Bassinet vs Crib vs Cradle

child peeking over the side of a crib

Babies spend a lot of time sleeping, so it’s important to choose the right environment for them so they feel comfortable. There are a number of different options available to you including bassinets, Moses baskets, cribs and cradles. Bassinets and Moses baskets are great options for newborns, but a crib is better for older babies.

In this article let’s look at the pros and cons of buying a bassinet, crib or a cradle as well as how they compare with each other.

What is the difference between a bassinet, crib and a cradle?

Bassinets, cradles and cribs are all safe places for a sleeping baby. There are advantages and disadvantages to each one, so when deciding which one to purchase, personal preference is the most important factor. What’s more, every baby is different, so certain babies may dislike certain sleeping devices despite your efforts to make them comfortable and safe.

Generally, it’s important to remember that cribs are the most robust of the three, with cradles being slightly less sturdy, and bassinets less still. However, this doesn’t mean you should rule out bassinets as they have unique qualities that neither cribs nor cradles possess, such as being affordable and easily transportable. Also, your baby can only use a bassinet and or cradle when they are very small. Cribs are the best long term option.

Which is safer?

The safety of bassinets, cradles and cribs is something that can be debated depending on what you view as safe. However, generally, most people would agree that cribs are the safest option as they are the largest and strongest. Their large size, along with their high sides and slats to aid ventilation, ensure that babies stay in a safe sleeping position and don’t fall out of the crib.

Another reason that cribs are safe is that it protects babies from pets who may try to climb into a less sturdy object, like a bassinet. Having said that, the safety of a crib depends on how it’s set up. For example, some parents choose to fit crib bumpers, which have been associated with SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Another important thing to mention is that cribs with wheels can pose a problem if a safety lock is not present.

What is a bassinet?

Bassinets are small, lightweight sleeping devices that are akin to Moses baskets. They are much lower to the ground than cradles and cribs, and they are also less sturdy. Some parents purchase bassinets as the main sleeping device for their babies. However, others buy them for particular reasons, such as travelling with their baby or daytime naps, and they use a crib for bedtime.

Papablic 2-in-1 Bonni Baby Bassinet

Pros and cons of bassinets

Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of bassinets.


  • Bassinets are a common choice for parents as they are easily portable thanks to their small size and lightweight material. This is great for parents who want to take their baby on their travels, or parents who don’t have room for a crib or cradle in their house.
  • Another advantage of bassinets is that they tend to be more affordable than other options.
  • Finally, you can store items in your bassinet, from baby wipes to cuddly toys, which comes in handy in the stressful early weeks and months.


  • Although bassinets are lightweight and practical, this comes with certain drawbacks; they are less durable than cribs and cradles. It is likely that your bassinet will become damaged faster than the other alternatives, which can mean spending more money in the long run. It also means they may be a more risky option for babies if you don’t keep them in good condition.

What should you consider when buying a bassinet?

When buying a bassinet, you should consider whether you are happy for your baby to sleep lower to the ground in a less durable environment. However, you should also consider whether you are willing to spend money on a crib or cradle that will take up more space.

How long can you use a bassinet?

You can use a bassinet for the first few months of your baby’s life, as after this time period, your baby will need to sleep in a larger space. The maximum length you should use a bassinet is six months.

Is it safe for a newborn?

A bassinet is certainly a safe place for a newborn to sleep. The only time that a bassinet would pose a safety risk is if it had deteriorated, or if an older baby was sleeping in it despite having outgrown it.

When should you move your baby out of bassinet?

You should get ready to move your baby out of a bassinet before they turn six months old. At this age, they will most likely be too big and too mobile to comfortably sleep in a bassinet.

What is a cradle?

A cradle is similar to a crib, but it is often smaller, more portable, and it can come with swinging technology.


Pros and cons of cradles

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of cradles


  • One advantage of a cradle is that it is more robust than a bassinet, which means it generally lasts longer.
  • It is also more portable than a crib, so it wins points for practicality.
  • What’s more, the rocking mechanism often present in cradles can boost your baby’s sleep quality.


  • When searching for cradles, you may find that some are just as expensive as cribs but without the added durability, which means they are not always cost-effective.
  • Sometimes, cradles can also pose certain risks as the hinges can injure babies. However, it is possible to find reputable brands that sell safe cradles.

