Is it a bassinet really necessary for a newborn?

We are expecting our first in a bit less than half a year. We have been asked if we want to use the family heirloom bassinet, and we really can't decide what to do, and lack of experience doesn't help. The problem is that my sister-in-law is expecting her second one only three months before us, and will use the bassinet for at least the first three months, depending on whether or not we want it too. It feels like snatching it from her, even though she kindly offered it to us.

We were originally thinking about going straight to a full-sized baby bed, partly because we don't have much space and we'd like to cut back on anything that isn't essential; however, my mother-in-law told me that a bassinet would be more suitable for a newborn as it fits snugly around the baby.

Is this true, does a newborn really sleep better in a bassinet?

The other thing we're wondering about is where the baby would sleep, and this might also influence the question if we need the bassinet, as our bedroom is so small that a baby bed won't fit, but a bassinet will. Our bedroom is one floor above the rest of the apartment incl. baby room, and the spiral stairs are pretty narrow. This makes me anxious about having to go downstairs 3x or more every night for feeding. If the baby room had been right next to ours, I would probably let the baby sleep in the baby room pretty quickly, but as it is with the stairs, I am strongly considering keeping it in our room for at least the first few months. On the other hand, I know that many baby sleep experts do not recommend this, and I'm really hoping we can get our baby to sleep well once it's a few months old.

What are your experiences, will keeping the baby in our bedroom for the first few months affect it's sleeping pattern beyond a few days/weeks? In a scenario as ours, will keeping the baby in our bedroom vs going downstairs be a big difference?

  • 1
    If you plan in nursing, I think it's much easier to have the baby right next to you. This way you can still be lying down while (s)he eats it'll be less tiring. From my experience, I had both girls (twins) sleeping in a a cosleeper next to the bed, and will just reach for one or the other throughout the night. After 2 months, they wouldn't both fit in so they went in the SAME crib for the next 3 months (but I was still sleeping in the same room as they did). Now they are 15 months old and are pretty good sleepers (8pm30 till 7am, and no crying to go down :)).
    – Fanny H.
    Sep 15, 2014 at 19:59
  • Note that (in the US, at least), while experts recommend that babies not sleep in parents bed (I personally disagree), they STRONGLY suggest that babies sleep in their own bed in the parents room (sorry no source right now). Something about hearing parents breathing is good for them.
    – Ida
    Sep 18, 2014 at 18:42

6 Answers 6


From your description of your living space, I would recommend keeping the baby in the bassinet in your room, at least for the first couple of months. Newborns, especially breast fed ones, wake every 2-3 hours to feed. Having the baby close is convenient (no stairs) and lets you respond before the real hungry-angry crying starts. It's much easier to feed a calm baby!

Once you notice that your baby is sleeping for longer stretches at night, you will be able to start the transition to sleeping in a different room if you want to. Keep in mind that there are many factors beyond the location of the crib or bassinet that effect infant sleep patterns: temperament, growth spurts, feeding, teething, the phase of the moon. Some babies/parents sleep well in close quarters; others need more space, and needs change over time. You will figure out what works best for your family at each stage.

  • Thank you for your answer, you addressed everything I needed to know! Sep 28, 2014 at 11:37

In the US, the American Academy of Pediatrics have a number of recommendations for reducing SIDS. For their site healtychildren.org, the page on newborn sleep and SIDS has number of recommendations, including:

Place your baby to sleep in the same room where you sleep but not the same bed. Keep the crib or bassinet within an arm’s reach of your bed. You can easily watch or breastfeed your baby by having your baby nearby. Babies who sleep in the same bed as their parents are at risk of SIDS, suffocation, or strangulation. Parents can roll onto babies during sleep or babies can get tangled in the sheets or blankets.

(Note that in other countries co-sleeping is practiced and not dis-recommended, as is the use of covers for your baby. In Denmark, where I lived before having a baby, it is common to sleep with the baby the first few months, and it is common to use baby comforters.)

From my personal experience, you do not want to be far away from your baby at night.

With my first baby, it was very hard for me to sleep, I had to listen to him breathing to feel calm.

Newborns usually eat every 3rd hour, so you don't want to run around the house that often, regardless of breast or bottle feeding. You need to get back to sleep easily.

We did not use a bassinet, but a baby hammock (there are several brands out there, if you choose to go that way be sure to find one suitable for sleep and not just naps), and we also had the changing table in our room the first few months.

However, I see no reason why you cannot have any type of suitable bed for a baby in your room. A bassinet, co-sleeper, hammock or crib all would work. The baby will look tiny in the crib at first, but I don't think there is anything wrong with using it, and I don't think a bassinet will be 'cozier' for the baby (the way a hammock is).


In my experience, newborns sleep best when firmly attached to a parent. :) The second-best is some sleeping place that is small enough that they feel limitations to all sides, especially around their heads. However, this could just as well be between their parents or in a bigger bed of their own that is downsized by a few cushions.

