Last Updated on September 6, 2022 by The Filtery Staff
With their small and still-developing bodies, newborn babies are some of the most vulnerable humans when it comes to the potential effects of toxic chemicals. Many traditional bassinets and crib mattresses are made with things like chemical flame retardants, synthetic memory foams, and more. That’s why many parents are doing what they can to decrease the amount of toxins in their little one’s environment.
And as we know, newborns spend most of their time sleeping! That’s why in this article, we’re going to talk about the different sleeping options for your newborn and then give our recommendations for the best organic and non-toxic bassinets, Moses baskets, and co-sleepers.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase. We only make recommendations that are genuine and meet our ingredient/material standards.
What Is a Moses Basket?
Pictured above, a Moses basket is literally a basket that you can put your baby in. It’s long and narrow and has handles for easy portability. A lot of parents like Moses baskets because they’re so lightweight and easy to move around the house, so your newborn baby can be close by wherever you are.
Moses baskets are usually only used for babies up to about four months (give or take a few weeks depending on the length, weight, and mobility of the baby). You know your baby has outgrown their Moses basket when they begin to pull themself up, lift their head, and/or roll over. Moses baskets have weight limits too, which will vary by brand but are usually somewhere around 15 or 20 pounds.
If you choose to purchase a Moses basket, just make sure you follow the instructions that come with it in order to keep your baby safe at all times and use the correct size bassinet mattress (not too big or too small). We’ll talk more about the AAP’s guidelines for safe baby sleeping in a minute.
What Is a Bassinet? (And What’s the Difference Between an Organic Baby Bassinet and a Crib?)
Both cribs and bassinets are safe places for babies to sleep. Bassinets and Moses baskets are smaller, so they might be a better choice for those with smaller living spaces. Cribs, however, will last longer as your baby grows.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPCS), a bassinet or cradle is defined as a “small bed designed primarily to provide sleeping accommodations for infants that is supported by freestanding legs, a stationary frame/stand, a wheeled base or a rocking base, or that can swing relative to a stationary base.”
The main difference between a bassinet and a crib is size. Cribs can be “full-size” or “non-full size,” but both are bigger than bassinets.
What is a Co-Sleeper?
Co-sleeping (also called bed-sharing) is when parents bring their babies to bed with them. Co-sleeping can be dangerous and can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), especially in younger babies, due to potential suffocation by sheets, being crushed by mom or dad, falling off of the bed, etc.
Some parents choose to use a co-sleeper, which is a special baby bed that allows the baby to sleep with their parent, but in a safer way. But are co-sleepers safe? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not necessarily recommend using co-sleepers. They state, “The AAP cannot make a recommendation for or against the use of bedside sleepers or in-bed sleepers until more studies are done.” One of the reasons for this is likely because there are different types of co-sleepers, which have different levels of safety. Using the same term for these various baby bassinets can be a bit confusing.
So, let’s talk about the three main types of co-sleepers:
Nest and In-Bed Co-Sleepers
An in-bed co-sleeper involves a little nest that is put on the parent’s bed which has walls that separate the baby from its parents, extra bedding, etc. This type of co-sleeper is not recommended (it can still fall off the bed if you roll over and potentially cause other dangers).
Attached co-sleepers attach to the side of a parent’s bed. It makes it easier to bring a fussy baby over to your bed to breastfeed or rock them, but then scoot them back over into their own bed when it’s time to go back to sleep. These types of co-sleepers are probably safer than nest and in-bed co-sleepers, but they still aren’t necessarily recommended but the AAP at this time.
This is where it gets kind of confusing because “freestanding co-sleepers” and bassinets are pretty much the same thing. Sometimes the terms bassinet and co-sleeper are even used interchangeably. But essentially, a freestanding co-sleeper is a completely separate bed for your baby, which is not touching the parent’s bed at all. It tends to be more portable than a crib (just like a bassinet). You can have it close by or right next to your bed, but doesn’t involve any bed-sharing. This is the type of sleeping arrangement that the AAP recommends for the first six months of a baby’s life.
Do Babies Need A Bassinet, Co-Sleeper, or Moses Basket? (What To Consider When Shopping)
There are several different things to consider when choosing what type of sleeping situation is best for you and your baby:
Especially when babies are very new, you want to be able to keep an eye on them all the time. Moses baskets are super portable and can easily be moved from room to room. The portability of bassinets varies by type and brand, but they’re definitely more portable than cribs.
Home & Bedroom Size
The next thing to consider is the size of your home and bedroom. Moses baskets don’t take up very much space, whereas cribs tend to take up a lot more space. You might not have room for a crib in your bedroom for the first six months of your baby’s life, so a basket or bassinet might work a lot better for you.