Tips on buying a cradle

  • When purchasing a cradle, it is recommended that you carefully consider the prices to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
  • You should also avoid purchasing blankets for the cradle as this increases the risk of SIDS. (In fact you should hold off using blankets completely until your baby is at least 12 months old)
  • Finally, decide whether you believe the rocking mechanism will be worth it, as it comes with an added cost and it does not work wonders for every baby.

Do babies sleep better in a cradle?

Babies may sleep better in a cradle than other options as they are often rocked to sleep. However, every baby is different, so it is not guaranteed that your baby will enjoy sleeping in a cradle. There’s also the risk of your baby forming a sleep association with being rocked to sleep.

How long can a baby sleep in a cradle?

Generally, babies should transition out of a cradle when they are around six months old, possibly up to 8 months if they have deeper sides. Though they are larger than bassinets, cradles are still much smaller than cribs, so older babies should not be sleeping in them.

When should a baby sleep in a cradle?         

It is safe for babies to sleep in a cradle for nap times as well as bedtime. 

How do you rock a cradle?

Most cradles come with rocking mechanisms, so you don’t have to worry about rocking the cradle yourself as the process will be automatic.

Is a cradle safe for a newborn?

Yes, cradles are safe for newborns. In fact, they were designed with young babies in mind.

Can a baby sleep in a cradle all night?

Yes, a baby can sleep in a cradle all night as it is a perfectly safe environment. Just make sure blankets and stuffed animals are not placed in the cradle.

What is a crib?

A crib is a strong structure that is designed to keep babies safe while sleeping. Cribs come in different sizes, but most tend to take up a lot of space.

Pros and cons of cribs

Here is a quick overview of the advantages and disadvantages of cribs.


  • One advantage of cribs is that they will often last a long time, which is particularly beneficial for parents who are planning on having more children.
  • Cribs are also spacious, so some babies sleep better in them as they have more room to stretch.
  • Finally, cribs can be placed by the parent’s bed, meaning the baby can be tended to easily throughout the night.


  • Unfortunately, cribs tend to be the most expensive option for parents, so purchasing a crib is not an easy decision.
  • They are also fairly impractical as they take up plenty of space and they are not easily portable, so they may not be an option for parents who are always on the go.
  • Finally, if you are not planning on having any more children, a crib is an investment that may not be necessary due to the financial implications.

What is a mini crib?

A mini crib is a smaller version of a crib. It possesses some of the same advantages, such as being durable, but it is less high-maintenance than a standard crib. It goes without saying that babies outgrow mini cribs faster, which is something to keep in mind if you are deciding between the two.

Graco Stella 4 in 1 Convertible Mini Crib

What to consider when buying a crib

When buying a crib, you should be careful to select something that will fit in your room and possibly next to your bed. It’s also wise to reflect on the fact that cribs are not very portable, so decide whether you are happy for the crib to be a permanent fixture in your house for some time. Finally, consider whether you could reuse the crib for another child, or pass the crib on to a family member, as this may make the investment worth it.

How long can you use a crib?

Cribs can be used for a very long time compared to other options. Depending on the size of the crib, they can be suitable for children up to 3 years of age, though some should only be used up to around 18 months. 

Is a crib safe for a newborn?

Cribs are extremely safe for newborns as they offer them a comfortable amount of space away from pets and the high walls prevent babies from falling.

bassinet vs crib vs cradle

How do you choose between a crib, bassinet or a cradle?

Choosing between a crib, bassinet and cradle is a personal decision; there is no correct choice. You must consider how much space you have, what your budget is, and whether you will be travelling often before selecting the best product for you.

It’s also important to remember that there are other alternatives for your baby, such as pack ‘plays, floor beds, bedside cosleepers, and simply cosleeping with your baby. If you decide on one of these methods and then later change your mind, that’s perfectly acceptable. What’s important is that your baby sleeps safely and comfortably, and in a way that you are happy with as their parent.

Do you need a crib and a bassinet?

Although bassinets can come in handy as they are lightweight and portable, it is not necessary to purchase both a crib and a bassinet. This is because babies can sleep perfectly well in either a crib or a bassinet during the day and night. Some parents choose to buy both products as their baby can use a bassinet at first and then transition to a crib afterwards. However, do not feel as though this is a necessary route to take as it can be costly and impractical.