Best cradle

Playards & Portable Beds

Once your baby learns to roll over, a cradle is no longer a safe place for them to sleep, so you’ll need to move them into a full-sized crib.

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WHICH CRADLE IS BEST?

Young babies need a safe spot to sleep in the same room as their parents. While you can put your baby in a crib from day one, many new parents prefer the ease and compact size of a cradle for use in the early days.

If you need more information to pick out the best cradle for your baby, keep reading. We’ve also selected our three favorites, including our top pick, the BabyBjörn Cradle. This pod-style cradle is a sturdy yet lightweight choice that gently rocks infants to sleep.

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU BUY A CRADLE

Rocker

All cradles have some type of rocker — this is what differentiates them from bassinets. The majority of cradles have classic rockers on the bottom of the legs, much like you’d find on a rocking chair. However, in some cases the basket itself has the ability to swing or slide, while the legs remain stationary. Ideally, there should be some way to stop or lock the rocking mechanism for times when you don’t want or need it.

Pod vs. classic

Classic cradles are generally made from wood with slatted sides, similar to a crib but smaller, and with the mattress positioned higher. Pod-style cradles are a newer invention, with breathable fabric sleeping pods on a metal or wooden frame. Pod cradles tend to cost more, but they’re lightweight and easy to assemble.

Mattress

The majority of cradles include a mattress, so you won’t need to worry about buying one. However, if your chosen cradle doesn’t have a mattress included, make sure the one you buy fits exactly, with no gaps between the mattress and the side of the cradle where your baby could get caught.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A QUALITY CRADLE

Color

You’ll want to choose a cradle that coordinates with or matches your existing décor. You’ll find wooden cradles in many different colors and finishes, including some painted wood options. The fabric part of a pod cradle often comes in a range of shades.

Style

Some cradles look extremely modern, whereas others have a vintage appearance. What you choose depends entirely on your preference, since it won’t impact on the cradle’s performance.

Age range

Make sure your cradle is suitable for your baby’s age and weight. Most are suitable for use from birth, but some have a minimum weight that small babies or preemies might not meet. Also pay attention to the maximum weight limit, though you should move your baby onto a crib once they can roll over or sit up independently, which usually happens before they become too heavy for the cradle.

HOW MUCH YOU CAN EXPECT TO SPEND ON A CRADLE

The majority of cradles are priced somewhere between $80-$200, depending on the type of cradle and its overall quality.

CRADLES FAQ

Q. How does a cradle differ from a crib or bassinet?

A. A crib is a large high-sided bed for babies right through to toddlerhood, and a bassinet is a small raised bed designed for newborns and infants. The term “cradle” is sometimes incorrectly used to describe a bassinet, but they’re two slightly different items. The biggest difference is that cradles have some kind of rocking mechanism, whereas bassinets are static. Cribs are often slightly larger than bassinets, too, though not as large as cribs. 

Q. Are there any safety concerns regarding cradles?

A. Assuming that you follow the recommended safe-sleep guidelines, there’s no more of a risk to using a cradle as there is with any other type of bed for your baby. That said, we’d recommend buying a brand new cradle since all manufactured from 2011 onward must meet U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards by law. We’d also recommend choosing a cradle certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA).

WHAT ARE THE BEST CRADLES TO BUY?

Top cradle

BabyBjörn’s Cradle

BabyBjörn’s Cradle

Our take: This contemporary-looking pod cradle offers gentle, side-to-side rocking motion to soothe your baby.

What we like: The mesh sides are breathable and allow you to see inside easily. It is JPMA-certified and lightweight enough to move around the house for supervised naps.

What you should consider: It can move around somewhat when babies wriggle if you don’t lock the rocking mechanism.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon 

Top cradle for the money 

Dream On Me’s Rocking Cradle

Dream On Me’s Rocking Cradle

Our take: This classic wooden cradle comes at an extremely reasonable price and with a range of colors to choose from.

What we like: The support pin lets you stop the rocking motion. It includes a mattress/slumber pad and offers a roomy design. The assembly is relatively straightforward.

What you should consider: The mattress is on the thin side.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon 

Worth checking out

Green Frog’s Baby Bassinet Cradle

Green Frog’s Baby Bassinet Cradle

Our take: This is great as a full-time cradle, but also packs down for travel use and includes a handy carry bag.

What we like: It’s extremely easy to assemble — just snaps together. It has breathable mesh panels on each side and the fabric parts are removable and washable.

What you should consider: This is on the pricey side.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon 

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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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