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Making the Best Bassinet

Baby Shop Magazine


What Goes Into Making A Good Bassinet
    White Batiste Portable Bassinet 'n Cradle w/Toybox Base   
Bassinets are a popular choice for parents who want to keep their newborn nearby at night. Many babies also feel more secure when sleeping in the smaller, enclosed space of a bassinet.

Certain bassinet features are essential for safety; others simply offer additional utility and value. Regardless of how they are accessorized, bassinets generally have the following components besides the “basket” or bassinet itself: wheels, stand, hood, mattress pad, and bedding.

Basket – This can be made from woven wicker, wicker-like materials, a metal or plastic frame with fabric stretched over it, or a rigid material such as fiberboard or cardboard. Wicker baskets can be dressed or undressed. If parents wish to make their own bedding or purchase custom bedding, they’ll need to purchase an undressed bassinet with a rigid basket structure that can be easily dressed. Frame baskets include the basket, bedding, and skirting in one piece. When slipped onto the frame, the fabric creates a soft sided basket enclosure that is beautifully dressed. Fiberboard/cardboard materials usually yield sturdy, rigid-side baskets that are easy to dress and offer a more solid feel. Basket construction and materials are not as important as always ensuring that no holes, rips, sharp edges, loose fabrics, or long threads or ribbons are present to endanger baby. When no safety concerns are present, the rest of the purchase decision is generally based on personal preference. Standard baskets measure from 12”W x 27”L to 14”W x 29”L; there are also Jumbo models measuring approximately 15”W x 30”L. Basket depth can be anywhere from 8” to 12”. Bassinets are usually rated for up to 15 pounds (6.82 kg) or until baby can roll over or push up on hands and knees.

Wheels - Most bassinets have casters or some other type of wheel assembly allowing you to move the bassinet around. Some wheels are for decorative purposes only, while others have wheels that roll smoothly on carpets and hard floors. Some also have a locking feature.

Stand - Bassinet bases usually are usually made of metal tubing, wood, wood composite board, wicker, or plastic. Look for something that is strong, sturdy, stable, and safe. It should not be wobbly or loose or have any exposed sharp or pointy parts to pinch fingers. If it folds, it should have strong locks that ensure it won’t collapse accidentally. An imbalanced or top heavy bassinet could tip over or be pulled over by a curious, small child wanting to see inside. The base should be wide enough to be stable but not so wide that it sticks out too far and becomes a tripping hazard. If the stand meets these basic criteria, then consider extra features, such as storage space to keep diapers, changing supplies, clothes, and toys handy. Some stands have shelves, some a mesh basket. With a long skirt there won’t be easy access to underneath storage. With a short skirt, an attractive base is important. Some stands allow you to remove or flip-up the wheels and then rock the bassinet from side-to-side on a specially designed cradle stand. Other models allow you to adjust the height. The stand is typically where most of the assembly is needed on bassinets. Be sure to instruct your customers about how much assembly and what tools are needed. Also, check to see if detailed, illustrated instructions are included and if the manufacturer has a toll-free number for assistance.

Hood – An option on most units, a hood helps shade baby from harsh light and adds to the bassinet’s classic look. Sometimes it’s adjustable or removable. Solid wicker or plastic hoods can be covered with fabric or left bare. Plastic frame hoods which require a fabric cover are more common. Particularly on wicker units, the hood may be permanently woven into the bassinet body. If the bassinet is covered with insect netting, the hood will help support it and keep it taut.

Mattress Pad – Every bassinet should have a comfortable mattress pad that fits securely without leaving gaps or being folded over. One- to two-inch pads are the most common.

Bedding and Skirts – Anything goes with bassinet bedding, now available in an endless variety of colors and fashions. Your may have a simple fabric liner, a short or half skirt that covers the basket but not the stand, or a long skirt that cascades to the floor. At the very least, the bedding set will line the interior of the bassinet and include a sheet. At the other end of the spectrum, liners with attached skirts (long or short), sheets, and coordinated canopies or hood covers are also available. While it’s bedding that is easy to clean and wash is recommended, sometimes practical matters go out the window when emotion and fashion are so much a part of the decision. Nevertheless, it’s usually how a bassinet is dressed that will make or break Mom or Dad’s (or Grandma’s!) decision to purchase. Most mass-produced bassinets are pre-packed with bedding, but many custom designers will create the skirt of their dreams.

Extras - Increasingly common are bassinets with additional upgrades like attached mobiles or toys, or pockets on the skirt for storage. You’ll also find bassinets with electronic keypads that control vibration, music, night lights, or even a re-recordable computer chip that will hold a message you record for Baby.

Retailers should consider displaying a range of price points if they have room. By showing basic ($30-50), upgraded ($50-150), and designer ($150-200+) models side-by-side, customers can easily evaluate the space in their house and decide which features are essential to them. Bassinets sell better when shown out of the box so customers can evaluate the height, sturdiness, and look and feel of the bedding and extra features (if any).

When the right bassinet is purchased, parents can rest assured that they are ready to keep their sleeping baby safe, secure, and nearby, starting with her first night at home.

By Sara L. Logan
Vice President of Marketing
Badger Basket Company
Published in the Fall/Winter 2003 issue of Baby Shop Magazine


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