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Co Sleepers vs Bassinets

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD
What’s the best sleeping option for your baby?

Is it time to get a sleeper for your newborn? Are you trying to decide which sleeper style is best?

You’re not alone! One of the many decisions new parents must face is choosing what to lay their newborn down in for the night.

There are many questions and factors surrounding this choice, and with so many differing opinions, it can be hard to decide without some insight.

What will help your baby get the best sleep? Which sleeper is safest? With a little more information and some consideration, you can decide what’s best for you and your little one.

Deciding Factors For Your Sleeper

Every parent faces sleeping dilemmas. It’s one of the toughest challenges of raising a newborn baby. We’ve been there ourselves — after your little one is born, nighttime is temporarily turned upside down.

With middle-of-the-night feedings and cranky babies, it’s easy for your former resting time to become exhausting. One way to cut back on the stress of this time is choosing sleeping arrangements that suit you and your baby best.

There are a few key points to keep in mind in order to determine what will suit your needs.

  • Price: Not every family can afford multiple sleepers, so if you’re on a limited budget, look for long-lasting options that last past the first year. A mobile sleeper option may also be a great option, so you can easily move the baby around the house with you.
  • Space: If you’re limited on space, such as living in a small apartment, a smaller sleeper with storage or included features to improve function may be best for your family.
  • Feeding method: While it’s true both bottle-fed and breastfed babies should share a room with mom, proximity to the bed may not be as essential for bottle-fed babies.
  • The extras: Some sleepers, may come with soothing lights, sounds, and vibrations.

We’re going look specifically at co-sleepers and bassinets. These are the leading models for infant sleeper options — each one is different and proposes unique benefits for families.

Take Note

We do not recommend Rock n’ Plays as they do not conform to the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission for a safe sleep surface for newborns. To quote, “A safe sleep surface has the infant sleeping on a flat firm surface. The surface should maintain its shape when the infant is placed on the surface and does not conform to the infant’s head. Any surface that does not stay flat with the infant on it, increases the risk of the baby re-breathing exhaled air or suffocating” (1).

Room Sharing For Baby’s Safety

Room sharing can be a major key to bedtime safety, especially for babies under the age of 1. Sleeping with your baby nearby drastically decreases their chances of suffering from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome — also known as SIDS.

However, many parents are concerned about potential downsides, like getting less quality sleep and having a harder time establishing healthy bedtimes (2).

Every family is different, but the benefits of sharing your room with your baby for at least the first six months of their life outweigh the potential complications. Choosing the best sleeper for your family can help make the experience a far more enjoyable one.

The Dangers Of Bed-Sharing

Some advocate co-sleeping as a fantastic choice for hands-on parents who are following the Attachment Parenting method.

However, while your child should stay in your room for the first year of their life, they must have their own secure sleeping space.

Without using a special sleeper designed for protecting your child in a co-sleeping situation, you significantly increase the risk of SIDS.

If you bring your infant into bed with you, you’re creating risks.

Some of the dangers of bed-sharing are (3):

  • Suffocation: Anytime your baby is around sleeping accessories like pillows, blankets, toys, or even other people, the risk of suffocation increases.
  • Being crushed: Exhaustion can put any parent into a deep sleep, and there is a possibility you may roll onto your baby.
  • Falling: Even babies who can’t roll on their own are at risk for falling to the floor when bed-sharing. You may accidentally nudge them. A bed is also a soft surface, which may cause them to off the edge with the help of gravity.
  • Sleeping trouble: Both you and your baby will suffer from less satisfying sleep if you bed-share. It also doesn’t help to establish healthy sleeping habits and makes it harder for you to stay asleep and get the rest you both need.

With the many dangers of bed-sharing, a sleeper is a great way to get the benefits of having baby close by without many of the risks.

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The Pros And Cons Of Co-Sleepers

A co-sleeper is an extension for your bed that allows you to bed-share with your baby, in a safer, controlled way.

This is a great sleeper option for attachment parenting methods and may help you foster a closer bond with your baby. It’s especially wonderful for breastfeeding moms, who won’t have to travel far for feedings in the middle of the night.

There are two main types of co-sleepers. The first can be placed in your bed directly on your mattress. The more popular type is a bassinet-style you set directly beside your bed with a lower rail on the mattress-facing side for easy access.

There are a few key pros to using co-sleepers:

  • Convenience: By eliminating the need to leave bed to comfort or feed your baby, your life is made easier. Breastfeeding moms may get the most out of these models.
  • Closeness: Co-sleepers encourage bonding and togetherness with your baby because they keep mom and baby in such close proximity.
  • Functionality: Unlike bassinets, many that co-sleepers sit at the side of the bed have height adjustments. You can also find some with storage in the lower section.

Co-sleepers also have their set of cons:

  • Limited time use: Co-sleepers are a good option until your baby begins to move with some independence — around the age of 1. After that, it’s time to switch them to a crib.
  • Not space-efficient: Most beds aren’t big enough to accommodate an in-bed sleeper and two adults. Bedside co-sleepers can also be pretty big, and won’t let you get out of bed without moving to the end.
  • Unhealthy sleep habits: Decreased sleep quality and having a harder time teaching baby self-soothing techniques are common problems parents have when using a co-sleeper.
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The Pros and Cons Of Bassinets

Bassinets are great for the multitasking moms — especially ones with limited space and a tight budget.

A bassinet is much smaller as a sleeping space, which babies prefer in the first four months of their life. There are many different models and tons of brands, but the ones that can go easily next to your bed are best.

Bassinets provide their own unique pros:

  • Portability: It’s much easier to transport a bassinet from room to room in your house, keeping baby nearby. Bassinets also are also great options for traveling.
  • Petite size: Newborn babies tend to like cozy space of a bassinet. Additionally, using one saves you plenty of room — they’re a lot less intrusive than having a whole crib near your bedside!
  • More hours of sleep: Bassinets make reaching your baby easy without causing some of the problems a co-sleeper would.

Bassinets also come with their own unique list of drawbacks and cons:

  • Limited use: Babies outgrow bassinets pretty quickly — once your baby can sit up, it’s time to upgrade. They’re a great short-term investment, but may be unnecessary if you already have a crib.
  • Takes up space: Bassinets can be a bit of an eyesore in the bedroom. Even though they are smaller, they’re still going to change up the floor plan.
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Headshot of Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD

Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett is a veteran board-certified pediatrician with three decades of experience, including 19 years of direct patient clinical care. She currently serves as a medical consultant, where she works with multiple projects and clients in the area of pediatrics, with an emphasis on children and adolescents with special needs.