The choice of a good rocking bassinet can easily overwhelm you if you don’t know EXACTLY what you’re looking at.
Are they safe?
Can my baby sleep in it?
What about rolling over and the risk of SIDS?
Today, we take a methodical step-by-step approach to answering all those questions and making a few bassinet recommendations.
Best rocking bassinets – my top 6 picks:
|Image||Best rocking bassinet||Features||Price|
|Fisher-Price Soothing Motions||CLICK FOR PRICE|
|BABYBJORN Cradle||CLICK FOR PRICE|
|MiClassic Foldable 2-in-1||CLICK FOR PRICE|
|Ingenuity Foldaway Rocking Wood Bassinet||CLICK FOR PRICE|
|Slumber Deluxe portable bassinet||CLICK FOR PRICE|
|SNOO smart bassinet||CLICK FOR PRICE|
Fisher-Price Soothing Motions – Best Overall
The Fisher-Price Soothing Motions is one of the top values I’ve seen in a bassinet. And that goes beyond the “rocking” category.
You only see comprehensive soothing features like this in bassinets that cost more.
And that’s not even what I like most about it (more on that in a second).
- Rocking motion generated by the baby
- Two light modes – calming projections or night light
- Top of the line overhead mobile with hanging toys
- Soothing music, sounds, and vibration (30 minutes)
- Battery-powered (3 C batteries)
- Wipeable pad and machine-washable sheets
Why I love it
This Fisher-Price features the smoothest self-generated motion I’ve seen in a rocker. The “baby-powered” bassinet is easily comparable to similar products that cost two or three times as much.
That makes it my pick for the best rocking bassinet overall. It’s all in the geometry of the frame suspension.
On a side note, I love the attention to detail in the packaging and how easy it is to assemble.
What could be better: I’d love to see a locking mechanism to give you more control over the rocking.
To see my full review of the Fisher-Price Soothing Motions, click here.
BABYBJORN Cradle – Best Classic
I love this refreshingly modern take on the classic bassinet. It’s a manual rocker that boasts a Scandinavian aesthetic at its best.
In terms of rocking, the frame is well balanced and does a good job of maintaining motion.
If you know what to expect, that is.
Let me explain…
You shouldn’t expect the kind of prolonged self-powered rocking that you’d get from a bassinet like Fisher-Price.
- Frame designed to rock the baby gently
- Lightweight and portable (13 lbs)
- Mesh sidewalls for breathability
- Carries the JPMA certification seal
- Inner mattress and fabrics are machine-washable
Why I love it
Apart from the minimal design, I’m also a fan of the premium feel. Frame to mesh, everything about the BabyBjorn feels high-end.
If you looked at the price first and then the features, you might be confused because there’s not a lot there
You’d understand the premium price point only if you saw the thing in person and felt the materials.
MiClassic Foldable 2-in-1 – Best Portable
When I look at bassinets like this MiClassic (extra light and foldable frame), the first thing I hunt for is safety certification.
This one is CPSIA-certified (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) which is voluntary and a massive plus.
- Easy-folding frame for portability (no tools)
- Stationary and rocking mode
- Removable and machine washable fabric
- Padded mattress and waterproof sheets (sheets purchased separately)
- Comes with a handy carry bag
Why I love it
The one thing that stands out the most is the price. I wouldn’t call it cheap, but it’s a great value proposition.
It’s light enough to be a great travel bassinet but solid enough to be a primary bassinet if the money is tight.
See my full review of the MiClassic 2-in-1 bassinet here.
Ingenuity Foldaway Rocking Wood Bassinet
I’ve always felt that Ingenuity doesn’t get the attention they deserve as a brand. That’s probably true for the company behind it, too – Kids2.
Across their four brands (Baby Einstein, Bright Starts, Ingenuity, and its by Ingenuity), Kids2 makes a range of solid, affordable products.
The Foldaway Rocking bassinet is an excellent example of that.
- Two modes – stationary and rocking
- Unfolds up and down in seconds
- Cooling mesh walls for airflow
- Generously size canopy (optional)
- Stylish wooden frame with a rustic look
Why I love it
I love the design and the sizing. It’s a perfect fit for a Snuggle Me or Rock-a-dock lounger.
