Image © Patricia Fonseca
Most parents opt for either a Moses basket or a crib for babies. Below we take a look at both so you can make the right choice for your family.
There's something irresistibly sweet about a Moses basket. They look great, they're light to carry and move about, and their size makes them a flexible choice, as you can pop one on a stand by your bed, move it into the garden or even on the floor, all without disturbing your baby.
On the other hand, a crib offers the comfort of a proper mattress and a designated place of sleep. So, should you have a Moses basket or crib or, if the budget allows, is it worth getting both?
If It Was Good Enough For Moses...
Wicker Moses baskets are named after the religious prophet, due to the story of him being placed in one – or something similar – when he was launched into the Nile as a baby. However, these days you can also buy them made from man-made, anti-bacterial materials. They're small – most are between 70 and 80cm long and 30cm wide, with a removable mattress that sits on the bottom – which makes them infinitely portable and easy to move around your home so you can keep an eye on your baby while they're sleeping.
They will have handles on either side to facilitate lifting, and many have a movable canopy you can raise at the head end to block light. Some models have a stationary canopy. They can be bought on their own or with a folding stand that brings them to a handy height to make it easy to lift your baby in and out. Remember, when carrying your baby in the basket, use one hand to lift both the handles and another underneath to support your baby's weight.
Because of their low sides, they should only be used for the first few months, until your baby is three or four months old, as this is the age when babies start being able to pull themselves upright unaided. Until that stage, they're a safe option.
Since very young infants need night feeding, the most convenient place for your baby to sleep at night in the early months is next to your bed, which makes a Moses basket a simple and well-priced solution. The only downside to them is that you do need to always be careful about not knocking into the stand when you've placed the basket with your baby sleeping inside on top.
They cost from about £25, plus a stand, which costs from about £15, though of course, as with all things, you can spend a lot more for one as well.
The main difference between a Moses basket and a crib is size. As a crib is so much larger, anything up to around 70cm x 140cm, you're certainly not going to be carrying it from room to room. Also, expect the crib for your baby to be more of an investment, since your baby is likely to stay in this until they are at least two and very likely three or three-and-a half years old, as the transition to a proper first bed is a big one. Therefore, a crib is going to be more expensive than a Moses basket: expect to spend anywhere from £80 and upwards for the actual crib, plus from another £25 for the mattress. As for cot bedding, at this stage, just a fitted bottom sheet will be enough.
The main thing to keep in mind when shopping for a crib for your baby is, of course, safety. To that end, make sure the mattress you buy has been designed for the crib you're getting, as you want a tight fit between the mattress and crib so that there's no way your baby can get stuck between them. Similarly, there should be no more than a 6cm gap between the railings, so your baby can't get trapped between two. For the same reasons, avoid cribs with cut-out designs at the foot or head, any missing or loose parts, and no screws or pieces sticking out. This may mean declining the kindly offered hand-me-down or a second-hand crib.
Beyond those points, there are a few more things to consider. For instance, do you want a cot bed, which will have removable sides so that it eventually converts into your baby's first bed and will extend its usefulness for several years? Or a standard crib, with one side that can be lowered for ease of access to your baby? Since a standard crib is smaller than a cot bed, and you'll want your baby in your room until she's at least six months old, this may be a more convenient choice.
Your baby's sleeping environment is important. After all, your baby is going to be doing a lot of it. The big decision then, is Moses basket or crib? While you can, of course, go straight for a crib (also called a cot), and skip a Moses basket altogether, there is a good argument for having both, starting with the basket. During the first months, being able to put your baby to sleep in a portable sleeping basket is so convenient it's almost a no brainer. If you need to move around the house, you can pick the whole Moses basket up and take it with you, without disturbing your sleeping baby. If anything, the rocking motion of moving will be soothing to your baby.
Plus, according to the Lullaby Trust, for safety, having your baby sleeping next to you at night, but in her own space, for the first six months is the best option and a Moses basket is small enough to fit alongside most beds.
As for the stands for Moses baskets, you can buy a free-standing one or upgrade to one that provides a rocking motion, to soothe your baby to sleep.
If you decide to get a Moses basket first, you do not need to rush to buy a baby crib, as you'll have a couple of months before you'll need it.
Finally, a Moses basket is a clever investment if you end up having more than one child, as Moses baskets for babies are small enough to be popped in the loft until needed again.
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