Small, cozy, and portable, a bassinet might seem like the perfect place to put your new baby. As cute and convenient as it might seem, your bassinet won't get that much use, since babies outgrow them by about 4 months of age. In addition, a crib is the safest place for a baby to sleep.
Some bassinets meet voluntary standards set by ASTM International (formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials). But full-sized cribs have had to meet federal safety standards for much longer, and can be recalled if they fail to meet them.
There are no federal standards specifically for bassinets, cradles, Moses baskets, or bedside sleepers beyond those for such items as small parts and rough edges, and the spacing of rails. (See Crib alternatives to avoid: Bedside sleepers (co-sleepers) and Moses baskets.) The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act will eventually set mandatory requirements for many baby and infant products, including bassinets.
ASTM also has voluntary standards for cradles and has agreed to work on some for bedside sleepers. But we don't recommend using a bedside sleeper, because babies have slipped through gaps between sleepers and adult beds. If you want your baby nearby, keep the crib or bassinet close to your bed. Cradles, which are less popular than bassinets, should rock gently. (Those with a pronounced rocking motion can cause an infant to roll against a side, posing a suffocation hazard.)
Bassinet and cradle manufacturers can voluntarily comply with the ASTM standard. Look for a seal from the Juvenile Products Manufacturer's Association to see if they have. The certification can provide some level of assurance that the product met safety standards after lab testing. You might see products categorized as bassinets that don't have a JPMA seal. We don't recommend them. Make sure to read our Shopping tips and Safety strategies.
Consumer Reports has not tested bassinets, cradles, or other crib alternatives. We think a crib is the best place for your baby to sleep from birth up to about age 4. See our Ratings for Cribs.