Picking out the best baby bassinet is an emotional thing for most expecting parents. It’s also a bit of a process.
The first thing to do is figure out what you want your bassinet sitch to be… and no matter which sleeping method you choose, your little lamb needs a safe sleeping venue.
Yes, we still recommend a crib for the long-term, BUT… don’t be surprised one bit if you don’t use it at all for quite some time (as in, months). In fact, most parents end up with their baby in their bedroom for the first few months, which we highly recommend (as do most pediatricians).
You certainly can, by all means, use the crib right away after finding the best crib mattress if you choose, but most parents find putting their tiny, helpless newborns into giant, spacious, jail-like (yet well-appointed!) cribs just doesn’t feel right: it’s a bit overkill for a newborn.
Having your baby close by usually feels more reassuring than having her off in a separate room. In addition, practically speaking, middle-of-the-night feedings – whether you’re nursing or bottle-feeding – and diaper changes are WAY easier if your baby is right in the same room, nearby, versus having to schlep all over the house. Therefore, I highly recommend a temporary newborn sleeping venue that can go in your room.
Keep in mind that even the best baby bassinet (by definition, a small baby bed with low walls) can only be used until 6 months or so; once your baby can sit up (around 6 months, give or take), she’ll have to go into something with higher walls, such as a Pack ‘n Play or a real crib.
The Best Baby Bassinet for Newborn Sleeping Arrangements
So, what should you use? We’ve broken down your rooming-in options into 5 basic categories:
- Portable Bassinets are, well, portable. We’ve zeroed in on the most portable options, though, and put a lot of emphasis on pricing for this category. This group of sleepers is the “quick and dirty” route to securing a place for your baby to sleep in your room (that you can also move around your home quickly and easily). These are essentially our budget/economy picks.
- Play Yards are the pack ‘n plays and similar products. Your mom probably calls them play pens, lol. These are also economical, but more cumbersome to move around frequently. Whether you use one for everyday overnight sleep or not, you’ll want one anyway (for travel). Trust me on that.
- Co-Sleepers are bassinet-like, but they are distinct because they’re designed to be right with you, i.e., immediately adjacent to, if not attached to, your own bed.
- Bed-sharing doesn’t require anything — and in many ways using nothing is ideal.
- Bassinets are your classic, old fashioned in-room sleepers. This category is a little more costly and tends to be less portable — but because they are more “permanent,” you might get a little more use out of them. Plus, they’re pretty, hah.
Given that families use so many different sleeping arrangements, there isn’t a single best baby bassinet for everyone. Instead, finding your best baby bassinet entails planning where you’d like baby to (not) sleep (hah!), deciding what features are most important to you (portability, proximity to your bed, size, etc.), and determining your ideal price range. Ready to dig in? Let’s go.
Option 1: A Portable Baby Bassinet
Our Top Economy Picks:
$ — Dream On Me Karley Bassinet ~ $59
This thing is easy to assemble, easy to move around, and surprisingly sturdy. Parents with older kids (toddlers) or pets (especially cats — see image below, and thank you Ashley from Amazon reviews for the laugh) love the zip-up top, and many use this for both a bedside bassinet as well as travel (car travel, at least). You won’t find any bells or whistles here, but really, you don’t need any. This is a fantastic pick with *very few complaints and it comes at a great price.
$ — Chicco LullaGo Anywhere ~ $119
The Chicco LullaGo can be used in your room and is also great for car travel. It has partial mesh siding, assembles and disassembles quickly and easily, and comes with a handy travel bag. Also available in the “Nest” version ($159), which has a canopy.
The siding for the LullaGo bassinet is machine washable (air dry), and the set comes with one sheet (which is nice, because a frequent complaint with the previous version was the lack of sheets).
Newer on our radar: Juno Bassinet ~$148
This recent addition to the bassinet marketplace checks a lot of boxes, and we’re pretty excited about it. It’s a lightweight, portable bedside sleeper that’s also eco-friendly, fully recyclable, and incredibly sturdy.
Out of the box, this collapsible bassinet made from corrugated cardboard (you can read more about this material here) sets up in ~13 seconds (really, no lie) and it’s ultra-portable. You could use it at the bedside overnight and easily transition around the house wherever you need/want it throughout the day. It even comes with a handy travel box with a suitcase-like handle, so it would work well for overnight/car trips, too. (Alone, the bassinet weighs ~11 pounds, and in the case, it’s about ~14 pounds, much lighter than a pack ‘n’ play.)
The sleeping pad that comes with the Juno has a foam interior and woven polyester exterior, and also comes with a zip-around organic cotton cover that’s water repellent and removable for washing. *Like the other products in this category, you can use this until ~4-6 months, whenever your baby starts sitting up.
