“Sleep like a baby.” The phrase makes it sound like a breeze, but choosing between a bassinet vs. a crib for your little one may cause you to lose sleep. If you’re expecting and in the final trimester of your pregnancy, you must have made plenty of lists of dos and don’ts and all the must-haves for the baby after investing hours on the internet. A baby’s needs are pretty basic and are summed up by the motto: eat, sleep, repeat (with multiple trips to the diaper changing table, of course). And during this mixed-up schedule of feeding and napping, babies spend the majority of their time sleeping. This is why deciding between a bassinet vs. a crib is one of the biggest decisions and one that confuses soon-to-be parents the most.
In a way, I was lucky as I didn’t really have to choose. I got 2 pre-used bassinets from my cousins whose kids had outgrown it and later, I switched to a crib for one and a small bed for the other twin as space was a real crunch in my home back in India. But using a variety of bed arrangements for my twins eventually helped me in understanding the benefits, drawbacks, and practical challenges of both bassinets and cribs.
What is a bassinet?
What is a bassinet? In simplest terms, it’s a compact basket-like bed for infants or younger babies (up to 4-6 months). After scrolling through lots of online portals and window shopping through every baby store in my neighborhood, I’ve compiled a list of pluses and minuses about bassinets.
Advantages of choosing a bassinet
- Size: A bassinet is smaller in size than a crib and it uses less floor space, which makes it a perfect choice for a smaller bedroom.
- Cost-effective: Bassinets are cheaper than a crib and hence a pocketbook-friendly option in the initial few weeks after childbirth when you have to spend a big amount on hospital bills and other baby gear.
- Light in weight: As bassinets are simple in structure with less attachments, they are always light and easy to handle.
- Easy to assemble: You don’t need an army to install and fix a bassinet. Its simple and easy assembly helps in making one task in your mommy list easier.
- Portability: Its small size and light weight make it a portable bed for your baby in case you want to keep them in a different room during day and night time. This was my favorite feature of the bassinet.
- Convenient for parents: It’s higher than a crib or baby bed, which makes the process of putting baby on the bed easier for a new mom (and her back!).
- Easy attachments: There are bassinets available in markets that can play soothing music and gently rock and swaddle, which can help in calming a whining baby.
- Adjustable height: Some of the bassinets come with a height adjustment option. I would recommend using these if your budget permits, as it gives the convenience of adjusting the height to bed level at night when you can keep your baby close to you and bringing it to a more convenient waist height in the daytime to ease the feeding and diaper changing process.
Disadvantages of bassinets
- Shorter lifespan: The biggest drawback of a bassinet is that it can be used for a maximum of 4-6 months. As soon as your baby learns to turn, it is not safe anymore and it is time to move to a safer bed or crib. Almost 50% of newborns are put in a bassinet for the first 1 or 2 months, but this figure comes down to only 10% at the age of 6 months.
- Structural stability: A bassinet is not one of the most stable bed-structures and only suitable while babies are really small (first few months). This can be particularly important if you have older siblings who might lean on the bassinet to peep at a new baby. You also need to be vigilant about steadiness and stability when there are guests in the house to see the baby (and more so if they bring small kids).
What is a crib?
A crib is a fairly large sized bed for babies that comes with rails or sidewalls for safety purposes. A crib is more of a long-term furniture choice and is going to be a part of your home and baby nursery for 5-6 years or more.
Advantages of cribs
- Cost-effective: Although their one-time cost is higher than a bassinet, long-term usability makes cribs an overall value-for-money choice.
- Safer than bassinet: High rails on the sides of the crib ensure better safety for your little ones which is the top priority for every parent.
- Sturdier body: The strong and durable structure makes a crib a very stable and perfect pick for your baby’s nursery.
- Convertible options: Some of the cribs can also be converted to beds later, which further adds to their value.
Disadvantages of cribs
- Size and floor space: A crib takes up more floor area than a bassinet and if you don’t have enough space in your bedroom it might end up cramping the room.
- Heavier and bulky: You can’t move a crib around as easily as a bassinet.
- Permanent fixture: A crib is fixed furniture, unlike a portable bassinet.
- Expensive: The stronger and heavier structure makes it a bigger bite on your wallet.
Bassinet or crib?
What I personally liked about using bassinets for my babies is that they are compact and cozy. A bassinet keeps an infant comfortable and at the same time makes them feel safe and warm since a newborn is used to a closed nest in his mother’s womb and a bassinet is not overwhelmingly large for a tiny baby who’s just came into the world.
Bassinets were particularly convenient for me in the first few weeks after delivery because bassinets are higher compared to a crib or a bed and leaning down to pick up or put down a baby right after a C-section is not what a stitched-up body prefers, especially when you have to do this a number of times for 2 babies.
Once my babies were big enough to not fit in a small bassinet, I transitioned them gradually to a crib, which was a safer option as I have 2 really active kids who learned to flip and turn at the age of 3.5 months. And once they start to flip and turn, a bassinet is not a safe option as babies can flip and fall out. To sum up:
- If your budget and floor area in your bedroom allows, a bassinet is the best choice for the first few months for both your baby and you. Once your baby outgrows the bassinet, you can replace it with a crib, preferably a convertible one, which you can later change to a kid’s bed and settle the question of baby furniture for a good 5-6 years at least.
- If you do not wish to spend money on a new bassinet, getting a pre-cared bassinet and then selling it once your child does not need it anymore can be an option to protect your pocketbook.
Transitioning baby to crib
When to make the transition from bassinet to crib
Once your baby has reached above the safe weight limits of a bassinet, you will have to move them to a crib.
- Bassinets come with a weight limit and once the baby reaches that weight, it’s time to move to a bigger bed.
- When a baby learns to turn over on their tummy, they are no longer safe in the bassinet.
- When the baby has grown big and feels cramped in the bassinet, it means they have outgrown it.
How to transition from bassinet to crib
This transition from bassinet to crib usually happens around the age of 4-6 months and babies that age doesn’t really care much about their surroundings. But if they are sensitive ones and doesn’t quite agree with moving on, try these steps to help them in shifting to a bigger bed:
- Make the transition gradual. You can start by using the crib for daytime naps or just 1 or 2 times a day to begin with. And when you’re confident that your baby has gotten used to his new crib, try to let him sleep there at night.
- If you plan to let them sleep in a different room, do not start putting them to sleep on their own from day one.
- Try putting their crib in your bedroom for a few days or weeks before moving it to their nursery.
- Alternatively, you can sleep in their room for a few nights until they are comfortable with the new crib and you’re confident they are relaxed and at ease in both the new crib and new room.
- You can also put the baby in the crib during playtime to familiarize him with it and spend some with time him in his nursery so he starts feeling safe there.