A bassinet is likely to be the very first bed for your little bundle of joy. While it is perfectly acceptable and safe to introduce your baby to a full-sized crib from the onset, traditionally parents use a bassinet for the first few weeks or months of a baby's life. The closeness of the small space within the bassinet appears to be comforting to the infant, and the portability of this type of crib gives parents the security of having the baby close at hand.
Bassinet is a French word that refers to a basin; to most people, a bassinet means a small, oblong-shaped bed for an infant. Most bassinets come with detachable hoods, and many bassinets come with wheels for the convenience of moving the infant crib from room to room, or with foldable legs for saving space. Some people also refer to certain types of baby carriages as bassinets.
Styles of the bassinet have not changed much through the years - and that is part of their charm. Most bassinets are made of lightweight materials such as wicker or wood. Most are painted white to be gender neutral. It is in the bedding and the decorating of the bassinet where parents, and grandparents, can choose to add a personal touch. Deeply gathered skirts or flounces usually circle the edge of the bassinet, and the hood can be decorated with lace, trimming, ribbon and flowers. With the advent of ultrasound testing, it is now possible to know the gender of the baby before its birth. The results of these tests allow parents to choose a color scheme specific to a little boy or girl.
Before the baby arrives, parents should decide whether they intend to purchase a bassinet. While some people consider a bassinet to be a luxury item, bringing baby home to a fairytale bassinet may be part of a lifelong dream. Currently, there are federal safety guidelines but no set standards for bassinets, so if you do intend to set up a bassinet before the blessed arrival, here are a few safety tips on purchasing a bassinet:
- Check to make sure the mattress pad fits securely. There should never be a gap between the pad and the bassinet edge of more than two fingers width at any given spot.
- Be sure that there are no sharp or rough edges that could cause cuts or scrapes to either the baby or the parent.
- Test the overall stability of the bassinet. The bassinet should be wide enough to provide a safe base, be made of solid construction, and any folding mechanisms should lock securely into place.
- If the unit comes with a hood, make sure it is detachable or that it folds back. Most people find that after a short while it is more practical to have the hood out of the way while tending to the baby.
- Choose a bassinet manufactured by a reputable company, one that stands behind the safety of their product.