You’ve put your precious infant to bed, swaddled and on his back just as the pediatrician has recommended.
A few hours later, you notice that your fairly immobile baby has somehow wriggled himself closer to the side of the bassinet. This can cause your heart to race.
Is this safe? Can he breathe? Parents want to do what’s best for their babies and sleeping positions factor into that.
How do I stop my baby from wriggling to the side of the bassinet? Swaddling babies who are under three months of age can help minimize mobility and the ability to move themselves to the side of the bassinet. Check the baby often, and reposition as necessary. Babies who are able to roll by themselves should be moved to a crib.
The saying “back is best” is the standard for early sleeping for infants. If your baby has shifted somehow to the side of the bassinet or crib, their safety could be at risk.
Until babies are able to roll easily and comfortably from back to front and front to back, they should be sleeping on their back in the middle of the bassinet.
There are several ways to accomplish this and aid in keeping your infant as safe as possible.
Baby Moving to Side of Bassinet
Your baby’s safety in moving to the side of the bassinet is fairly dependent on their age and their milestones.
There is a difference between a month-old baby sleeping on the side of the bassinet and a 5-month-old doing the same thing.
It’s remarkable how quickly babies can seem to maneuver themselves despite all the safety precautions we put in place.
Is It Safe for Baby To Sleep Against the Side of Bassinet?
Newborns should be sleeping on their backs in the middle of the bassinet.
A 5-month-old who is able to roll over with ease is safer to be sleeping against the side of the bassinet but should most likely be transitioned out of the bassinet at this time.
Safety is also dependent on if the bassinet has mesh sides that are breathable.
Will Mesh Sides Prevent Suffocation?
Mesh sides do help prevent suffocation. If you are choosing to use a bassinet or a pack-n-play for your baby to have them close, one with mesh sides is the best choice.
Should You Move Your Baby Back to the Middle?
You should move your baby away from the sides if the sides aren’t breathable and if your baby is unable to roll independently.
You should also move your baby back to the middle if they are still swaddled and unable to roll on their own.
Will Swaddling Stop The Problem?
A swaddled baby is a less mobile baby. Swaddling your baby, especially if they are under 3 months, should help them stay closer to the middle of the bassinet or where you originally put them.
If your child is rolling on their own, it’s time to stop swaddling.
Can Baby Stay in Bassinet if Rolling Over?
Babies who are able to sit up or roll over on their own should be transitioned out of the bassinet. Babies who are able to move independently are at risk of falling out of the bassinet or tipping over.
Is It Okay To Slightly Prop-Up Mattress Sides?
Propping up the sides of the mattress to prevent babies from moving is not safe. Babies need to be sleeping on a completely flat surface in order to prevent rolling before they are able to move back to a safe breathing position.
A mattress is not a breathable material and could cause suffocation.
Bassinet Age Limit
Most babies are ready to transition to a crib from a bassinet anywhere from 4-6 months. Other signs that your baby is ready would be the baby pushing to their hands and knees and reaching about 15 pounds in weight.
Bassinet Weight Limit
Most bassinets are recommended for use until your baby reaches about 15 pounds.
Newborn Rolling to His Side in Bassinet
Sometimes babies surprise even themselves and roll to their side when sleeping. If you have a newborn, this could be dangerous.
Newborns should be sleeping on their backs in the center of the bassinet. A newborn on his side could easily roll to his stomach and be unable to adjust his head to breathe easily.
Remember that for newborns, back is best.
Newborn Rolling Over Too Early
Most babies will begin rolling in the 2-4 month age range. If your baby is rolling over before that and unable to move themselves to their back, you should adjust their position.
There is also research that suggests that if your newborn is rolling over before that standard range, it could be a sign of cerebral palsy. If this is happening, it’s smart to consult your doctor.
Antique or family heirloom bassinets might not meet the current safety standards so they might not be the best choice. Also, always make sure that your bassinet hasn’t been a part of a recall.
Many newer models of bassinets have mesh sides that provide the least risk of suffocation. Another safety precaution is to make sure that your bassinet wheels are locked if it has them.
Bassinets should have hard mattresses, not soft ones.
Lastly, bassinets should have no other items in them when a baby is sleeping to prevent breathing obstructions.
Pack ‘n Play vs. Bassinet
Bassinets are intended for use for just the early months of infancy whereas pack ‘n plays can be used for much longer. Bassinets are only meant to be used for sleep, but pack ‘n plays are able to be used for contained play as well as sleep.
Most babies will transition out of a bassinet by 5 months. Pack ‘n plays serve different functions as your baby grows. Also, many pack n’ plays come with an attachable bassinet feature with mesh sides for your newborn.
When To Move Baby Out of Bassinet
Babies should be moved out of a bassinet when they are about 5 months of age or 15 pounds. Babies who are growing increasingly mobile and able to push up on their knees and roll over should also be transitioned into a crib.
When To Move Baby to Own Room
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep in their parents’ room, but not in the same bed, for the first six months.
Sleeping in the same room as your baby for up to a year can reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 50%.
There are many devices on the baby market that track babies’ oxygen levels and heartbeat should you feel the need to transition your baby into their own room sooner.
Tips for Transitioning Baby From Bassinet to Crib
Developing a sleep routine with your baby can help immensely when transitioning them from a bassinet to a crib.
Typically, moving your baby to a crib also means moving them into their own room. You want to set yourself and your baby up for success and safety.
- Make sure the mattress is firm and free from obstructions.
- Many sleep consultants recommend blackout curtains and a sound machine.
- You can start by having your infant take naps in their crib to ease into it and then begin putting them to bed at night in their crib.
- A video baby monitor is also a good piece of equipment to put your mind at ease during this transition.
Is It Safe for Baby To Sleep in Pack ‘n Play Every Night?
A pack ‘n play is a perfectly safe alternative to a crib or bassinet. If you plan on using a pack ‘n play long term, investing in a hard mattress could be a good idea.
Also, mesh sides come fairly standard on a pack ‘n play and are the best choice for safety.
Are Bassinets Safe?
Modern bassinets are very heavily regulated by consumer product safety commissions. These commissions exist to provide parents with the best possible information for the different choices.
If your bassinet meets all the safety requirements and your baby is still within the weight and mobility requirements, your baby should be safe.
Part of being a parent is worrying about our children and their safety.
If your baby is moving to the side of a bassinet or pack ‘n play before they are able to move themselves to their back, the best action is to move them away from the sides, even if the material surrounding them is breathable.
Newborns and young infants should be sleeping on their backs. While this might mean more interrupted sleep for parents during already sleepless nights, safety should come first.
Babies who are moving and rolling more in their sleep are probably ready to be transitioned out of a bassinet. These are the general rules to live by concerning early infant sleep!
As a twin mom herself, Nikki is passionate about helping moms and twin parents learn how to manage their chaos better. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) practicing Marriage and Family Therapy.