Although it’s technically a travel product, this is definitely worth a look, if you can afford it. The bassinet is super portable, and the beauty is in its simplicity: it’s safe, sleek, and minimalist. It’s easy to set up, low-profile, lightweight (13 pounds), and can transition into the Lotus Travel Crib, which is our top pick for a travel crib. Parents love it for its ease-of-use and versatility.
Option 2: A Play Yard
You might hear a play yard called a “care station” or in-room nursery station – or, as my mom called it, a play pen, HAH.
In my opinion, the play yard solution is seriously in the running as the overall best baby bassinet because you can use it for years to come, and it’s a must-have for travel. In fact, I don’t know a single parent that doesn’t own one.
By comparison, you will use a bassinet or cradle for 5-6 months (max), and then what? Store it away, sell it… use it as a planter?
In the economy category, our favorite option is: the Graco Pack ‘n Play:
Moving into the next price category, the 4moms Breeze play yard is a top pick, too:
$$ — Chicco Lullaby Playard ~ $219
Another favorite play yard of mine. It’s a durable, well-made (and well-liked) play yard that assembles quickly and easily. It comes with room for storage, a changer, and a bassinet… it does run a bit heavy (~31 pounds), so it might not be the best pick if portability is your top priority, but all of these have a certain “clunky” factor to them, to be honest.
$$$ — Bugaboo Stardust Playard ~ $339
Okay, friends, this newer release from Bugaboo is *so cool. In some ways it defies categorization — a play yard? a travel crib? a bedside bassinet? yes… — but wherever you put it, there’s a lot to love (save the high price tag). Slightly smaller than a traditional play yard (also lighter, clocking in at ~17 lbs.), the Stardust is SO EASY to set up. This sucker gives the 4moms a run for its money in terms of straight-up owning “the easy one-handed fold.” Unfolding is equally simple and quick (and unlike the Graco line, you can leave the mattress inside, it folds right up with the whole apparatus). If you are looking for something that works well as a bedside bassinet but can also wear a couple of other hats (again, travel crib, around-the-house lounger, etc.), and you can afford it, this is a great pick from a beloved company.
[More about travel-specific cribs.]
$$$$ — Nuna SENA Aire ~ $400
This is a super high quality play yard (for that price $$$ it better be, LOL) with a one-handed fold very reminiscent of the 4moms play yard (above). We love that the base (mattress?) has a pull-off cover that’s easily washable, and the siding comes off for machine washing too. Without the bassinet insert, this one weighs it at ~21 pounds, making it pretty favorable in comparison to other portable play yards. It’s pricey, but it’s very durable and well made — if you plan on using it for multiple children and/or you already know and love Nuna products, it’s worth a look. *Comes with a GOTS certified cotton sheet.
Option 3: A Sidecar Co-Sleeper
There are two main brands in the U.S. duking it out for first place in the “best baby bassinet, co-sleeper edition”: Arm’s Reach and HALO. Both offer great products with some differences in performance. In truth, you can’t go wrong with either one. If you’re planning to room-share and want your baby right at your bedside, check these out:
Please note — re: the HALO^^: A number of readers and reviewers have expressed safety concerns about the new version of the HALO, for being slightly tilted when it’s swiveled all the way out. It took a long time, but we were finally able to connect up with HALO to see what’s going on with the new design. Here’s what the company said:
“The Bassinest is different from all other traditional, stationary bassinets on the market. Because it swivels 360 degrees and rotates, there is sometimes a slight tilt. Some people interpret this tilt as problematic, but it is well within the standards of accepted angles for these types pf products. In addition, the front sidewall that lowers is slightly shorter than the back sidewall, which can create the perception of additional tilt.”
If you like the concept of the HALO Bassinest but want something with more than zero portability, families are really liking the Chicco Close to You SE Bedside Bassinet. The Chicco Bedside Bassinet has many of the same/similar features as the HALO (drop down and mesh siding, bedside proximity), but it’s on wheels, so you can roll it around the house (note that you can set the wheels in lock mode). Some truly love this feature, while others find it less useful given the large base footprint — in the first case, you need a lot of open space to be able to move it, and secondly, it can seriously injure your toes if you’re not careful. At ~$249, it’s not super economical, but especially given the easy height adjustability it’s a great pick for tall parents, C-section mothers, or folks with a higher bed.
$$$ — Babybay Bedside Sleeper ~ $245
Looking to stretch your dollars beyond the first 6 months? Made in Germany, the Babybay Bedside Sleeper is a sidecar sleeper that later converts into a crib as you transition your baby out of your room. (You do need to purchase a separate conversion kit for this, though.) Made of 100% Beechwood, these bedside sleepers are sustainable and naturally antibacterial. (Although it isn’t formally approved in the U.S. for this, in Europe the Babybay bedside sleeper has been tested with up to 300 pounds weight… as an adult bench. Wow. Needless to say, even though technically it’s only sanctioned for up to 6 months here, many parents abroad use it for their child’s full first year. You probably could too, just saying.)
