Bassinets have advantages for a baby – and a parent. We explain what to look for.

A bassinet creates a cosier sleeping environment than a cot. And it’s convenient – you can move it from room to room and place it next to your bed. The downside is you’ll get at most 5 to 6 months' use from a bassinet. As soon as babies can support their own weight and lift themselves, they should go into a cot.

Sleeping safely

The safest sleeping place for a baby is a cot or bassinet beside your bed – but always make sure you put him or her to sleep on their back, to reduce the risk of cot death (SIDS).

There’s no Australian or New Zealand safety standard for bassinets. However, how it’s used may pose a greater danger than the bassinet’s construction. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 61 deaths in bassinets in the US between 2007 and 2009 and most were from suffocation by extra bedding (pillows were the main culprits). Faulty bassinets caused only a handful of deaths.

Reduce the risks

There should not be anything in the bassinet which could cover your baby’s face. This includes pillows or toys as well as extra bedding such as a bumper, duvet or quilt.

Make sure the mattress is firm and don’t use an extra mattress in the bassinet – a baby could slip under it.

Position your baby at the foot of the bassinet so they can’t slip under the covers.

Tuck in the bedding securely and make sure it comes up no higher than the baby’s shoulders.

Remove the baby’s bib before bedtime. Also remove ribbons or laces from around the neck of the baby’s clothing.

What to look for in a bassinet

When buying a bassinet, these are the things you should look for:

  • The bassinet should be sturdy and durable, with a wide base.
  • Its mattress should fit snugly around all sides with no gaps larger than 25mm.
  • There should be no sharp edges or protrusions that could hurt a baby or snag their clothing.
  • Castors make a bassinet easier to move around – but there should be lockable brakes on at least 2 of them.
  • To prevent a folding bassinet from collapsing accidentally, its legs must lock securely.
  • Mesh sides provide good ventilation.

Tip: Bassinets aren’t a necessity – your baby can go straight into a cot.