Updated: 20th April 2023
A cot is often one of the first big purchases a couple makes when they learn they’re expecting a baby.
And while it’s certainly one of the most important purchases parents will make before the birth of their firstborn, most babies won’t sleep in a cot until around six months of age. Instead, the purchase of a moses basket (otherwise known as a Bassinet) is somewhat less spoken about, but it’s arguably even more important.
Some of you may be wondering why you need a moses basket when you already have a cot (or even wondering what a moses basket is). Experts say your child will spend more time sleeping than awake in their first two years of life, so creating the right environment for sleep is essential.
We’ve put together this guide to help you understand everything you need to know about moses baskets and reviewed the best moses baskets you can buy.
What is a moses basket and what is it used for?
In its simplest form, a moses basket is traditionally a wicker (or wicker effect) bassinet with two carry handles that sits upon a folding wooden frame. The bassinet is usually lined with a cotton cover and holds a small oval-shaped mattress. Some may also come with a collapsible fabric hood.
According to the Lullaby Trust, a charity set up to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), the safest place for a baby to sleep for the first six months is on their own surface and in your room.
While there is no particular reason a newborn baby can’t sleep in a full-sized cot, many parents find that the smaller size of a moses basket fits much more comfortably in their bedroom. The portability of the carry handles and folding frame also make it an attractive option for parents who might travel in the first six months, and for the baby to sleep downstairs during the day.
However, many babies outgrow their moses basket by the age of 3-4 months and require a transition to a cot anyway, which can prove problematic if space is limited in your bedroom.
What to look out for in a moses basket
As with any big purchase for your firstborn, there are some key things to look out for when buying a moses basket.
If you’re buying brand new or second hand from an online marketplace, check it complies with British Standard BS EN 1466:2014, or Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Bassinets and Cradles (ASTM F2194-13) if you’re in the US. You can usually find this in a manual or online.If you’re accepting a donated moses basket, perhaps one passed down through generations of family, it certainly won’t have the latest certification, but you can still assess it against the British Standard BS EN 1466:2014 or Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Bassinets and Cradles (ASTM F2194-13) in the US to see if it’s safe.
Traditional moses baskets are typically made from either woven palm, maize, cornhusk or wicker. Palm is the cheapest option, but is considerably less durable than the others. Maize and cornhusk usually occupy the middle price range, while wicker is the most durable and expensive. If you’re buying second hand, check the basket for any fraying of the material - A lot of fraying may indicate age, wear or poor quality.
There are also more contemporary-looking designs available that are made from anti-bacterial and hypo-allergenic plastic. These should be made with a large number of small holes in each side to maximise air flow and safe sleep practices.
There is no standard sizing for moses baskets, but most mattresses tend to be either 66cm or 77cm long and 28cm wide.
Experts recommend moses baskets use a thin lining to ensure temperature regulation and air flow. You can always purchase separate lining if you feel the existing one is too thick, or perhaps too worn if you’ve bought second hand.
The vast majority of moses baskets come with a foam mattress designed to be supportive and breathable. However, there are other options such as anti-allergy or 100% natural materials. As we've already advised, if you’re buying second hand, you should always buy a new mattress. Make sure to check the sizing if you’re buying a new or separate mattress. The Lullaby Trust recommends there should be no more than 4cm between the edge of the mattress and the side of the basket itself.
Beware of mattresses made from polyurethane or ‘poly-foam’. Due to the manufacturing process, polyurethane is known to release harmful chemicals or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are dangerous to health. Some studies have linked polyurethane to an increased risk of SIDS.
Not all moses baskets come with bedding like a fitted sheet for the mattress or a blanket, and you may wish to buy new ones if you’re buying second hand anyway. Like the lining, fitted sheets should be just that...fitted. If different size mattresses are available, so are different sized sheets. They should fit snuggly around the mattress with minimal scrunching when your baby moves around.
There are a wide range of bed blankets available, which all have varying pros and cons depending on the material and thickness.
Some may come with a small pillow. These pose increased risk of SIDS and should not be used.
The carry handles should meet comfortably in the middle of the basket to allow safe movement. But you should never carry the moses basket with your baby inside.
They should always be able to fold away outside of the basket, or alternatively, some lining covers have specific holes to allow the handles to tuck away inside the basket, out of reach of your baby’s grasp.
If you’re buying second hand, be sure to check the integrity of the handles. Just like the basket itself, signs of fraying could be an indicator of wear or poor quality. Therefore, they could be a safety risk.
The 9 best moses baskets
Now you know what to look out for, we’ve compiled a list of our 9 favourite moses baskets from all types and budgets.
“Despite the possible issues with assembly, the pros more than outweigh the negatives. Air flow and temperature hit the top of the priority list for this moses basket, and the choice between a static or rocking base is genius."
The Sleepee from renowned baby brand Tommee Tippee is a contemporary style moses basket, made from 50% recycled wipe-clean plastic. To maximise air flow, the structure of the basket includes 300 small holes, while the mattress features a temperature regulated air permeable filling. The accompanying frame has a curved base which allows parents to gently rock their baby off to sleep, while the small stoppers allow for a static base.
Measurements: 84 x 42 x 42cm
"This is a well-designed, great looking bassinet. The breathable mesh siding is essential for cradles. I've found my baby with her face against the side many times while rooting for food. It's also nice to have the slight transparency when you're several feet away."
The Cradle from BABYBJÖRN is a moses basket that finds a striking balance between tradition and modern style. The removable, mesh side panels offer plenty of breathability for baby and give you a good viewpoint even from several feet away. Anchored onto two legs, the basket can be gently rocked by mum and dad, or by the movement of baby to offer a smooth, calming motion.
