If you’re an expectant parent preparing for a baby’s arrival, researching strollers is likely on your to-do list. You’ll find that most standard strollers allow you to snap an infant car seat directly into the frame. This compatibility leaves many parents debating whether a bassinet attachment is really necessary. Or can you simply use the car seat clicked into the stroller?
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of stroller bassinets versus infant car seats. You’ll learn when each option is preferred, get safety recommendations, and discover the top-rated products in each category.
- What is a bassinet?
- What is a Car Seat?
- Here is the comparison table of bassinet vs car seat:
- Should You Bother With a Bassinet or Just Use the Car Seat?
- What are the potential pros of relying solely on the car seat?
- Key Differences Between Bassinets and Car Seats
- Recommended Uses for Bassinets vs Car Seats
- Top Safety Guidelines for Bassinets and Car Seats
- Final Recommendations – Stroller Bassinet vs Car Seat
What is a bassinet?
A bassinet is a small bed specifically designed for babies from birth to around 4-6 months old, or until the child is able to sit up on their own. A bassinet is typically more enclosed than a crib, with lower sides and a handle for portability.
What is a Car Seat?
A car seat is a specialized chair designed to safely transport infants and small children in motor vehicles. It has an inclined seat and safety restraint system that secures the child in place during travel.
Here is the comparison table of bassinet vs car seat:
Infant Car Seat
Allows flat position recommended for sleep - Not safety crash tested
Inclined seat - Rigorously crash tested
Bulkier and heavier - Stroller use only
Compact and lightweight Transfers from car to stroller
Allows baby to lie flat, More wiggle room, Open for visibility
Snug, nest-like, Less wiggle room, Harder to see baby
Requires stroller frame, Remove baby for car
Clicks in and out of car and stroller, No need to remove sleeping baby
$100 to $400+ Plus separate car seat
$60 to $300+
Typically 15 lbs or less
Usually up to 30 lbs
Should You Bother With a Bassinet or Just Use the Car Seat?
The choice between a bassinet or car seat often comes down to budget and practicality. Many parents opt to just snap the car seat into the stroller frame rather than purchasing a separate bassinet accessory.
What are the potential pros of relying solely on the car seat?
- More cost-effective since you avoid the added bassinet expense
- Lightweight and compact without the bulk of a bassinet
- Lets you move sleeping baby from car to stroller without waking them
However, there are some distinct downsides to using only the car seat:
- Car seat safety requires proper installation – When clicked into the base or stroller, the car seat must be completely secured for protection in the event of a fall or tip-over. An improperly installed car seat can be extremely dangerous.
- Not ideal for napping – Car seats are designed to keep babies semi-upright. This causes their heads to slump forward and obstructs breathing during sleep. For safe and comfortable napping, a flat bassinet is best.
- No weather protection – Unlike bassinets, infant car seats lack any shielding from the elements. Your baby will be exposed to sun, wind, rain, etc.
While the car seat snapped into the stroller frame seems convenient at first glance, a bassinet offers clear benefits for newborns. But is the added cost worth it?
Key Differences Between Bassinets and Car Seats
To determine if a bassinet is a wise investment, examine these key differences:
- Flat, firm sleep surface – Bassinets allow babies to lie completely flat, which is the optimal position for napping and brain development. Car seats keep infants semi-upright.
- Weather protection – Bassinets safeguard babies from sun, wind, rain, and other elements with weather shields, canopies, and enclosed sides. Car seats offer no coverage.
- Safety installation – With a bassinet, you simply lock it into the stroller frame until it clicks. But infant car seats must be meticulously installed and then properly clicked into the base for safety, which is more involved.
- everyday storage – Bassinets often allow access to a large undercarriage storage basket, perfect for errands and shopping. Car seats block storage basket access.
- Aesthetic appeal – Many premium strollers and travel systems offer elegantly designed bassinets that integrate seamlessly into the entire system, elevating the aesthetic. Car seats are purely functional.
- Portability – Once attached to the stroller, bassinets rarely detach, keeping the baby sleeping soundly inside. Transferring in and out of a car seat can wake the baby.
In summary, while less convenient for portability, bassinets better accommodate newborn needs for safety, comfort and protection. But when does it make the most sense to use each option?
Recommended Uses for Bassinets vs Car Seats
At different ages and for various activities, either the bassinet or car seat may be preferred:
- Newborn stage – From birth until about 3-4 months old, the bassinet is recommended for neighborhood strolls, walks in the park, trips to the zoo, shopping excursions, or other outdoor activities. The flat sleeping surface and protective enclosure provide essential safety and comfort.
