want to pass it down to your children and grandchildren so they can rock their own babies in it.
Wood baby cradles are the traditional choice and enhance the beauty of any room. Cradles are available in two sizes. If you plan to keep your baby there for a while choose the larger size. Always make sure that your infant wooden cradle has smooth edges all around it—and especially on the inside where your baby will sleep. Baby wooden cradles often have slats, and like cribs, the slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart to ensure that baby’s head doesn’t get stuck. Part of the appeal of a cradle is the rocking element, which soothes babies. It’s a good idea, however, to select a model that allows the rocking cradle to lock when not being used.
Because you’ll be using your cradle multiple times a day, you’ll undoubtedly want a product whose style you love. With the many finishes and designs available, there’s sure to be one that suits your taste. If you’re looking for a glamorous addition to your baby’s room, consider the charm of a wrought iron cradle. Like wooden cradles, iron cradles are available in several colors/finishes so you can select your favorite.
If you’d like a two-in-one product for maximum usage, look for a cradle that transitions into a gliding loveseat for your toddler.
Understanding the Differences
Though bassinets and cradles are usually lumped together, there are some differences between the two. Bassinets are generally made of natural fibers such as wicker. They tend to be a little smaller and lighter then cradles and therefore more mobile. Many come with wheels, some removable enabling the bassinet to double as a rocking cradle. Cradles on the other hand, are generally made of wood and manufactured materials. They are most often larger than bassinets and more stationary. Most cradles rock from side-to-side on two floor rockers, while others are made with the frame suspended on hooks creating a gentle swaying movement. The rocking motion of both cradles and some bassinets is designed to comfort your baby and help him sleep.
Other Options to Consider:
Co-sleepers are great for those in-middle-of-the-night feedings. A co-sleeper attaches to the side of a bed allowing your baby to stay close to you at night without actually being in bed with you. They allow both you and your baby to enjoy the benefits of being close by without you having to worry about rolling over.
Portable cribs are great in the nursery, around the house, in grandma’s house and during travel. These mini cribs come in many styles and finish options.
Moses Baskets are lightweight and portable, the perfect size for your infant and a great way to keep your new baby with you anywhere in the house.
Selecting Safe Products
Naturally, you want a bassinet or cradle that you adore, but your first concern should be safety. Follow these guidelines to ensure that you bring home a safe product for your baby.
- Look for products that meet or exceed U.S. safety standards. Products that have been endorsed by the JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association) are good choices.
- Sturdy construction is crucial. They should have a wide, solid base to provide support.
- The same standard should be applied to a bassinet or cradle mattress that’s used with other baby furniture: It should be firm and fit snugly into the base. If you can fit two fingers between the mattress and the side of the furniture, the mattress is too small and could pose a danger to your baby.
- To ensure a properly fitted mattress, pick products that come with a mattress included.
- Carefully note the product description to ensure that your infant bed comes with everything you think it does.
- Send in the product registration card that comes with your baby gear so that the manufacturer can reach you in case of a problem or recall.
- Always pay attention to weight limits. Exceeding the weight limit on your bassinet or bed cradle could cause the structure to weaken or collapse.
The Bottom Line
Bassinets and cradles are the perfect first bed for your infant. If you select heirloom-quality products, they can be passed down to future generations. Both come in virtually limitless styles that you can customize with color choice. Always heed safety guidelines associated with cradles and bassinets.
Our Mom Expert
Caron Webber, 37, is the mother of five children, ages 2 to 12.
“When I was pregnant with my first child, my parents brought me the cradle that they had used with me and my brothers. The problem was that while the mahogany wood was still beautiful, the mattress was hideously discolored and stank to high heaven. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that there was no way I would put my new baby in that thing. I told a friend of mine about this dilemma, and she suggested that I have a new mattress and bedding custom-made for it. I didn’t know something like that was possible, but it turned out to be really easy and affordable. The best part was that I genuinely loved my ‘new’ cradle, and my parents were thrilled that I was using a family heirloom.”