Best Cradles

Updated July 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

24 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
465 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best cradles

Last Updated July 2019

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.

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.

Contemporary cradle

This contemporary pod-style cradle might not have that classic cradle look, but it's modern and highly practical. The basket rocks while the base stays still, making it a stable option. The breathable mesh sides allow ample airflow. Thanks to its lightweight design, it's easy to move between rooms so you can keep an eye on your baby while they nap wherever you are in the house.

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.

Features

Color

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.

Style

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.

CAUTION

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

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

Expensive: 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.

EXPERT TIP

Some cradles include a hood or a canopy, but they're far less common on cradles than they are on bassinets.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If you need to buy a mattress for your cradle, make sure it fits exactly. Even a small gap could be unsafe for your baby.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • 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.

Timeless classic

Simple, classic, and affordable — the Dream On Me Rocking Cradle is a great choice if you want a basic cradle to last your baby the first few months of their life and don't want to spend too much on it. With five color choices, you should find something to fit all types of decor. A slumber pad is included, but we'd recommend purchasing a mattress, too. 

Other products we considered

You've seen our top five cradles, but there are plenty more great choices out there. Any of the following would make an excellent alternative for your infant. With its upholstered head and foot and solid wood construction, Orbelle Lola Cradle is a high-end choice with a traditional appearance. The anti-rock pin lets you stop the cradle from rocking when desired. Dream On Me Luna Cradle is a simple, contemporary-looking cradle available in three color choices. The reasonable price tag makes it an even more attractive option. Another excellent model is Now and Forever Baby Cradle, which is slightly larger and deeper than the majority of cradles. This increases the amount of time you can use it, but it is slightly more difficult to reach in and lift your baby out.

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.

FAQ

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).

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Lauren
    Lauren
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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