Do You Really Need a Bassinet? [+ Alternatives]

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Do you really need a bassinet?

Bassinets are such a right-of-passage item for bringing home your baby from the hospital that you may assume that they are a must. But do you really need a bassinet?

Nope! You do not need a bassinet for your newborn.

Bassinets provide a smaller safe sleep space for new babies but they are quickly outgrown. Babies usually transition out of a bassinet before they hit 6-months old.

Instead of a bassinet, babies can sleep in a traditional crib, Pack ‘N Plays or playard from birth. Pack ‘N Plays and playards even have bassinet features that elevate the mattress making them perfect for those newborn days.

We skipped a bassinet with both our babies (and skipped a standard crib too — that’s right, you don’t have to get a crib!). Bassinets are an added expense, especially given its short lifespan. Our small living space also did not allow for another piece of baby gear.

Instead our babies sleep in a Pack ‘N Play travel crib with the bassinet feature. The playard offers all the same features that parents love in a bassinet — smaller size, easier to move, elevated mattress — with the bonus of being usable into toddlerhood and travel-ready (plus it’s affordable!).

So if you’d like to save some money on baby gear, read on and let me convince you that a bassinet is an optional purchase.

And don’t forget to check out my post about whether you really need a crib or not.

What is a Bassinet?

A bassinet is a smaller sleep space designed for newborns. People use bassinets because they more easily fit in parents’ rooms for room sharing (as recommended by the AAP for at least the first 6-months of life). Bassinets are also more portable so they are easier to move around the house.

Most babies outgrow their bassinet before they are 6-months old. Once your baby is pushing up and rolling, or approaching the weight limit for your bassinet, it’s time to make the switch to another sleep space.

Do you need a Bassinet?

As long as you have a certified safe sleep space for your baby, you do not need a bassinet. Here are pros and cons of a bassinet:

Pros of Bassinet

Cons of Bassinets

  • Short use lifespan
  • Extra cost (+ additional purchases like bassinet sheets)
  • More baby gear in your house

Related Post: Do You Need a Changing Table?

Overall, you do not need a bassinet. Depending on your situation, you may decide that the convenience of a bassinet is worth the cost.

If I were buying a bassinet, I would look for the most portable option that is also easy to store and machine-washable, like the Fisher Price Soothing Bassinet or the Regalo Folding Bassinet.

Bassinet Alternatives

So if you don’t want a bassinet, what are some alternatives?

  • Traditional Crib
  • Playard or Travel Crib

In my opinion, a playard or travel crib like a Pack ‘N Play is the best bassinet alternative because it’s:

  • Elevated-bassinet features for easy baby-access.
  • Long-lasting and usable into toddlerhood.
  • Money saving (since you’ll likely need a travel crib anyway).
  • Portable & light
  • Easy storage
  • Sleep safe

If you are planning to have multiple babies, a playard is great because they easily store between babies. This also makes it easy to hang on to if you expect to host friends with babies in the future.

Best Affordable Bassinet Alternative: Pack-N-Play with Bassinet

This is the standard pack ‘n play with the bassinet feature to elevate the mattress (this feature is definitely worth the extra cost). We have used and abused this exact pack-n-play with two babies. Graco’s model is more basic than brands like BabyBjorn Travel Crib or Guava Lotus Travel Crib.

The only issue we’ve had with ours is that our mattress started bunching up on the side. Graco customer service was awesome and immediately sent us a free replacement, even though we owned it for more than a year.

Skip the ‘care station’ deluxe versions with added features like a changing station. The extras likely aren’t worth the cost; and, depending on the model you’ll be regularly taking off the accessories before putting your baby to sleep on the full mattress.

It is worth it to buy a few extra mini-crib sheet to protect the mattress, especially for the newborn days. Our babies were pukers so we had to wash sheets frequently.

Upgrade Pick Crib Alternative: Guava Lotus

We have loved our Pack ‘N Play but in hindsight, I would have upgraded to the Guava Lotus Travel Crib. While it is more of an investment, it has smart features that would add a lot of convenience and would have been worthwhile given how much we use our playard.

The features that you won’t find on Graco’s Pack ‘N Play include:

  • Side zipper door to more comfortably access the baby.
  • Lighter-weight (almost by half!).
  • No maximum weight limit because the mattress is on the ground.

The side zipper door is the huge selling point for the Lotus Travel Crib. It is a feature I definitely wished our Pack ‘N Play had and it would add a lot of value once babies are able to crawl in independently.

Related Post: 6 Safer DockATot Alternatives

The Lotus does have extra costs if you want to add on a bassinet attachment for the littlest babies. You’ll also need two sets of Lotus-specific sheets – sheets for the bassinet mattress and sheets for the regular mattress (though you can find 2-packs of sheets for added value).

Option for Small Spaces: Mini Graco Pack-n-Play

This mini pack ‘n play has a smaller footprint than Graco’s regular Pack ‘N Play with the same great features. It is also lighter for portability.

Bassinet or Pack ‘N Play?

In summary, here is a comparison of bassinets vs. travel cribs

Sleep SafeSleep Safe
Short use timeUseful into toddlerhood
Added expense & more gearLikely going to need anyway
Great for small spacesGood for small spaces
Does not work for travelTravel-ready

Overall, you don’t need a bassinet. Babies already require so much gear, it is nice to cross bassinets off the shopping list. Since you likely already need a travel crib let it serve double duty as your bassinet to save both money and space.

Looking for more ways to save space with your baby gear? Check out these baby items great for small spaces.

And if you’re wondering what other baby gear you can skip, check out my “do you really need a…” series:

About the Author

Elizabeth Jon is a Ph.D. researcher whose work focuses on pregnancy and education. At Shoestring Baby, she uses her skills to research baby name trends, in-depth baby gear reviews & money savings ideas for parents.

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