Many bassinets have mesh sides, which allow for airflow. Not only can they help keep your baby from getting too hot, but if they roll over and end up with their face against the side of the bassinet, they will still be able to breathe. Most of this mesh is nylon, which is a synthetic material. When it comes to toxicity, though, it’s not the best or the worst material. This is a situation where it’s worth using synthetic material in order to guarantee airflow.
Whatever product you choose, make sure it has a smooth bottom and a wide base so that it’s sturdy and cannot be knocked over.
Natural & Non-Toxic Materials
More on this one below!
What Are The AAP’s Safe Sleep Guidelines?
Regardless of whether you use a bassinet, Moses basket, or crib, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has a set of safety guidelines that should be applied across the board. Here are some of them:
- Place your baby to sleep in the same room where you sleep but not the same bed. Room share with the baby until at least six months of age.
- Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the crib. This includes extra bedding, stuffed animals, bumper pads, comforters, etc.
- Place your baby to sleep on its back for every sleep.
- Do not use sleep positioners, wedges, or other types of sleeping aides.
- Place your baby to sleep on a firm, flat sleep surface.
- Do not let your baby get too hot.
Important Note: Always Use Correctly-Sized Accessories
Most brands that make baskets and bassinets also make mattresses and fitted sheets that fit the exact dimensions of the bed. This is very important because a mattress that is too big or too small can cause infants to suffocate. Using extra sheets or blankets can also lead to suffocation, so always make sure you’re using correctly sized mattresses and fitted sheets, and do not use any extra bedding.
The safety guidelines listed here are not extensive. Be sure to read and follow all of the AAP’s safety guidelines and talk to your OB/GYN before bringing your sweet baby home for the first time.
Why Use An Organic/Non-Toxic Bassinet?
Babies’ small, developing bodies are especially vulnerable to the toxins in our environment—be it chemical flame retardants, plasticizers, and more. Many of these volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) that conventional furniture is made with are known endocrine disruptors (which means they can negatively alter hormones), carcinogens, or otherwise irritating. It’s not uncommon for babies to struggle with things like eczema, so many parents are doing everything they can to decrease the amount of toxins their baby is exposed to in order to support their overall health.
There are two different “levels” to consider when it comes to bassinet materials. The first is the cradle and/or frame portion. This can be made out of plastic, woven grass or cotton, metal, or something else. The second piece is the mattress.
A lot of conventional mattresses are made with synthetic materials like polyurethane foam, polyester, and other plastics. These are petroleum byproducts and they’re not healthy for humans.
One could argue that making sure the mattress part of your baby’s bed is non-toxic and/or organic is the most important part because it’s what is right against your baby’s face and touching their skin. Look for materials like organic cotton or linen along with natural wood and woven grass. Also look for third-party certifications such as GOTS, MADE SAFE, GREEENGUARD, and CertiPUR.
What Are VOCs and What Is Off-Gassing?
As mentioned above, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are commonly used in things like furniture. Many of them are human-made chemicals that often come in the form of things like foams, glues, and flame retardants. Here is a list of several VOCs that are commonly found in things like bassinet mattresses:
- benzene (also found in things like candles and crayons)
- ethylene glycol (a.k.a PEG, which is found in all kinds of products)
- methylene chloride
If you want, you can read more about VOCs here.
13 of the Best Organic & Non-Toxic Bassinets/Co-Sleepers For Your Baby
The good news is that there are some great non-toxic bassinets, Moses baskets, and co-sleepers on the market that are free from these toxicants and that you can feel good using. Here are our picks.
This Carry Cot is Finn + Emma’s “modern take on the class Moses basket.” It’s ethically made of super-soft organic cotton in a crocheted knit weave, and it features a removable mattress and pillow, as well as handles that make it easy to move. Plus, these beautiful pastel colors look beautiful in the nursery or any room in your home. When your baby outgrows the cot, it can be used as a diaper basket, toy bin, etc.
This is a pretty cool bassinet/crib 2-in-1 combo. The Fawn crib and bassinet system starts as a bassinet on wheels and can be converted into a full-sized crib as your baby grows. This modern, eco-friendly design is both practical and chic. It’s made from FSC-certified Baltic birch plywood and non-toxic and water-based finishes.
These Fair Trade Moses baskets are handwoven in Ghana using Elephant grass. Swahili African Modern showcases the brilliance of modern African design through a beautiful collection of artisan-crafted baskets (as well as hampers and other home decor), all of which is hand-woven by the Wolof women of Senegal who are traditional, artisan basket weavers.
