Many new parents are faced with a cot vs bassinet dilemma—which one is right for your baby?
The truth is that each comes with unique advantages and disadvantages so you need to carefully weigh them out before reaching a decision.
Here is some information that could help you make the right choice.
Cot vs Bassinet: Should My Newborn Sleep in a Bassinet or a Cot?
Cots and bassinets are beds designed for newborns and small babies. The main difference between the two is that cots are appropriate for children up to four years old, while a bassinet may be used from birth until around six months of age or when the child begins rolling or sitting.
What is a bassinet?
A bassinet is a tiny wooden, fabric or metal bed, intended for babies weighing less than 8 kg. It is very similar to a co-sleeper, cradle or Moses basket and is typically used as a baby’s first bed. Since they have a lower weight limit and are smaller in size, bassinets are not suitable for bubs older than 6 months.
It is also important to note there are no Australian safety standards for bassinets as there are for cots. This does not necessarily imply that bassinets aren’t safe, it rather means that parents must know what to look for in a bassinet to ensure that it is secure enough for their little one.
Do you need a bassinet?
While cots are a must for babies older than 6 months, bassinets are optional pieces of furniture. But that doesn’t mean they don’t come with benefits.
Here is a closer look at why getting a bassinet might be a good idea.
Bassinets are quite small and compact (about 70 x 40 cm) so they can easily fit in most bedrooms. Cots are considerably larger, with the average cot size measuring 130 cm in diameter and 69 cm in height.
Thanks to their size, bassinets are becoming a popular choice, especially among new parents who live in small studio apartments or are low on space in the bedroom
Bassinets can serve multiple purposes—you can lay the baby in the bassinet during middle-of-the-night feedings or while changing. Cots, which tend to have high bars on all four sides, are not as practical.
What’s more, bassinets are not as deep as cots making it easier to pick up or put your baby down. Some come with a dropdown side giving you even easier access to your baby.
Keep in mind that you will take your child in and out of bed several times during the day and night, especially in the first few months, so functionality is an important consideration. Having easy access to the little one is even more important for mothers who have had a cesarean or are experiencing pain after giving birth.
Most bassinets are portable as well. These baby beds usually feature wheels or castors so they can be moved effortlessly from room to room, keeping your baby at arm’s reach wherever you are in the house. There are some cot models that are also fitted with wheels but since they are bigger and heavier than bassinets, cots are harder to move around the house.
Bassinets are much cheaper, with high-quality products moving between $189 and $299. Cots, however, are known to go up to $1,500 and more. Although you will have to get a cot eventually, a bassinet can be a great option for parents who are facing short-term budget constraints.
What are the benefits of using a cot for your baby?
A baby cot is a piece of baby furniture that resembles a small bed but is usually surrounded by high bars as a safety precaution. Cots are available in a wide range of designs and materials, and some of the best baby cots in Australia even come with wheels and smart features.
As mentioned above, these Infant beds are generally considered safer to buy since all cots must meet Australian safety standards (AS/NZS 2172) to be sold on the market. Plus they are bigger so there is more space for your baby to move around without obstructions.
Cots also provide more value—these baby beds can be used for longer and are made from more durable materials than bassinets. They grow with your baby, too, and can even convert into toddler beds so you can use them until your child is three or four years old.
Bassinets may cost less but babies outgrow them fast since they come with age and weight limits. More importantly, you will have to buy a cot sooner or later so you could save some money by getting one from the start instead of a bassinet cot combo.
What Is the Difference Between a Cot and a Bassinet
To help you make a better decision, here is a brief recap of the main difference between cots and bassinets.
|Safety standards||Cots must meet security requirements||There is no safety standard for bassinets in Australia|
|Age limit||Cots can be used for 4 years (depending on the child’s weight & height)||Bassinets can be used for around 6 months (depending on how active the baby is)|
|Size||The average cot size is 130x69cm||The typical bassinet size is 70x40cm|
|Portability||There are travel cots and portable cots with wheels but they tend to be heavy and chunky||The smaller size and fitted castors make bassinets easier to move|
|Durability||Cots are more durable||Bassinets have a shorter lifespan|
|Price||More expensive than a bassinet but more cost-effective in the long run||Lower initial investment|
What age will the baby go from bassinet to cot?
In general, once your baby is 6 months old, it is time to move them to a safe cot.
But since every baby is different when it comes to hitting developmental milestones, you might be required to make the transition sooner.
Here are some signs that your little ones are ready to move to a cot.
