Updated May 2022
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best cradles

Babies should sleep in the same room as a parent or caregiver for the first six months of their lives, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), but fitting a full-sized crib in your room isn't always practical. A cradle is an excellent alternative for your little one. Halfway between a crib and a bassinet, a cradle takes up about half the space of a crib but is slightly larger than a bassinet and therefore lasts your baby a little longer before they need a larger bed. The other factor that sets cradles apart from bassinets is their gentle rocking motion, which can help soothe babies to sleep.

When purchasing a cradle, you need to decide between a classic cradle and a contemporary pod style. You also need to think about construction materials, the rocker, and the style and appearance of the cradle. We've put together this detailed guide to teach you more, plus we've listed our five favorite cradles on the market.

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Avoid any cradle that rocks too deeply — current safety standards should prevent this, but if a cradle rocks deeply enough to roll your baby over, it's not safe to use.

Key considerations

Classic cradles vs. pod cradles

Classic cradles tend to look similar to wooden cribs, but on a smaller scale. They have wooden or wood-effect slats on two or four sides and stand on long legs with rockers at the bottom. Pod cradles look more like contemporary bassinets. The mattress sits within a fabric pod which is made from a mesh material or has mesh inserts, so you can easily peek in at your baby. The difference is mainly aesthetic, though pod cradles tend to be lighter and more portable.

Mattress and bedding

Hopefully your chosen cradle has a mattress included. It's vital that the mattress fits the cradle exactly with no gaps in which your baby could get caught. Since there's no universal size for a cradle it can be hard to find a mattress that fits properly if one isn't included. Unlike bassinets, cradles don't usually include bedding as part of the package, so find a mattress sheet that fits correctly.

Rocker type

The majority of cradles have traditional rockers at the bottom of the legs, but some feature an alternative mechanism near the basket, allowing it to be rocked or swayed gently. Some cradles rock back to front, while others rock side to side. Ultimately, any rocker type does the same job, so which one you choose isn't hugely important unless your baby has a preference for a particular direction of motion to lull them to sleep.



The color of your chosen cradle won't affect how it works, but it's nice to choose one that goes with your room's decor. If choosing a classic cradle, there are stained or painted wood or laminate/wood veneer options. If you like the look of stained wood, choose a shade that matches other wooden furniture in your room, otherwise it may look out of place. Pod cradles generally give you a handful of color options for both the frame and the fabric pod. Many people prefer to choose neutral colors, either to avoid buying a "gendered" color or to fit with a range of colors.


Would you prefer a contemporary looking cradle or one that wouldn't appear out of place in a nursery from 200 years ago? Whatever your style preferences, you should be able to find a cradle that fits the bill.

Rocking options

Consider what kinds of rocking options your chosen cradle offers. Does it simply rock back to front or side to side, can you change the direction of rocking, or switch between rocking and gliding? A greater number of rocking options gives you more ways to soothe a fussy baby, but you may find you only need one kind of rocking motion to get the job done. Check whether or not you're able to turn the rocking motion off, as you may find your baby doesn't enjoy the rocking, or you might want the option to disable it once your baby starts moving more independently.

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Never put toys, pillows, or any other loose items in a cradle with your baby. Anything of this nature can pose a suffocation hazard.

Cradle prices


If you're happy with a basic cradle, you can find some simple yet solid options starting at $80 to $100. These are generally made from plywood and feature little embellishment or extra features.


Mid-range cradles cost between $100 and $200 and include some solid wood cradles and basic pod cradles.


High-end cradles are priced between $200 and $400. For this price, expect to get a premium solid wood cradle which may be ornate, or a top-of-the-line pod cradle.


  • Check that any cradle you buy meets or exceeds relevant safety standards. Luckily, all cradles made after 2011 are required by law to meet U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards. Avoid buying or using cradles manufactured before this date.
  • Find out the height of your chosen cradle. Cradles that are too low or too high can make it awkward to put your baby down or pick them up, especially for mothers who've undergone C-section deliveries.
  • Choose between solid wood and plywood. If opting for a classic cradle, it’s either made from solid wood or plywood coated with laminate or veneer. Solid wood is more durable but also more expensive.
  • Think about how much use you'll get from your cradle. If this baby is likely to be your last (or only), you'll only get a few months use out of a cradle, so spending hundreds of dollars may feel excessive.
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Some cradles are easily portable for use in different rooms in the house, but others are heavy and bulky enough that they're best left stationary.


Q. How safe are cradles for babies to sleep in?

A. A modern baby cradle that meets JPMA and CPSC standards is just as safe for your infant to sleep in as a bassinet or a full-sized crib. However, you should still follow AAP safe sleep recommendations, including always laying your baby to sleep on their back, using a firm mattress with fitted sheet of the correct size, and avoiding putting your baby to sleep with any loose bedding or soft objects.

Q. Are cradles difficult to assemble?

A. If you feel relatively confident about assembling flat pack furniture, you shouldn't have any trouble putting together a cradle. Pod cradles tend to require far less assembly than traditional cradles, so they're ideal for the DIY-averse.

Q. How will I know when my baby has outgrown their cradle?

A. Your baby needs to move from a cradle to a crib once they’ve learned to roll over independently or once they’re physically too large to fit comfortably inside (but the former usually comes first).

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