Note: It goes without saying that you should only use it with a lounger when you’re directly supervising the baby.
You can see my complete review of this Ingenuity bassinet here.
Top for outdoors use – Slumber Deluxe portable bassinet
Ranked as the 5th best rocking bassinet, we have a nice inexpensive unit from Baby Delight.
It’s my pick for outdoor use, and it shows how a simple feature like netting can make all the difference.
- Easy-fold frame for storage and travel
- Can be manually rocked or locked into position
- Canopy and extended netting (removable)
- The cover and sheets can be removed, and machine washed
- It’s JPMA safety-certified
Why I love it
I love the canopy-plus-netting design.
If you’re making a portable bassinet that you know people might use outside, netting is an intuitive feature. Yet, it’s missing from many bassinets that cost twice as much.
Kudos for that, Baby Delight.
SNOO smart bassinet – The Better Alternative to a Rocker
If you’re not entirely new to the parenting world, you’ve probably heard about this awesome bassinet.
It’s not a manual rocker, but I decided to include it as a better and safer alternative.
- Elaborate soothing features – motion, vibration, music, white noise (with a range of settings)
- Safest baby bed out there – patented swaddle keeps the baby on their back
- Automatic – ‘recognizes’ a fussing baby and automatically turns on
- Responsive – chooses the appropriate intensity levels on its own
- App controls with detailed sleep reports
Why I love it
This is the only bassinet on the list for which I’m using the phrase “love it” literally.
Because this is the bassinet that changed my life back in my son’s ‘wild’ phase. It’s the only thing that got him to sleep and it salvaged our sanity.
You can read more about my experience and my full review of the SNOO here. I also wrote a great comparison between the SNOO and the mamaROO.
What to look for in a good rocking bassinet
In the following section, I’ll do my best to untangle the complex subject of choosing the best self-rocking bassinet.
We’ll answer questions like:
- What’s safe and what isn’t?
- How much should you pay?
- What is the difference between a self-rocking and an auto rocking bassinet?
Two factor groups
For the sake of clarity, we’ll group all the contributing factors into two groups:
- Those specific to choosing the best rocking bassinet
- Universal factors that apply to all bassinets
We’ll address both.
Factors specific to a rocking bassinet
You want a bassinet that will rock the baby gently. This is the range of intensity where you use the power of rocking while keeping your little one safe.
Shaking a baby too intensely is far from safe and has been linked to SBS development (Shaken Baby Syndrome). I’m only mentioning it here to caution you against choosing a bassinet that doesn’t meet the federal safety guidelines.
Go with trusted brands and well-known sellers.
The bassinets we’re talking about here use gentle rocking that’s not anywhere close to “shaking.”
Rocking mechanism – manual, self rocking, and automatic
When we say “manual” in the context of the top rocking bassinets, we’re talking about products designed to use the initial motion (from you or the baby) and maintain a low level of rocking movement.
Long gone are the days of the heavy ol’ wooden bassinets that require you to sit by and rock it constantly.
On the other hand, you have the automatic bassinets – these use a motor for rocking movement. The best of them are even equipped with sensors that can recognize a fussing baby and start the soothing rocking (like the SNOO that we talked about above).
The latter are expensive but worth every penny. I’m not just saying that as a bystander; I’m saying it as someone who’s lived the transformation – from fussing sleepless nights to healthy sleep habits.
Universal factors of choosing a bassinet
There are a few basic rules to follow to make sure you’re getting a safe bassinet:
- Flat and firm surface (mattress) with no gaps or inclines – a bassinet like this minimizes the risk of SIDS
- Certification – if you’re buying new (which you should) and from a trusted seller/brand, a bassinet will meet the federal safety guidelines. As a precaution, go beyond that and look for a JPMA certification seal.
- No moving parts and no reachable toys – this one is obvious…anything that the baby can reach and pull down is a suffocation hazard
- Frame stability – this is especially important for portable bassinets. There’s a difference between a bassinet that folds down quickly and one that’s not stable enough for safety.
- Breathable walls – unrestricted airflow is paramount. A good bassinet will be structurally sound but not closed off. As a rule of thumb – go with mesh sidewalls.
- Follow the weight and size limits – this is pretty intuitive and self-explanatory. Each bassinet has a weight and height limit. Most of them also mention that you should move to a crib once the baby starts pushing down.
