Bassinets appear on many baby registries and must-have lists, but you may wonder whether you need one for your new baby and why. Baby bassinets provide a place for young infants, typically those younger than 4 months, to sleep or rest. A thin, firm mattress provides a sleeping space. Choose a bassinet that meets your needs for portability, size and functionality.
Bassinets are an ideal sleeping spot for a young infant. Most bassinets are quite portable, allowing you to keep the baby close by as you go about your day. Current American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations suggest that babies sleep in the same room as their parents, and bassinets can allow this without taking up the space of a crib.
Two basic types of bassinets are commonly used today, with minimal variations. They are traditionally a basket-shaped baby bed, placed on a stand with wheels. In some cases, the basket may remove from the base to allow you to lift it off and move it if desired. A modern twist on the classic bassinet relies on placing a sleeping surface in a play yard. While the traditional bassinet is not usable once the baby is more than a few months old, the play yard can be used as a play pen until the baby is around 35 lbs.
Bassinets are intended for newborns and young infants. Once your baby is sitting up or rolling over, the bassinet is no longer safe or appropriate. Typically, you can expect to use a bassinet for around three to four months, although some infants may be able to use them longer. Check the weight limit on your bassinet as well. According to the Women’s Health Care Topics website, most can be used with an infant up to 15 lbs., but be certain to check your bassinet’s instruction manual.
A basic basket style bassinet may include a sun canopy and a storage basket or shelf. If you plan to use your bassinet on the porch or in the garden, a canopy is especially helpful. Play yard-style bassinets often include a diaper changing surface, storage for changing supplies and may even have a light for nighttime diaper changes.
Since bassinets are not used for long and have no moving parts, they are a good piece of baby gear to buy second-hand. If shopping for a second-hand bassinet, you should check that it is structurally sound and make sure there is no damage to the mattress. Look for loose or broken supports in the basket itself as well as the frame. Check a play yard-style bassinet both fully assembled and broken down for storage or carrying, looking especially carefully at the frame and hinges.