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Co Sleepers vs. Bassinets: Which Is Best for Baby?

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.

We’ve used a variety of baby beds with our little ones and have polled the momiverse to find out which style of sleeper they like the most. We’ll compare the best features of co-sleepers vs. bassinets vs. Rock’ n Play sleepers to help you decide which sleeper is safest and best for your baby.

Key Takeaways

  • Co-sleepers offer convenience and closeness, but can lead to unhealthy sleep habits and limited use as baby grows.
  • Bassinets are portable and space-saving, but also have limited use as baby outgrows them quickly.
  • Room sharing for at least the first six months can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Bed-sharing without a proper co-sleeper can increase the risk of suffocation, falling, and sleeping trouble for both parent and baby.

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 — many times! 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 to choose the best sleeping arrangements to suit you and your baby.

There are a few key points to consider when determining 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.
  • Space: If you live in a small apartment, you may appreciate a smaller sleeper with storage or additional features that improve function. A mobile sleeper option may also be a great option, so you can easily move the baby around the house with you.
  • 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 come with soothing lights, sounds, and vibrations.

We’re going to 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

Fisher-Price Rock n’ Plays are not safe to be used as a bed for babies as they do not conform to the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and many infant deaths have been associated with them. 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 Your 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 far more enjoyable.

The Dangers of Bed-Sharing

Some advocate co-sleeping as a fantastic choice for hands-on parents 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 to protect 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.

These are some of the dangers of bed-sharing (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 of falling to the floor when bed-sharing. You may accidentally nudge them. A bed is also a soft surface, which may cause them to fall off the edge with the help of gravity.
  • Sleeping trouble: You and your baby will suffer from less satisfying sleep if you bed-share. It also doesn’t help 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 co-sleeper is a great way to get the benefits of having your 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, as it means they 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 sleeper 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 co-sleepers that 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 some 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. 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 more challenging 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 multitasking moms — especially those who have 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 your baby nearby. Bassinets are also great options for traveling.
  • Petite size: Newborn babies tend to like the cozy space of a bassinet. Additionally, using one saves you plenty of room. They’re 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 a few drawbacks:

  • 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 they’re not totally necessary 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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Are Co-Sleepers Safe for Newborns?

Co-sleepers are specifically designed bedside sleepers, so they’re considered safe for newborns when used correctly. They allow parents to be close to their babies for nighttime feedings and comfort without the risks associated with bed-sharing.

How Long Can Babies Sleep In a Co-Sleeper?

Babies can sleep in co-sleepers until they begin to roll over or push up on their hands, typically around 3-6 months.

Is a Rocking Bassinet Worth It?

Rocking bassinets can be valuable for some families as the gentle motion can soothe fussy babies and help them drift back to sleep. But always make sure it meets safety standards and that babies are always supervised when in motion.

When Should You Not Use a Bassinet?

Once a baby can roll, sit up, or push up on their hands, it’s time to transition out of a bassinet to ensure safety. Also, always consider the weight limits set by the manufacturer.

Is a Co-Sleeper the Same As a Bassinet?

While both provide a sleep space for infants, a co-sleeper attaches or sits adjacent to an adult bed, promoting closeness and easier night feedings. A bassinet can be stand-alone and might not always be right next to the adult bed.

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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 licensed 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.