Option 4: Bed-Sharing
If you’re sleeping with baby in your bed, as many people do, we used to include some products designed to “shield” babies from adult pillows, duvets, and bulky bedding items that are known risk factors for SIDS. These products have always been super controversial, even polarizing, but increasingly they simply aren’t/won’t be available any longer.
As of spring 2022, “flat infant sleepers” will no longer be available for purchase, as they will not meet the new CPSC standards for the bassinet category. There’s a lot to this story, but for now we’ll just say that for years we’ve lacked comprehensive data on these kinds of products (as the AAP specifies in its safe sleep guidelines: “There is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the use of devices promoted to make bed-sharing ‘safe.’ There is no evidence that these devices reduce the risk of SIDS or suffocation or are safe. Some products designed for in-bed use (in-bed sleepers) are currently under study but results are not yet available.”)
Given that this category is falling by the wayside, we’re no longer including any bed-sharing accessories here… If you want more information on safe bed-sharing, you might be interested in reading James McKenna’s suggestions, and you should absolutely talk to your pediatrician.
Option 5: A Bassinet
Last but not least, you can buy a regular, single-trick bassinet. Some of these last for less than 6 months, then you’d transition your baby into a crib (in his own room) or a regular Pack ‘n Play with taller walls if he’s going to stay in your room.
(Some parents are also opting to use mini-cribs in this same way, which is a nice option with a little more longevity than a traditional newborn bassinet…)
$$$ — Fisher Price Soothing Motions Bassinet ~ $188
This new-ish bedside bassinet by Fisher Price has become a quick hit. It’s simple, cheap, looks halfway decent, and has some fun bells and whistles (a nightlight, a music player, ceiling star lights, a mobile, etc.).
The downsides: the big complaint is that it’s very difficult to find sheets for this (though many find these ones work alright); another common complaint is that baby can wake him/herself by her own movements (which jostle them awake). FYI, it runs on C batteries (three of them), so stock up. (Some parents complain that the features turn off automatically after 30 minutes… others love this because it prevents them tearing through batteries.)
In a slightly higher price category, we also recommend the more reliable Arm’s Reach Concepts Mini Ezee 2-in-1 ($230).
Newton Baby, maker of the beloved Wovenaire mattress, recently released its first bassinet/sleeper (~$299) and it’s been getting rave reviews so far. It has a drop-down side for bedside sleeping, mesh siding all around for breathability, and comes with the fully washable Wovenaire bassinet mattress. It also has a handy little carry case for travel use.
$$$ — Baby Bjorn Cradle ~ $349
Another solid option. It has mesh sides and is really well-built (for being just 13 pounds, it’s surprisingly solid). The Bjorn Cradle is simple, stylish, and safe; parents really love it. It also sways a little (manually), and you can run the mattress through the washing machine.
Newer On the Scene: Smart Cribs
After Harvey Karp’s SNOO came out several years back (see below), every manufacturer started scrambling to devise its own version of a smart crib — even the economy brands like Graco and Fisher Price now offer watered-down versions of a smart crib. The basic premise behind these bassinets is that they help babies fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer by automatically responding with various soothing features (vibrating, white noise, swaying, etc.) when babies cry. (And if they don’t successfully soothe baby and lull her back to sleep, it’s feeding time…)
Depending on your perspective, smart cribs may present as the next best thing, weird robot nannies, or frankly concerning. We say: to each his own. For every family that sees smart cribs as “the problem with technology/parenting these days,” there’s another that *swears by their smart crib. We’re keeping tabs on the newer-to-market offerings, but for now we think the two best options are the MamaRoo and, yes, the SNOO:
4moms MamaRoo Bassinet ~ $375
The 4moms bassinet has gotten a ton of hype since it came out in 2020, and thus far parents are loving it. From the control app on your smart phone (or the touch screen control panel on the bassinet itself), you can choose between five different soothing motions (each one has five speeds) and four white noise options (adjustable volume). It basically “works” roughly the same as the 4moms infant seat, except it lies flat, so it’s safe for sleeping.
A couple of other notes — one big difference between the 4moms smart bassinet and the SNOO is that the SNOO is cry activated, while the mamaRoo relies on you, the parent, to control it. Also, FYI: the 4moms bassinet features automatically power off after 4 hours (or you can set a turn-off timer for a shorter duration if you prefer), and, you obviously need to be able to plug this in! *Comes with a water-resistant mattress and one machine-washable sheet.
And now, on to (low-technology) cribs…