What Is the Purpose of a Bassinet?

By Contributing Writer
What Is the Purpose of a Bassinet?

Are you having your first baby? You may be wanting to know more about bassinets. Find out what they are, whether they're safe and what features to look for.

What is a Bassinet?

A bassinet is a basket-shaped sleeping space for infants. They can be round, oblong, tall, short, soft or firm. They provide an alternative to crib sleeping for newborns and can be a convenient option for parents.

Benefits to Using a Bassinet

There are many benefits to using a bassinet. New parents often find it eases their minds to keep a newborn in their own room, but it's not always practical when using a crib. One of the biggest benefits to the bassinet is that it is smaller than a crib, allowing parents to keep it in the bedroom or other common area. They are also more portable, which is important if your family needs to stay in a hotel or with relatives. Another benefit to a bassinet is that it provides a smaller sleeping area, allowing babies to feel cozy and safe. Newborns are used to being in a confined environment and typically show a preference for smaller spaces. Many bassinets have wheels, allowing you to easily move them around the house. This is wonderful for a new mom, who shouldn't be carrying furniture around. Just make sure to lock the wheels when they aren't in use. Lastly, some bassinets have hoods, which are a wonderful way to keep out some of the noise and light in the room. There is no reason to keep a baby in complete darkness, but bright lights can be overstimulating for them.

Safety Considerations When Using a Bassinet

The biggest safety concern with a bassinet is that the sides are lower than that of a crib. A bassinet is only safe up to about four months of age, but you should always check the safety guidelines on your product to be certain. Once a baby is able to move to sitting, the bassinet is most definitely not a safe option. The cozy atmosphere that was listed as being a benefit can also be a danger for small infants. Just like with a crib, there should be no extra blankets, pillows, stuffed animals or other objects in the bassinet with the baby. Because there is so much less space in the bassinet, the risk of smothering on those items is greater. It may seem cute and cozy to add lots of padding and pillows, but it is not necessary or safe. Make sure to choose a bassinet that is on a stand so parents aren't constantly leaning over to pick up the baby. This also removes the temptation to put the bassinet, unsecured, on a higher surface where it could fall. Double check to make sure that all legs are properly secured in place and that the basket has no danger of toppling over or falling off. As with any infant products, make sure that your bassinet meets all current safety guidelines. An older family heirloom may have sentimental value, but may also put your child at risk. Use antiques and heirlooms to showcase stuffed animals, blankets or clothes and keep the infant in newer products.

Types of Bassinets

Bassinets come in all shapes, sizes and colors. These are just a few of the more popular features you may find: - Folding. Many playards comes with a bassinet insert. These versatile pieces of furniture fold for easy storage and transport. - Co-sleeping. Some bassinets have one side that folds down allowing the baby to "co-sleep" without actually being in bed with the parents. This is a nice option for breastfeeding moms or those who have had a c-section. - Rocking. Some bassinets come with fancy options such as rocking or music. Fun in theory, but generally unnecessary. - Moses baskets. Moses baskets are like soft-sided baskets that sit on the floor and allow you to carry the child around. Avoid these with pets and younger siblings. - Hoods and Drapes. Many bassinets have hoods that pull up for partial shade or drapes for shading (and decoration). The difference is mainly cosmetic.

How to Decide About a Bassinet

If you're trying to decide if you need a bassinet, you'll want to consider your living space, your budget and your personal parenting style. Unless you choose a playard with bassinet insert, most bassinets will only be in use for a few months. They can be an expensive investment unless you're planning on multiple children. Think about whether you'll want the baby in the same room and, if so, whether a crib will fit. Decide if you need a place for the baby to sleep in the living room or kitchen during the day. These factors can help you weigh the costs against the benefits. Once you decide that you want a bassinet, how do you decide what kind to get? Unless you've got an unlimited budget, skip the frills. Rocking and music are unnecessary (you can provide those yourself) and may even be distracting for an infant who is trying to sleep. Fancy bassinets look lovely in a nursery, but are entirely too expensive for most families who will use them only a short time. Do choose a bassinet that raises the baby off the floor, where it can be cold and easily accessible to other small family members. If you'll be moving it to room to room (without stairs!), wheels can be useful. Most families will get the most benefit from a playard, which can be used up until about 20 lbs. They are handy for keeping newly crawling infants in one spot and away from potential hazards. They're also great for keeping older siblings and pets away from the little one.