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Two in three bassinets fail our key safety tests

Even well-known brands such as Pottery Barn Kids, Baby Bjorn and Kmart are putting newborns at risk with unsafe bassinets.

baby asleep in bassinet unsafe
Last updated: 22 October 2019

Need to know

  • 24 out of 33 bassinets failed on key safety requirements in our tests, including bassinets from Pottery Barn Kids, Kmart and Baby Bjorn
  • There's no Australian safety standard for bassinets
  • A bassinet is an important item for new parents who follow safe-sleeping guidelines that babies should sleep in the same room as them for up to 12 months

When you bring your precious newborn home for the first time, you want to make sure you're providing a safe and secure sleeping environment.

For many families, that means bub will be sharing a room with you for at least a few months. In fact, the Red Nose organisation recommends the best way to reduce the risk of SIDS is for babies to sleep in their own safe space in the same room as an adult for the first 6 to 12 months.

So, a bassinet is an important buy when you're preparing for your little one's arrival. But when we recently tested a sample of bassinets from mainstream brands such as Pottery Barn Kids and Baby Bjorn, more than two-thirds failed our safety tests. Others had minor safety failures that left us unable to recommend them.

How do we test bassinets for safety?

"There's no Australian safety standard for bassinets, which is how lots of potentially unsafe bassinets make it onto the market for new parents to buy," says Kim Gilmour, CHOICE's baby product expert. 

"When we test bassinets for safety, we use our own in-house method that's based on a typical home setting and other existing safety standards such as for cots. Of all the currently available bassinets we tested, 24 out of 33 had serious failures.

Of all the currently available bassinets we tested, 24 out of 33 had serious failures.

Kim Gilmour, CHOICE baby product expert

"We look at things like whether the bassinet has sufficient breathable zones to prevent suffocation, that there are no entrapment hazards, and no materials or objects that can come loose and cause an injury," says Kim. 

"We also assess how sturdy the construction is and whether the bassinet is at a sufficient depth to prevent a fall if an older baby leans or crawls on the sides," she says. Read more on how we test.

Bassinet mattress also a safety issue

Other safety issues Kim sees regularly with bassinets result from using the wrong-sized mattress. 

"You should always use the mattress that comes recommended with the bassinet you've bought," warns Kim. "If the mattress is too small or too large, it can create a suffocation risk. If it's too thick, it could make your bassinet too shallow and create a fall risk when your baby starts to pull themselves up, after which you should stop using the bassinet and move onto a cot." 

"If you have space in your room, a regular cot is the safest option, but if you do want a bassinet, there are a few things to look out for," she says. "The most important are to ensure a firm, well-fitted mattress and breathable zones on all four sides."

unsafe nursery designs cot bumpers

When it comes to nursery design, avoid choosing style over safety. Canopies hanging over the bassinet and extra items in the bassinet can create hazards.

Style over safety

In the era of Instagrammable nurseries and online influencers who take stylish snaps of their sleeping bubs, it's a worrying trend that bassinets might be chosen for looks over safety. 

Bassinets woven from natural plant materials such as rattan or cane are a current favourite for parents looking for a 'unique, earthy' look, but they carry some risks, according to Kim.

"Although you may like the look of a rattan or wicker bassinet, we find that this material can often have splinters and rough, jagged ends on the wickerwork that could cause skin or eye injuries," she says. 

This is the case with the Pottery Barn Kids Bassinet, which scored only 40%. The bassinet also posed a serious risk of limb entrapment due to gaps in the wicker design, which contributed to its low score.

It's a worrying trend that bassinets might be chosen for looks over safety

A rattan bassinet from The Rattan Collective, which retails for a relatively steep $395, scored just 20%. Serious safety failures included gaps that are a limb entrapment hazard and inadequate instructions to help you place the mattress correctly. 

When alerted to the failures the manufacturer told us: "To completely remove any doubt, we would be happy to add a label to the mattress referring to the correct placement."

Kim advises: "To ensure you're making the safest and most informed choice for your child, I recommend you read our bassinet buying guide and cot buying guide and check our product reviews before you buy." 

The bassinets that failed CHOICE safety tests

BabyBjörn Cradle 041121
Cariboo Classic
Cariboo Folding
Cariboo Gentle Motions
Chicco next2me 10840
Childcare Carme Bassinet 036513-385
Kmart Anko Bassinet 42712893
Pottery Barn Kids Bassinet and Mattress set
Star Kidz Compagno Deluxe Baby Bassinet
Troll Sun Bassinet
Arm's Reach Cambria Co-Sleeper 8300-N
Arm's Reach Mini ARC Co-Sleeper 5111-N
Baby Inc Sonno Bassinet N9859
BabyBay Original, Mattress and Side Panel
Bebe Care Crib 096328-003
Bednest Bassinet
Fisher-Price Stow 'n Go Bassinet FBR72
Grotime Eurella
Halo Bassinest 3840
Ingenuity Foldaway Rocking Bassinet 10896
Ingenuity Foldaway Rocking Bassinet Classic 11557
Sunbury Cocoon Bassinet 41100-08
The Rattan Collective Yami
Ya.Ya.Ya Soothing Motions Bassinet HD3689-F