Introduction to Infant's Beds

There are a variety of pieces of furniture created for infants and children to sleep in, and others in which they are likely to fall asleep. Let’s begin this discussion of infant beds by distinguishing them. The most common items made specifically for children’s sleep needs are these five:

  • sleeping basket
  • cradle
  • bassinet
  • crib
  • portacrib

Infants may have a tendency to fall asleep in their child safety seats (also known as CSS or car seats) and in their playpen or play yard, if they have one. But the December 2006 issue of the British Medical Journal reports research that shows that infants should not be left to sleep in car seats due to the possibility that their heads may bend forward, resulting in potential difficulty in breathing. The study suggested that car seats be modified to make “head flexion” unlikely, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended (since 2002), that infants should be placed at a 45º angle in their car seats to prevent airway obstruction.

Sleeping Basket—Moses, the ancient Hebrew prophet, may have been the most popular baby in a basket, but even today, baby baskets are popular for use as infant beds because of their small size and portability and are sometimes referred to as Moses baskets. Generally equipped with handles, the baby sleeping basket also gives parents an easy way to provide a safe sleeping place for an infant on a visit away from home. When the infant outgrows the basket, it can be used to store toys or for other purposes.

Cradle—A cradle is a small, basket-shaped container on rockers or hung so that it can be swung to provide a soothing motion to help an infant calm down or fall asleep. Cradles should conform to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards, and should specify the maximum age and weight child that they can safely contain (3 months and 25 lbs. (11.33 kilograms), for example).

home institute 1 Bassinet—Generally like a sleeping basket on legs, bassinets often feature a canopy the protect the baby from sun/light. Bassinets are a popular first step in infant beds. They are constructed to be on approximately the same height as the parents’ bed, so that the bassinet can be placed beside the bed, and the baby easily reached for night feedings, for example. A newer innovation is the co-sleeper bassinet, which is not only designed to be right beside the parents’ bed, but has a dropped side so that parent and child can be in physical contact, while the child remains in a safe sleeping situation. Some bassinet manufacturers specify the safety of their product based on the infant’s physical ability (for example, one says “until child can pull up on knees”).

Crib—This is a bed for newborns as well as young children, with slatted sides between a headboard and footboard, and often with sides that slide up (for safety) and down (for access). A crib is usually meant to stay in one place, like other furniture. There are explicit and detailed safety standards for cribs and recommendations for how children should be put to sleep in cribs for safety.

Portable crib or portacrib—Usually smaller than a standard crib, a portacrib aims at combining the use of a crib and a playpen or play yard for situations in which one piece of furniture needs to move to different locations and/or serve double duty. In addition to the safety standards listed for cribs, there are these additional guidelines for safe use of a portable crib or any other type of infant beds:

  • the mesh weave should not be larger than ¼” (6.35 millimeters).
  • the mesh must not be torn or have loose threads.
  • in a mesh or fabric crib, the mattress pad must not exceed 1” (2.54 centimeters).
  • if the crib folds, the top rail latch must prevent the crib from closing unintentionally.
  • there must be no protruding points or knobs, inside or outside the portable crib.

Some companies offer bedding systems in which, for example, a bassinet converts to a crib, which later becomes a toddler’s bed, and finally, turns into chairs or a headboard for a full sized mattress. These multi-function sets allow one piece of furniture to serve a child for many years. These bedding systems are becoming popular alternatives to single-use infant beds.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

Related Home Institute Articles

  • Introduction to Baby Bottles
  • Disposable Diapers
  • Introduction to Mattresses
  • Portable Bed Rails