How Long Can One Use a Bassinet?by Michelle Powell-Smith
Bassinets are convenient for parents and can be cozier and more comfortable for a young baby. A bassinet allows you to keep baby close, either as you go about your daily activities or near your bed at night. Bassinets are intended for young infants, your baby will eventually outgrow the bassinet, whether it's a traditional one on wheels or a modern insert into a small play yard.
Bassinets provide a small and relatively mobile sleeping space for young infants under 4 to 6 months old, depending upon baby's size and mobility. Babies may sleep better in the smaller space, and parents often find it convenient and comforting to have baby nearby. Recent American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations suggest that parents keep young infants in their room for nighttime sleep, making bassinets a popular choice. Bassinets may be used for sleep, diaper changes, or just to keep a young infant close by as you tend to other tasks.
The classic bassinet features a large basket with a small, thin mattress on a frame. The frame often has wheels and may have a canopy and some storage beneath. Today, many parents opt for play yards with an included bassinet. In this case, the bassinet fits comfortably near the top of the play yard and the play yard itself is useful after baby outgrows the bassinet attachment. Play yards can typically be used until baby is around 30 lbs. and 35 inches tall, but the bassinet attachment is only appropriate for young babies. While various brands and styles of bassinets have their own weight limits, no bassinet is appropriate once baby is sitting up or rolling over.
Most baby bassinets should only be used until baby can roll over, sit up or move about freely. Once baby is moving independently, the shallow surface of the bassinet is not a safe option. Typically, this occurs between 4 and 6 months of age. Some babies become mobile earlier, so watch your baby for the appropriate time to stop using your bassinet. Bassinets are only suitable for babies that cannot yet roll, move or sit up.
Most bassinets come with a set weight limit. Typically, this is between 15 and 20 lbs. If you have a petite baby, you may be able to use your bassinet until baby is too old for it; however, larger babies will outgrow bassinets much sooner. Check the manufacturer's guidelines for your bassinet to determine the weight limit. If you are using a bassinet in a play yard, the weight limit as a changing surface may be a bit higher, but do be sure to stop using it as a sleep surface when suggested to keep your baby safe.
Smart usage can keep your bassinet safe. As with any infant sleeping surface, the mattress should be firm and free of extraneous bedding or padding. Check your bassinet regularly to make sure that all surfaces are intact and undamaged. Use a sleep sack or swaddling blanket instead of loose blankets in the bassinet. Always put baby to sleep on his back.
- baby image by Dron from Fotolia.com