Modern soothing centers typically rely on motion, vibration, sound (white noise and music), and light.
What sets them apart is how elaborate the soothing systems are, how much control you have over the setting, and if all the features actually do their job.
The last one is especially true for sound – I know bassinets that have “soothing sound” listed in the specs but the cacophony that comes out of their speakers is anything but soothing.
Again, if you’re willing to splurge, you can get a state-of-the-art unit like the SNOO that goes beyond and takes on your role of ‘recognizing’ when the baby needs consoling.
If you’ll be moving the bassinet from room to room, you’ll want something that’s either light enough to carry or has lockable wheels.
If you plan to use it for travel, you want a bassinet that folds down and sets up easily. Ideally, it should come with a carry case or bag.
How much storage is enough? The answer to that is individual and depends on your space.
If you’re looking for a stationary bassinet and have an organizer nearby, you might be OK with one or no diaper pockets. For travel, you want as much storage as you can get.
Other factors of choosing a rocking bassinet
Some quality factors are beyond the scope of this guide.
Including them all here would make for a bloated read that would bore you to death.
Instead, I’ll only list so that you can note which of these is relevant for you:
- Materials and manufacturing – the fewer chemicals used in manufacturing, the better. The top rocking bassinets will make a point out of stressing their superiority here.
- Design – does it work with your space or not?
- Sheets and extra bedding
- Multifunctionality – there are bassinets out there that double as changers and bedside sleepers
FAQs about rocking bassinets
What is a rocking bassinet?
A rocking bassinet is a baby bed that makes use of gentle motion to soothe the little one.
They can be manual or automatic and often include other soothing features like vibration and sound.
Do rocking bassinets work?
Yes, rocking bassinets do work. The proof that rocking helps soothe fussing babies goes way back.
It also has firm grounds in modern studies that show significant improvements in sleep habits, especially when combined with other techniques like swaddling, holding, and shushing.
A good example of that is this 2019 study by the Japan Academy of Nursing Science.
Are rocking bassinets safe?
Yes, rocking bassinets are safe as long as the rocking is gentle and the bassinet meets all safety guidelines.
To make sure you’re getting a good one, check if the rocking bassinet carries a JPMA seal (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association). Unlike the federal safety guidelines, the JPMA certification is not mandatory, and only top products from the safest brands carry it.
Do I need a rocking bassinet?
You do need a rocking bassinet if you’re looking to improve the sleep habits of your baby.
When choosing one, stay away from those with vigorous rocking motions for safety reasons.
Can a baby sleep in a rocking bassinet?
Yes, a baby can sleep in a rocking bassinet as long as it meets the below-listed safety guidelines:
- Keeps them in a safe position, and the rocking is not intense enough to be a rolling hazard.
- The sleep surface is flat and firm, with no nooks or crannies that would be a suffocation hazard.
- The rocking is gentle and does not agitate them.
- The sleep position is not inclined.
How do you wean a baby off of rocking?
To wean a baby off of rocking, gradually build self-sufficient sleep habits by shortening the rocking time in minimal increments.
Long term, your goal should be to develop healthy self-soothing habits (as described in this study).
When to stop rocking them to sleep?
Stop or decrease rocking if you notice that your baby is becoming dependent on it to fall asleep.
Sleep association is a well-known phenomenon in babies – they might develop sleep patterns that work short-term but might hurt their sleep habits in the long run.
Applied to rocking, it means that you might want to use it at night but allow the baby to fall asleep without it during the day.
Rocking bassinets – the bottom line
If you made it this far and gave this guide an honest read, you’re better equipped to choose a good rocking bassinet than 99% of parents out there.
You know what to look for and what to stay away from. And you have specific recommendations on hand.
However, if you’re not choosing a bassinet today, I should “warn” you that our picks change, and this guide might look different in a month or two.
So, bookmark this page for future reference, and we have you covered.
If you want to continue reading, click here to skip back to the table listing my top picks.
Paul is a passionate dad who founded Upside Dad to share his parenting journey with other new parents. He graduated from Concordia University and worked as a test engineer for over a decade. Paul loves dad jokes and craft beer.
Learn more about Paul and Upside Dad here.