Baby Moves to Side of Bassinet | Why & What You Should Do

It is important to note that placing a baby against the side of a mesh bassinet is still unsafe.

Swaddling babies who are under three months of age can help minimize their ability to move themselves to the side of the bassinet. 

Check the baby often, and reposition as necessary. Babies who continue to relocate themselves or are able to roll by themselves should be moved to a crib.

According to WebMD

“If they’re shifting positions and rolling over, it’s time to move them. A space that is too small for your baby, like a bassinet, can be dangerous for an adventurous sleeper because they can be smothered against the sides of their little bed.”

The first time I saw one of my babies with their nose smooshed against the mesh siding of their bassinet, I panicked.

My little girl was actually fast asleep and breathing just fine, but still… it was scary.

Within a few days, we transitioned out of bassinets, and both my little ones were safely sleeping in their own crib.

For my peace of mind, it was the right move.

Baby Moves to Side of Bassinet – Safety Concerns 

The saying “back is best” is the standard for infant sleep.

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.

  • Newborns: Newborns have limited head control and may not be able to move their heads away from the side of the bassinet. This can increase the risk of suffocation. Mesh sides provide better airflow, but you still should reposition your baby back to the middle.
  • Babies with more head control: Babies with more head control may have an easier time moving their heads away from the side; however, it’s still advisable to avoid having the baby sleep directly against the side, even if it is mesh.
  • Older babies on the brink of rolling: As babies become more mobile, there’s a greater risk of them ending up in a position where their face is against the side, potentially compromising their breathing. At this point, a Pack ‘n Play or crib is a safer option.

Whenever you find your baby against the side of the bassinet, move them back to the middle.

It’s also important to be sure the mattress is firm and fits the bassinet correctly without any gaps.

Remove all items from the bassinet to further decrease suffocation risks.

Mesh Sides Are Safer & Help Prevent Suffocation

Mesh sides do help prevent suffocation. If you are choosing to use a bassinet or a Pack ‘n Play for your baby, one with mesh sides is the best choice.

However, whenever your baby squirms to the side of the bassinet, it is still best to move your baby back to the middle.

If your little one continuously wiggles away from the middle of the bassinet, it’s probably time to look for a safer sleeping arrangement.

What To Do When Baby Moves to Side of Bassinet

It’s remarkable how quickly babies can seem to maneuver themselves despite all the safety precautions we put in place.

Your baby’s safety in moving to the side of the bassinet is fairly dependent on their age, their milestones, and the type of bassinet.

When To Move Your Baby Back to the Middle 

You should move your baby away from the sides if the sides aren’t breathable and 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. 

Babies who are able to sit up or roll over on their own should be transitioned out of the bassinet. 

Swaddling To 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 where you originally put them.

Some babies wiggle away from the middle of the bassinet in an attempt to free themselves from the swaddle.

If you think that this might be the case with your baby, stop swaddling, and switch to a sleep sack.

If your child is rolling on their own, it’s time to stop swaddling. 

Do Not Prop Up Mattress Sides

Propping up the sides of the mattress to prevent babies from moving is not safe. Babies need to sleep on a completely flat surface.

  • Risk of Suffocation: Propping up the sides of the mattress can create gaps or inclines where a baby’s head, face, or body could become trapped. This increases the risk of suffocation or strangulation.
  • Restricted Movement: Restricting a baby’s movement in this way can hinder their ability to adjust their position during sleep, which is important for comfort and safety.
  • Increased Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies should be placed on their backs on a firm, flat surface for sleep. Propping up the mattress goes against this guideline and may increase the risk of SIDS.
  • Lack of Airflow and Ventilation: Altering the mattress in this manner can impede airflow and ventilation, potentially leading to overheating or poor air quality.

When To Move Baby Out of Bassinet

A baby should be transitioned out of a bassinet when they outgrow it or when they start exhibiting signs of increased mobility and are nearing the weight or age limit specified by the manufacturer. 

Here are some general guidelines:

  • When a baby reaches age and weight limits (typically about 5 months of age or 15 pounds).
  • When a baby starts showing signs of increased mobility, such as rolling over, pushing up, or attempting to sit up.
  • If a baby has become too long for the bassinet and their head or feet are touching the sides or ends.
  • When the baby routinely wiggles to the side in a position that might compromise breathing.
  • If a baby is starting to show signs of trying to climb out of the bassinet.
  • If parents are uncomfortable or concerned about their baby’s size or activity level in the bassinet.

Why Babies Move to Side of Bassinet

Some babies are naturally more active during sleep than others and may wiggle and stretch throughout the night. 

Some babies seem to like the feeling of something pressing against their bodies. This likely reminds them of the confining space or the womb.

Other babies simply do not like to be swaddled and will squirm in an attempt to get more comfortable.

Occasionally, parents find that their baby tends to gravitate in their direction when placed in the bassinet.

Bassinet Safety

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.

Here are additional guidelines for safe bassinet use:

  • Firm Mattress: Use a firm mattress in the bassinet. It should fit snugly without any gaps around the edges.
  • Fitted Sheet: Use a fitted sheet that is specifically designed for the bassinet mattress. This helps prevent any loose bedding.
  • No Loose Bedding or Toys: Avoid placing loose bedding, pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, or toys in the bassinet. These can pose a suffocation hazard.
  • Back to Sleep: Always place your baby on their back to sleep. This is the safest sleep position and reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • No Positioners or Props: Do not use positioners, wedges, or props to try to keep your baby in a certain position. These can be hazardous.
  • Check for Wear and Tear: Regularly inspect the bassinet for any signs of wear, tear, or damage. Ensure that all parts are in good condition.
  • Mesh Sides (if applicable): If the bassinet has mesh sides, ensure they are intact and in good condition. This helps with airflow and visibility.
  • Proper Ventilation: Make sure the bassinet has proper ventilation to ensure fresh air circulation.
  • Avoid Overheating: Dress your baby in appropriate clothing for the room temperature. Avoid overdressing to prevent overheating.
  • Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions: Assemble and use the bassinet according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Use a Certified Bassinet: Choose a bassinet that meets current safety standards and certifications.
  • Supervision: Always supervise your baby when they are in the bassinet.
  • Bassinet Age Limit: Most babies are ready to transition to a crib from a bassinet anywhere from 4-6 months.
  • 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. 

A cute newborn in colorful pjs lying awake in his bassinet.

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 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.