- They are sitting up by themselves
- They are pulling themselves up to the edge of the bed
- They are heavier than the weight limit set by the manufacturer
- They are taller than 70 cm (i.e. the average length of a bassinet)
It is important to remember that even if your baby can still fit in the bassinet, you should not let them sleep in one when they start rolling or sitting up, which is around four months for most bubs (although as mentioned above every child is different). Bassinets are not as sturdy or roomy as cots and are no longer safe for babies old enough to roll over or sit up by themselves.
What to Look for When Buying a Bassinet?
Since there are no Australian safety standards for bassinets, when shopping for this type of bed you can either check if the product meets recognised international standards, such as the European Standard EN 1130-1 & EN 1130-2 or the American Standard ASTM F2 194 -16, or follow Red Nose Australia’s recommendations.
Here is what the country’s leading authority on safe sleep lists as crucial criteria for bassinets.
- A bassinet should have a sturdy bottom to stop it from tipping over;
- The surface should not incline more than 10 degrees—there might be some reports that inclined support can help with colic or reflux symptoms when in fact, it puts the babies in a ‘chin to chest’ position that can cause asphyxiation;
- The sides of the bed need to be 300 mm or higher than the top of the mattress. Otherwise, your baby might fall out the bassinet;
- The mattress should not be thicker than 75 mm and it should fit the bassinet—some products come with a mattress, while others might require that you buy a custom-made sleeping surface. Either way, make sure that the mattress is firm and is the right thickness and size;
- The bassinet needs to be breathable (airy material or mesh sides) to prevent suffocation and overheating;
- There should be no decorative trims or ribbons or thick padding on the sides as this increases the risk of suffocation;
- The bed should be made of a wooden or metal frame. Avoid bassinets made out of cardboard as these can get easily damaged in the humid Australian weather.
Other safety sleep tips for babies
Whether you go for a bassinet or cot you should always ensure that your baby is sleeping in a safe environment. Here are some helpful tips:
Always choose a firm mattress for your baby
Firm mattresses for cots and bassinets are not only said to reduce the risk of accidents, but also prevent bubs from sinking into their bedding. Make sure that the mattress you purchase complies with the Australian Standard for Mattresses AS/NZS 8811-1:2013 and is not made of foam that can be toxic for your baby.
No decorations or cot accessories
The bassinet or cot should be free of toys, pillows, clothes, bumpers and blankets. Your baby can suffocate on any of these so keep them away from their bed.
Choose the right bedding
Look for soft and durable sheets made of a light and breathable material, such as cotton covers, bamboo sheets or linen. The sheets must also be the right size—too big and they might bunch up at night and increase the risk of asphyxiation.
Don’t overheat the room
The ideal temperature for sleeping babies is 18 degrees, but anywhere between 16 and 20 is suitable.
Share a room with your baby
Keep the cot or bassinet in your room for at least until the baby is one. Red Nose strongly recommends that parents sleep in the same room as a baby for the first year of their lives.
Put the baby in the right position
Put infants to sleep on their back, making sure that nothing can accidentally cover the face or head.
Bassinet vs Cot: The Final Verdict
Cots and bassinets are suitable baby beds for newborns, but there are several key differences between the two. Bassinets are smaller, portable and lightweight, but can only be used for a few months of your baby’s life. Plus, there is no requirement for bassinets to meet Australian safety standards, which means parents will need to put in extra effort to find a safe and quality product.
Cots, on the other hand, are big and heavy, but they are sturdier, more spacious and more durable—all of which makes them safer and more cost-effective than bassinets.
In the end, the choice is yours—whether you opt for a cot from the get-go or try a bassinet cot combo, make sure your baby’s bed is safe, sturdy and free of obstructions.
1. When to move a baby from a bassinet to a cot in Australia?
A baby should be moved to a safe cot once they reach 6 months of age. However, if you notice that your little one has outgrown the bassinet (in length or weight) or is starting to pull himself up to the edge of the bed, make the transition sooner.
2. Do bassinets meet Australian standards?
No, there are no safety standards for bassinets in Australia, although you can check if the bed complies with internationally recognised standards.
3. Can a newborn sleep in a cot straight away?
Yes, cots are perfectly safe for newborns, so you can put your baby to sleep in a cot as soon as you come home from the hospital. And since most cots convert into toddler beds you can use them well until your child is three or four years old.
4. Is a bassinet the same as a cot?
No, although they are both suitable for newborns, there are some key distinctions between the two and understanding the cot vs bassinet difference will help you make a better and safer choice for your bundle of joy. Bassinets are designed to be used as a baby’s first bed. Cots, however, can be used until the child is four years old. More importantly, each baby cot sold in Australia must adhere to certain safety standards, so you’re certain that the bed you are buying is safe for your baby.