Another experience I have is that most newborns require regular attention during the nights. They might be hungry, need their diaper changed (after being fed, usually), or fell bad for no apparent reason. If you want your child to be as happy as possible, and still want to catch a few hours of sleep once in a while, then make it as easy as possible to get to the child when it wakes up, and to get the child to you. That is, you either want your child in your bed, or want the child's bed as close as possible to yours. (If the latter results in two of you not being able to sleep rather than one of you, consider taking shifts with one of you to sleep in the child's room.)

This is from another answer of mine:

One thing we have done was to build a small extension to our bed where a child can easily be put to sleep alone, but just as easy be picked up from when it cries. It was about an inch lower than our mattress, so that the children would not roll into our bed by themselves. (Some children "travel" a lot during sleep.) Putting it on my side of the bed somewhat lowered the lure of wanting to be fed in the middle of the night. I would lie on my back, the baby on my belly until the baby was quiet and comfortable. Then I'd slowly roll to the side and let the baby slip to its "balcony". If the baby starts to cry, I'd pick it up again. After a few nights this could become routine for the two of you and the child might be more relaxed about lying alone.

This was so practical a solution that in hindsight I feel bad about not having done this for the first children already.

However, every child is different from all the others, and so your child could be the opposite of what my experience is. You never know until you've tried.

  • 2
    While I generally agree with all of this, the only point I would make is that it's not recommended to downsize a bed with "a few cushions" - too much chance that a wriggly baby could end up with their head under the cushions and unable to escape. If you really want to make such a nest, it is best to put the cushions etc. UNDER a sheet that is tucked in all around.
    – Vicky
    Sep 15, 2014 at 10:10
  • @Vicky: This is a very good point! I didn't think of this because we had a very long version of this (they are helpful for breastfeeding "beginners") and that nicely wrapped around the top of a (German standard-sized) 40cm x 70cm baby bed, creating a narrow space for the baby to cuddle into. If you use something else, of course follow Vicky's advice!
    – sbi
    Sep 15, 2014 at 13:40
  • I'd be concerned that is too soft for infant bedding. Pillows should not be in the baby's bed area at all - if it isn't as firm as the (very firm) mattress, it doesn't belong in the crib.
    – Joe
    Sep 18, 2014 at 14:58
  • @Joe: The one we used was stuffed with spelts(sp?), and thus not fluffy. :-)
    – sbi
    Sep 18, 2014 at 16:37
  • you can get co sleepers that work like that.
    – Ida
    Sep 18, 2014 at 18:58

My daughter had slept in her bed (120/60 cm) from the start and had no trouble moving to another room from our bedroom. At first she almost always stayed in the position we laid her in, but later she seemed to make a good use of all the extra space by rolling around.

If you make a decision which makes the baby sleep a long way from you, you will change the decision after a few days. You will wake up several times per night for the first dozen weeks, and particularly walking up and down the stairs really should be out of the question. With the typical sleep deprivation and a bit of bad luck you'll fall down those stairs pretty quickly.

If you had room for the bed, I'd suggest bed. Some children respond badly to change, and you'll want to move the baby our of your bedroom at some point. Changing both the basinet to bed and the room may be harder than just changing the room.

If you really can't fit the bed in your bedroom - use the basinet. I don't know how large it really is, but if your little one turns out to grow out of it quickly, you may have a problem. But for the crucial, difficult and taxing first weeks you really have to have the baby close during the night.

You can also consider two other things: co-sleeping (here's one and two good questions and answers about it) and ... moving one parent to the baby's room. That way one of you could get a good nights sleep.


Definitely agree that you should not have the baby far from your room, unless you're not breastfeeding and don't mind putting a second adult bed or couch in the baby room for the first few months. There are plenty of options for what to sleep the infant in, however:

  • Moses basket for the first month or two
  • Bassinet - doesn't have to be an expensive one, plenty of $50 range bassinets
  • Cosleeper - a specific kind of bassinet that attaches to your bed to make breastfeeding easier
  • Cosleeping in your bed - this is somewhat controversial and may have some risks, but many believe strongly in cosleeping; do your research.
  • Crib in your own room - if it fits (even in a complicated manner), this is perfectly acceptable, as long as the crib has a 'high' setting that you can easily get the child out when you're tired. If you're very short and/or the crib doesn't have an infant setting, this may be too difficult.

Do not use a regular child bed, as the mattress will not be firm enough.

  • Sorry, I wasn't clear on that - with "full-sized baby bed" I actually meant a crib. It's simply that a Google image search of the word crib returned a lot of pictures of both cribs and bassinets, so I was afraid that using the word crib would be confusing. Sep 28, 2014 at 11:36

As several other answers have already suggested, you should definitely get something that will let your baby sleep in the same room you sleep in for the first few months of their life.

However, if you're looking to be economic about your purchase, you might want to consider a portable playyard/travel crib like a Pack 'N Play.

Many of these come with bassinet add-ons that are suitable for newborns. They transition into a crib-sized sleep area once they grow older, and they're easy to pack and move in case you want to travel with your baby or bring it outside your bedroom for them to take a daytime nap.

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