- Quick trips – For shorter trips like doctor appointments or quick errands, the car seat snapped into the stroller works perfectly fine without disturbing the baby. The less involved option suffices for fast trips.
- Vehicle travel – Whenever traveling by vehicle, always properly install the infant in an approved rear-facing car seat. Never put newborns in a stroller bassinet inside a moving car. Car seats are specially designed to protect babies in crashes.
- Jogging or hiking – For jogging, trail running, or off-road hiking with an all-terrain stroller, the car seat will likely be the only safe option. Bassinets don’t typically attach securely to athletic strollers that encounter bumps and bounce.
Considering when you plan to use your regular stroller will help decide if investing in a bassinet is worthwhile. If you’ll primarily run errands around town, the car seat should meet your needs. But for leisurely walks around the neighborhood, a bassinet better suits a newborn.
Top Safety Guidelines for Bassinets and Car Seats
Whether you opt for a bassinet or car seat or choose to use both, keep these top safety guidelines in mind:
- Securely buckle baby – Always use the harness system to buckle baby snugly into the car seat or a bassinet. Never rely solely on the stroller’s restraint system without properly securing the baby in the seat.
- No hanging bags – Never hang heavy bags from the stroller handle, as this can cause a hazardous tip-over. Use the storage basket under the bassinet or car seat.
- Verify attachment – Before placing the baby in a car seat or bassinet, confirm it is clicked completely into the stroller frame by pulling up on it and ensuring no movement. Listen for the “click.”
- Observe size limits – Use the bassinet only until the baby reaches the weight and height restrictions, usually around 20 pounds or 26.5 inches. Move to a car seat beyond the limits.
- No unsafe accessories – Avoid hanging toys from infant car seats or using aftermarket products not approved by the manufacturer. Only use tested and recommended accessories.
- Supervise always – Regardless of the seat used, never leave the baby in a stroller unattended, even if sleeping in car seats. Fully supervise babies on every stroll.
Of course, proper use guidelines depend on your specific stroller models. Always consult the manufacturer’s instructions for in-depth safety tips. With vigilance and common sense, both bassinets and car seats keep babies secure.
Final Recommendations – Stroller Bassinet vs Car Seat
- A stroller bassinet is highly useful for neighborhood strolls, trips to the park, or other outdoor activities during the baby’s first 3-4 months. The protective, flat place to sleep space keeps newborns safest and most comfortable.
- For quick errands or appointments, the infant car seat snapped into the stroller allows easy transport without waking your baby. It provides portability between the car and the stroller.
- Consider a full travel system with a safe, highly-rated infant car seat and a bassinet stroller. Then add a bassinet later on if your lifestyle involves many leisurely outdoor walks.
- Prioritize safety first when choosing car seats and strollers. Look for models meeting all safety standards with excellent crash test results.
Frequently Asked Questions For Bassinet vs Car Seat
What is the difference between a stroller bassinet and a car seat?
A stroller bassinet allows a newborn to lie flat and is mainly for use with a stroller. A car seat is inclined, fits securely in the car and stroller, and is designed specifically for safety when traveling by vehicle.
Is a stroller bassinet or car seat safer for a newborn baby?
Car seats are the safer choice for traveling by car as they are rigorously tested for crashes. Bassinets allow baby to lie flat which is recommended for sleeping, but they are not safety crash tested. Proper use of either is important.
How long can a baby use a stroller bassinet?
Most stroller bassinets have weight limits of 15 lbs or less, so they are designed for newborns only for the first 3-6 months. Once a baby can sit up, they need an upright stroller seat.
What if I want my newborn to lie flat in the stroller?
Some higher-end strollers allow a car seat to be clicked into a lie-flat frame. This allows you to use the car seat safely in the car, and then have the baby lie flat in the stroller. Or attach a bassinet to the frame.
Is a car seat or bassinet stroller better for public transportation?
A stroller bassinet may be better suited for public transport as it allows the baby to lie flat and be more protected. Car seats leave the baby more exposed.
How do I transfer my sleeping newborn from a car seat to a stroller?
Choose a car seat that clicks securely into both the car base and stroller frame. Then you can move the sleeping baby from the car to the stroller without waking them.
While not an absolute necessity, a well-designed stroller bassinet creates the ideal environment for your newborn while running local errands or enjoying outdoor adventures. Rest assured that both bassinets and car seats safely transport little ones with proper use.
We hope this bassinet vs car seat comparison has provided clarity to help you make the best choice for your family. Let us know if you have any other questions as you shop for your baby gear!