All about bassinets

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Modern reproduction of a medieval cot and rattle, c. 1465

Movable, but not portable, home bassinet

Rooming-in bassinet

A bassinet, bassinette, or cradle is a bed specifically for babies from birth to about four months.


In a hospital environment, a special form of sealed bassinet is used in a neonatal intensive care unit.

On many domestic and nearly all long-distance flights, most airlines provide a bassinet (which is attached to a bulkhead) to adults travelling with an infant, i.e., a child under the age of two. The use of the bassinet is restricted by the infant's size and weight.

Research has shown that the mattress influences SIDS outcomes; a firm mattress lowers SIDS risk.

Some bassinets are designed to rock or swing freely, with many carers finding their child calmed by this action. The process of lulling the child to sleep may be accompanied by prerecorded or live performance of lullabies.


Although there are many variations, they fall generally into two categories:

  • light and portable types sometimes called Moses baskets
  • sturdier but less portable cradles

In both cases, they are generally designed to allow the resting baby to be carried from place to place. Within the home, they are often raised on a stand or other surface to reduce back strain when bending over to tend the baby. Wheeled frames to convert a bassinet into a pram or baby carriage are common.


At three or four months of age babies are able to roll over by themselves; this means they could tip the bassinet over, so for safety they must use an infant bed or toddler bed instead.

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