Bassinet vs. Crib
Newborns sleep for 16-18 hours a day, and infants sleep for 12-16 hours. That's including naps and a longer stretch of sleep at night. With all that snoozing, many parents notice their baby outgrowing bassinets and wonder when is the right time to switch their baby from sleeping in the same room to sleeping in a crib in the baby's own room.
The answer depends on your baby. There are several developmental milestones to keep in mind before you and your baby make this change.
What is a bassinet?
A bassinet is a tall, small bed for your baby to sleep in. The frame is metal, plastic, or wood, and the sleeping area has side walls made of mesh.
Bassinets come with precisely sized mattresses. They have no gaps between the mattress and sides to prevent your baby from getting trapped. Firm mattresses are safe for your baby.
Manufacturers certify their product for use with babies weighing up to 10, 15, or 20 pounds. Regardless of your baby's weight, you must stop using the bassinet when your baby starts rolling over or pushes themselves up on their hands and knees.
What is a crib?
A crib is a bed for infants and young children. They're usually made of wood or metal and have high, barred sides.
Most crib mattresses have to be bought separately, but some cribs come with one. A crib's height can be changed as your baby grows.
Some parents may think cribs are for older babies and consider only a bassinet or cradle for their newborn's first sleep space.
Take into account that your baby will outgrow these small beds in 2 or 4 months. But if you choose a crib, you can use it until your baby learns to climb out of it. Some cribs also convert to toddler beds.
A crib is the safest place for a baby to sleep. Cribs are heavy and stable. They won't topple over, but unlike bassinets, they can't easily be moved around.
Your baby spends most of their day in their bassinet or crib. It's very important to make this a safe place.
Sleep safety is key—there are 3,500 sleep-related deaths of babies every year in the U.S. Most of these deaths are caused by sudden infant death syndrome, accidental suffocation, or unknown causes. Keep your baby safe by following these recommendations:
- Your baby should always sleep on their back.
- Blankets are a suffocation hazard. Your baby should have properly fitted sleepwear—a one-piece sleeper, wearable blanket, or sleep sack.
- Remove all pillows, soft toys, or bumper pads from the bassinet, cradle, or crib before placing your baby inside.
- The mattress should be firm, with a fitted sheet. There should be no gap between the mattress and the side walls.
- Your baby should not sleep in your bed with you—ever. It's extremely dangerous. If you bring them to your bed for feeding or comforting, return them to their own sleeping space.
- Remove all necklaces, bibs, and pacifiers with cords before putting your baby in their crib or bassinet. These are strangulation risks.
- Never let your baby sleep on a waterbed, couch, or sofa. They're suffocation hazards.
Because your baby will sleep for a large part of the day, a bassinet, cradle, or crib is an important part of their life. Choosing a comfortable and secure sleeping place for your baby is necessary. It's also very important to make sure all caregivers for your baby know the rules to keep your baby safe while sleeping.
When to Move My Baby From Bassinet
Many babies start sleeping through the night at the age of 4-6 months. At this age, they're able to go through the night without needing to be fed, and you start to enjoy longer stretches of uninterrupted sleep. During this stage, your baby is also growing rapidly and might start to outgrow their bassinet.
There's no guide to tell you exactly when to move your baby to their crib, but there are some ways to tell if your baby is ready to make the switch:
- Your baby's age. The 6-month mark is when most parents say that their baby is outgrowing their first sleeping space. Some babies grow faster than others, and you might find their legs are getting longer by the day. At this age, it's usually ok to make the switch.
- Your baby's movement during the night. Take a look at how much your baby's moving during the night. If they're shifting positions and rolling over, it's time to move them. A space that is too small for your baby, like a bassinet, can be dangerous for an adventurous sleeper because they can be smothered against the sides of their little bed.
- Your baby's weight. Your current bassinet likely has a weight limit printed on it somewhere, or you can check the manufacturer's website to find the weight limit. Follow the instructions on your bassinet to see if it is safe for your baby to continue sleeping in the bassinet at their current weight.
- Your current night's sleep. How much are you able to sleep when sleeping with your baby next to you in their bassinet? Do you or your partner wake up every few hours when the baby fusses? Or are you getting the right amount of sleep? Ask yourself these questions when you're deciding if it's time to move your baby to a crib.
Tips to Transition Your Baby From Bassinet to Crib
You may be surprised at your own reaction when it comes to changing your baby's sleep location. You've gotten used to having your baby right next to you when they start crying, and as your baby grows up, making the change can be emotional.
It's recommended that you sleep in the same room as your baby for at least the first 6 months and up to your baby's first birthday for safety reasons. But that doesn't mean you can't move them out of their bassinet.
These tips can help ease your mind and make the move from bassinet to crib a little easier:
- Ease your baby into the crib. Let your baby take their naps in the crib. Next, let them have a play session in their new crib. Start small and easy, and let them get used to the crib, step by step.
- Put the crib in your room. This can make the switch a little easier for parents. If you've become used to having your baby in your bedroom, try to fit the crib in your room first before moving your baby into a different room. If your bedroom is too small, try setting up a bed in the nursery so you can be near your baby when they fall asleep.
- Make your baby feel secure. Use the same sheets in the crib as you used in the bassinet. A familiar smell can help relax your baby and help them sleep. A swaddle can also help your baby with sleep, but don't do it if they switch positions at night or can roll over. It can be dangerous.
- Make sure the crib is safe. Use a firm mattress and a fitted sheet inside the crib, and don't put extra pillows, blankets, or bumper pads inside. They're a suffocation hazard for your baby. Also, raise the base of the crib high enough that you can gently place your baby on the mattress. Never drop a baby from any height.
- Use a baby monitor. Once your baby is sleeping in the crib, you might want to see and hear your baby at night for your own peace of mind. There are apps available for watching your baby too. They usually require two devices to work, like a tablet and a phone.
- Keep the routine. Routines are very comforting for babies because they come to know what to expect every day. Continue with their bedtime routine as usual. Try not to switch their sleeping location if there is an event coming up that affects their sleep schedule, like a family vacation.