Do you need a bassinet?
Why do I need a bassinet? I thought you just said that the cot can be used as a bassinet? This is one of the most common questions we are asked in store from first time parents.
No, you do not NEED a bassinet, but there are a lot of advantages to having one over using a cot. As long as you choose a safe one.
First and foremost, both are completely safe when used properly. I advise our customers, that it’s a matter of personal preference in regards to convenience and your peace of mind.
It is actually recommended by government agencies, “baby sleep experts” and Kidsafe state that your newborn should sleep in the same room as you for the first six to twelve months from coming home from hospital. They even go as far as suggesting that this could reduce the risk of “SIDS” by around 50%. You can read more about that here. They also recommend baby sleeps in a cot. The reason is that we do not have Australian Safety Standards for bassinets.
Bassinet vs Cot
With a cot, unless you have a massive master bedroom, you usually can not generally fit a cot in your bedroom. Even if you can, once baby is ready to move to the nursery, you wont fit a standard size cot through a standard doorway. The cot would need to be disassembled and reassembled in the nursery.
A bassinet provides a smaller and more cosy sleep space for baby. As a result, they may feel safer and sometimes sleep longer and deeper.
They are more portable, some even with lockable wheels, so moving them from room to room is a great advantage too! This can be handy even during the day in larger homes or multi-level houses or town houses. I mean, who wants to have to run up and down stairs every time you hear a cry? A portable bassinet can easily be moved down stairs when needed.
In addition, bassinets reduce anxiety in mums too. Let me explain. Having baby with you in your own room, right next to you means that you don’t have to reply on an audio or video baby monitor to see why baby is crying or even to put your own mind at peace in the middle of the night.
When baby wakes during the night, it is much easier to feed and comfort baby when baby is right next to you in their bassinet. If they were in another room, this means getting out of bed and going to another room to deal with what ever the issue may be.
The same goes during the day. Keep in mind that babies spend up to 70 percent of the time sleeping. being able to move a bassinet around the house with you is a big benefit.
How Long can I use a Bassinet?
Whilst some stores will tell you that a baby can use a bassinet or cradle or co-sleeper or moses basket for up to 6 months, the reality is that they have to be transitioned as soon as they can sit up. That can be as little as 3 months.
If you were choose a cot, then the same rule applies to when you should lower your mattress level and convert it to cot mode.
Some parents, simply are not in the financial position to buy their nursery furniture all at once either. There is a lot to setting up a nursery. The cost of a cot, change table, chest of drawers, tall boys etc. can add up! Buy choosing a bassinet, you can take a few months longer before buying that cot and use the bassinet in the mean time and enjoy all those practical benefits from day 1.
If you are having multiple children, to me, a bassinet is a no brainer. When the second child comes along, just purchase a new mattress and you’re good to go.
There are other options too. There are mini-cots that are smaller than a full sized cot if space in your master bedroom is an issue, but you do not want to spend money on a bassinet for only 3 months use. Or you can even go with a timber folding cot which is still portable enough to move between rooms.
Types of Bassinets
Now, if you have decided that a bassinet is the right choice for your specific needs, there is different types that you will need to decide on. Cradles, co-sleepers and even Moses Baskets are three of the main types of bassinets.
Co-sleeper bassinets have become a very popular choice. Besides a co-sleeper bassinet being a parenting strategy, there is also a great convenience advantage. That is that they attach to your bed. They will have a side that can drop. As a result, when baby wakes or is due for a feed, you can roll over, drop the side and have easy access to baby from your bed in the middle of the night.
They all can be made from metal, timber, mesh fabric. Bassinets and Moses baskets can also be made from hyacinth or rattan.
There are also portable travel bassinets. These are usually metal frames with mesh fabric. Please do not assume that a travel bassinet or portable one that folds is designed for long terms use. These are often designed for short term use such as holidays or times away.
Mesh fabrics on your bassinet, regardless of type are often a great choice. This is because mesh offers breathability / air-flow and visibility. As a result, better safety.
More on Safety Standards
It may surprise you that Australia doesn’t have any mandatory or non-mandatory safety standards for bassinets. I do not know why – it has always puzzled me.
At the bottom of this post, I have put together an FAQ which covers “how do I choose a safe bassinet” for my baby. Make sure you check that out towards the bottom of this article.
In my experience, just like cots, the mattress is one of the most important things to evaluate when choosing a bassinet. If you’re using a hand-me-down, then you must use a brand new bassinet mattress for safety reasons. It must also be the right size and shape leaving no gaps.
If you’re buying brand new, the bassinet mattress must be breathable fibre. Not Foam. It must be comfortable but not too soft as this is a risk also. Too hard or too thin and it’s not going to be comfy and baby wont sleep as well. This is where I tell all of our customers to spend time checking before choosing a bassinet.
How do I make a bassinet a safe sleep space?
The best way to safely sleep your baby in a bassinet is:
- Do not sleep baby on their tummy or side, always on their back.
- There can be no loose objects or additional unnecessary linen on your baby’s cot.
- The bassinet mattress must be firm but comfy, breathable and easy to remove and clean.
- Do not incline the bassinet more than 10 degrees.
If you decide that a bassinet is the right choice for your specific needs, then please make sure you do not go with the cheapest option available.
The best way to choose the right strategy for your exact needs is to find true experts and ask for help.
I can not stress the importance of getting the right advice from true experts, not just a sales assistant working in a large multi-store who may not even be working there next month.
We have a full team of highly trained staff on helping you decide if a bassinet is best for you and then choose the best bassinet for your needs. Do not hesitate to seek advice from us. We are here to help.
How do I choose a safe bassinet?
Does the bassinet comply to Others Safety Standards?
Whilst Australia may not have safety standards, a good bassinet may comply to EN 1130-1 & EN 1130-2 or the American Standard ASTM F2 194 -16 Consumer Safety Specifications for Bassinets and Cradles
Are there any entrapment hazards or holes?
Some poorly designed bassinets can have entrapment hazards that could trap your baby’s fingers, toes or head. Check for these when choosing a bassinet or cradle.
Is the bassinet mattress firm whilst comfy and breathable.
If a bassinet mattress is too thin, then it's not comfy. On the other hand, if it's too soft, it could be a suffocation risk. Do not buy a foam mattress, only choose breathable fibre to ensure breathability is as high as possible. Make sure that the mattress complies with the Australian Standard for Mattresses AS/NZS 8811-1:2013
Does the bassinet have an Incline?
An angled bassinet can be helpful with colic. Some are adjustable. At the same time, never incline one more than 10 degrees down at the feet. This is not safe as it raises the risk of asphyxiation.
How sturdy is the frame of the bassinet?
This is important. Believe it or not, some bassinet frames sold (usually online only) can be flimsy and even be at risk of collapse. Of course, always make sure it has been assembled correctly before use also.
How Deep should the bassinet be?
The vertical distance between the top surface of the mattress and the upper edge of the bassinet enclosure should be no less than 25 cm.
About the Author
Frank is a founding owner of Bubs n Grubs. He is also the sole author of the Bubs n Grubs Baby Blog. He has been personally evaluating baby products & testing them before offering them to our customers since 2009. In addition, he is consistently giving manufacturer’s feedback & product development advice, reviewing & getting customer feedback. He has been doing this since the business started in 2009. He is proud to be one of the rare baby store owners who regularly engages with customers in store. Frank values the constant feedback and regularly seeks it out. He has been featured on the Morning Show & the Today Show on Channel 7 and Channel 9 and is a recognised expert in baby products as a result.