Choosing your baby's sleeping arrangement is a crucial decision. Your little one will spend most of their time sleeping during the first year, so finding a secure and cozy space requires thoughtful consideration.

We are often asked by parents to be, if a bassinet is essential or should your baby be placed directly into a cot?

In a nutshell, a portable bassinet is not essential but it is really convenient for you and ultimately will support a night of more restful sleep for you and your baby.

What is a bassinet?

A bassinet is a smaller sleep space for a baby than a cot, so they are great for compact spaces, apartments, and in your bedroom. Cradles, Moses Baskets, and Co Sleepers are often considered a type of bassinet.

Some bassinets rock and others have wheels, so they are portable and can be wheeled through your home to ensure your baby is next to you.

Bassinets can be made of timber, fabric, metal, water hyacinth, or rattan textiles. They come in a wide range of styles and budgets.

There are also bassinets available for travelling with your child, which can be used for camping or on the deck or out in the garden. These Travel Bassinets are often foldable and have a canopy net to keep away the creepy crawlies.

What are the benefits of using a bassinet?

There is a range of benefits for you and your baby but the most important one is the safety of your baby.

Kidsaferecommends that your baby sleeps in your room, in their own sleep space, for their first 6 to 12 months. According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, this reduces the risk of SIDS by up to 50%. Rednose explains that “room-sharing facilitates a rapid response to a baby’s needs, supports breastfeeding and is more convenient for settling and comforting of babies. It also provides closer mother-baby contact and communication.”

Often a cot may be too big to fit in your bedroom so a bassinet or a compact cot may be a better option for you, as it will fit beside your bed.

Many bassinets have wheels or castors with locks, that you can wheel around your home. This is convenient for parents as your baby is in arm’s reach, throughout the day. So, it is easier for you to take a hot shower, whip up a gastronomic masterpiece or catch up on some work from your home office. If you have a two-story home, you may wish to consider having a separate bassinet for your downstairs living space, so you are not carrying your bassinet or cradle up and down the stairs each day.

Another great benefit to a bassinet is that they are not often as deep as a cot, so it is easier to lift and lower your baby into the bassinet, especially if you have had a caesarean or you are experiencing some pain after birth. Just a safety reminder that there should be at least 20cm between the top of your mattress and the top rail of your bassinet. Some Co Sleeper Cradles have no barrier and this has resulted in fatal injuries to babies, as they suffocate between your bed and the cradle. A safety barrier of this depth will reduce the risk of your baby falling out of the bassinet or falling between your bed and the cradle. If you are using a Co Sleeper remember to lift the drop side when your baby sleeps to keep your baby safe.

bassinet with mother

What should I look for when buying a bassinet?

In New Zealand and Australia, there is no regulatory standard that governs the design of a bassinet. So, there are no safety standards for bassinets. Unfortunately for this reason there are many bassinets that are unsafe and poorly made. When you are buying a bassinet, it is important to check the following:

1. Does the bassinet comply with the European Standard EN 1130-1 & EN 1130-2 or the American Standard ASTM F2 194 -16 Consumer Safety Specifications for Bassinets and Cradles?

As there is no Australian Standard it is important to ensure the bassinet you are buying meets a recognised international standard.

2. Does the bassinet have entrapment hazards or holes that could trap your baby’s fingers, toes or head?

Entrapment hazards can cause serious injuries or death in infants as they are so small and can easily trap themselves in holes and gaps that are not safe. (note: not all gaps are dangerous as the uniform slats on a cot are regulated by the Australian Standard)

This of particular concern with the new and dangerous rattan baskets that are being sold online in NZ and Australia, at the moment. They unfortunately are fraught with danger as they have holes and gaps that are not uniform or tested where babies can easily trap themselves, fatally.

3. Is the bassinet stand strong and steady or can they easily tip over?

There have been many recalls of Moses Baskets and Stands that have tipped because they are designed poorly. Unfortunately, there are still many available to purchase where the stands are flimsy MDF cross-over X frame stands that easily tip over, causing severe injuries to babies. So, look for stands that are firm and do not tip easily.

4. Is the mattress in the bassinet a firm and breath eze mattress?

Many bassinets come with a soft, foam mattress which is hazardous for your baby. It is important that your baby’s mattress complies with the Australian Standard for Mattresses AS/NZS 8811-1:2013 – Sleep Surface Test For Firmness and is not made from foam which is toxic for your baby.

5. Does the bassinet mattress angle or incline?
A baby’s sleep space must never angle or incline more than 10 degrees. There are many sleep spaces for newborns which promote inclined support to reduce the symptoms of colic but these products create a high risk of asphyxiation as infants are placed in a position of ‘chin to chest’. To learn more about bassinet mattress and the dangers of inclined products watch this: Click to watch

If you are looking for something stylish and innovative there are options for beautiful and safe bassinets like the Kaylula Co Sleeper Cradle so you don’t need to compromise. We have also designed an innovative cot that grows with your baby, so it begins the journey with your child as a round bassinet and grows into a cot, a toddler bed and a table & chairs. For more information see the Sova Cot available in Classic.