This non-toxic bassinette is bigger than a basket but is still pretty portable with its removable wheels. It’s made out of New Zealand pine wood and carries a GREENGUARD Certification which means it’s free from a host of VOCs.
This bassinet is made from high-quality, natural materials like smooth walnut and Italian leather. The matching mattress is made with organic cotton, natural latex, and organic coco coir. It’s made in the USA and is GREENGUARD Gold certified. You’ll definitely find another use for this bassinet after your baby grows out of it.
If you’re looking for a stand to go with your organic bassinet, this website carries lots of them. Many of them rock, which can be an added feature to help soothe your baby to sleep. They’re handmade in Georgia, USA out of solid hardwood and certified Asthma & Allergy-Friendly paint. You can buy locks and/or brakes for them, too. Just make sure you get the right size for your basket!
This Etsy shop based in Oregon carries Moses baskets, mattresses, liners, and foldable basket stands. Their Moses baskets are hand-made in small villages in Morocco from organically grown palm fronds. Their mattresses are made from durable and eco-friendly hemp, organic cotton, and wool. Their stands are made with a hemp and organic cotton sling, leather straps, and a natural wood frame.
This brand carries a wide variety of Moses baskets that come in a lot of different (beautiful!) designs and shapes. Everything is handwoven by their artisan partners in Africa who have passed the skill of basket weaving down for generations. They have mattresses, liners, and stands to go with them as well.
Monte Design makes a modern rocking bassinet. It’s handcrafted in Canada using certiPUR certified, low-VOC foam, and zero flame retardants. It carries an OEKO-TEX certification as well, which means the final product has been tested for any toxic substances.
Naturepedic is one of the most trusted companies when it comes to non-toxic mattresses. Unfortunately, they don’t carry bassinets, so this is just a stand-alone mattress. But if you already have a bassinet, co-sleeper, or Moses basket that will fit these dimensions then it might be a great addition to your current setup. (Again, just make sure it’s exactly the right size!) This mattress comes with a whole handful of safety certifications, including MADE SAFE, GOTS organic, and GREENGUARD.
Whether you call it a Bedside Crib, bassinet, or co-sleeper, this baby bed has the ability to be either a freestanding bassinet or an attached co-sleeper. We recommend the “Natural” version because it’s made primarily from sustainably sourced Beechwood and plywood. The liner and mattress does contain synthetic polyester, but overall, it still contains less synthetic material than other conventional baby bassinets and co-sleepers.
If you’re looking for something that can be folded up and tucked away into the closet or thrown in the car, this might be a good option for you. Baby Delight makes a portable infant sleeper that can be easily folded for storage. The mattress portion does contain (unspecified) foam, but the fabric covering is made from GOTS organic cotton.
Other Common Questions about Popular Bassinet Brands
Is SNOO Mattress Organic?
SNOO is a popular brand that advertises itself as a “virtual babysitter” by providing sleep sounds and robotic rocking for your baby. Unfortunately, SNOO is not transparent about what their mattress is made out of, but it’s likely some sort of synthetic foam. The fitted sheet, however, is made from GOTS organic cotton.
Is the Halo Bassinet Non-Toxic?
Halo is another popular bassinet brand; depending on which version you get, your sleeper can swivel or vibrate to soothe your baby. But what are they made out of? According to Halo’s website, “the bed portion of the BassiNest Swivel Sleeper is made from 100% polyester fabric. The fitted sheet is a soft polyester knit. The base portion is made from steel, aluminum and high-impact plastic.” They go on to say that “all the plastic and paints used on BassiNest are lead, phthalate, and BPA-free.”
For these reasons, we’d put Halo in the okay-but-not-great category. It’s definitely reassuring that it does not contain lead, phthalates, or BPA, but there are also other potential problems with plastics and BPA alternatives that many parents may want to avoid. Ultimately, you have to make the best decision for you and your family based on all of the factors!
Is BabyBjorn’s Bassinet Safe?
According to their website, BabyBjorn’s Baby Cradle “is tested and approved according to the safety standard EN 1130. It stands firmly on the floor and has sturdy anti-slip feet. The airy mesh fabric makes the cradle cool and safe and also gives you good supervision of your little one.”
The materials include polyester (more on that here), MDF (more on that here), beechwood, polyether foam, and more polyester and PU foam. These are not exactly the type of natural, organic, and non-toxic materials that we like to see in baby products. So while the BabyBjorn is certainly safe with regard to function, it’s not anywhere close to being a natural or organic bassinet.
Your baby spends the majority of its new life sleeping, so you can feel good about choosing one of these non-toxic, organic bassinets for your new little love.