Measurements: 78 x 58 x 66cm
“Although it’s more expensive than most mid-range options, particularly without a frame included, it’s a beautiful classic design with a really wonderful mattress that appeals to those favour natural materials."
The Natural Knitted Moses Basket from The Little Green Sheep is a traditional-style option made from knitted palm. The included mattress is made from natural coconut fibres to create a supportive yet breathable core. It also comes with a super soft but breathable quilted liner that conforms to British safety standards.
Measurements: 84 x 44 x 28cm
"This bassinet is unbelievable! It rocks my baby to sleep and he stays asleep until the morning. It was easy to build, it fits nicely next to my bed so the baby can stay in the room with me and he’s so happy and comfortable sleeping there."
The VaVaSoo Rocking Bassinet is a highly-rated option that offers 3 in 1 functionality, swapping from a standard crib to a beside co-sleeper and a baby changing table seamlessly. The electric two-speed rocking motion helps dad and mum get baby off to sleep with a bit of help.
Material: Metal frame
Measurements: 80-103cm (H) x 95 x 58cm (including frame)
"LOVE this bassinet. It feels like my baby is in bed with me but she’s safe in her own space. Very convenient to have it on wheels too. Would definitely recommend to parents."
With nearly 8,000 five-star reviews at the time of writing, the Baby Bassinet and Bedside Sleeper from Mika Micky is one of the most popular choices available on Amazon. The easy-open side panel made co-sleeping super simple, while the mesh side panels make for a breathable environment for baby.
Material: Breathable mesh
Measurements: 91 x 55.9 x 83cm
This 2 in 1 moses basket from Delta Children offers quite a unique combination of versatility and plenty of storage. The polyester mesh basket itself is detachable from the stand, meaning it's nice and simple to move around the house, while the large, underneath storage basket gives it an extra function. A battery-operated pod offers gentle sounds and vibrations along with soothing lights.
Material: Polyester mesh
Measurements: 81 x 88 x 53cm
"As more parents become conscious about how their products are made, to see a beautiful handmade moses basket that offers much needed employment and income to people during Ghana’s dry season is hugely appealing."
Made by Ghanaian weavers, the Winneba from The Basket Room uses robust veta vera grass indgienous to northern Ghana. Hallmarks of traditional Ghanaian baby baskets, it’s design is bright and colourful with a raised hood area. The large carry handles are made from the leather by-product of the local food industry. The basket comes with a foam mattress and cotton fitted sheet, but an upgraded coconut mattress and additional cotton liner are available as extras.
Material: Veta vera grasses, leather handles
Measurements: 80x43 x25cm
"The structure of the base gives a lovely smooth gentle bounce and along with the vibrate function helps settle my little one to ensure a better night sleep is had by all. My best buy as 8 hours sleep is something we enjoy!"
The PurAir from Purflo is a contemporary bells and whistles moses basket. Its large, deep bassinet features large mesh panels at the head and foot, and combined with the 3D mesh mattress, offers a breathable and hypoallergenic environment with excellent air circulation. It also includes three hanging toys and night light attached to the hood. The large base structure includes a good-sized storage basket and offers a vibrating and gentle rocking function to help soothe your baby.
Material: Cotton with polyester mesh
Measurements: 84 x 47 x 110cm
This option from Nordmiex is ideal for parents who expect to spend plenty of timing travelling with their baby. The folding mechanism and light weight make it ideal for packing in the car and hiding away when not needed. The overhead cover can help to provide shade from the sun and protection from night time bugs for those using it on more adventurous travels.
Measurements: 78 x 43 x 25cm
Moses basket FAQs
What’s the difference between a moses basket and a bassinet?
Bassinets are attached to a legged frame or wheeled frame. Moses baskets are typically lighter, more portable and cheaper than bassinets.
Do I have to use a moses basket? Can’t they just go straight in a crib?
From a safety point of view, there’s no reason a baby can’t sleep in their crib from birth. However, experts recommend your baby sleeps in the same room as you for the first six month. And it can be quite a squeeze for parents, trying to fit a full-sized crib into their bedroom.
Babies often prefer to feel cosy and sleep much better for it, especially soon after birth, so the smaller size of the moses basket can be advantageous.
Can I get a second hand moses basket?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a second hand moses basket, or using one donated by a friend or family member. However, you should take extra care to consider the points we set out in the ‘What to look out for’ section. Older baskets passed down from generations aren’t likely to have certification for the latest safety standards, so be sure to check it thoroughly for defects.
How long should a newborn sleep in a moses basket?
There are a couple of factors to consider. Some brands may have clear weight limits to indicate when a baby should be moved out of the basket, but experts recommend transferring the baby when they show signs of being able to pull themselves up.
Generally, these factors come at around 3-4 months.
What bedding do you need for a moses basket?
You should have a fitted sheet for the mattress and, depending on the material of the basket itself, a breathable fabric liner. Blankets are more of a personal choice for the parents - some prefer a traditional blanket, whereas others prefer to swaddle their baby or use a baby sleeping bag.
Can I use a second hand mattress?
No. There is research that shows a link between second hand mattresses and SIDS. Therefore, experts always recommend buying a brand new mattress, even when using a second hand mattress.
Can I use second hand bedding?
Many experts recommend buying new fitted sheets for the mattress. But the liner and any blankets should be fine - you may just want to give them a good wash first.
Can I use a pillow?
Absolutely not. Baby sleep experts always warn against using a pillow for babies because they pose a huge suffocation risk.
Can I put the moses basket on the floor?
Yes, moses baskets are designed to work perfectly well with or without a stand. Many parents choose to use a stand for convenience - it’s far easier to pick a baby out of a basket at 3am for the 5th time that night when it’s standing a few feet off the ground. The things that are lower to the ground are typically out of our line of sight, so it does present a bit of a trip hazard, too.