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- As the parent of a newborn, I was naturally terrified of the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. It can happen to anyone and there is no explanation for it, but one of the factors that could play a role is how a baby sleeps.
- According to the American SIDS Institute, babies should sleep on their backs in their own crib, never in your bed. You should talk to your pediatrician if you have questions about safe sleep for your infant.
- With our newborn, my husband and I used the HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essentia Series ($209.99) and thought it was ideal for our needs and budget. It was easy to set up and use, and made being woken up throughout the night less stressful.
- While using this bassinet for our newborn baby, I also slept well knowing I was right next to her while she was on her own safe sleep surface.
Before I gave birth to Isabelle (or Ellie), I knew that I was going to do everything I could to give her a safe sleeping environment — I was terrified about the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, SIDS.
The safe sleep guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) state that infants should sleep on their backs on a firm, flat sleeping surface. While indeed safe, this doesn’t sound very comfortable, especially for a baby who’s used to being warm and cozy in the womb. Many babies sleep better when they can snuggle up next to their mom, and Ellie was no exception.
Like many moms, my labor and delivery didn’t go as planned, and I ended up with an unplanned C-section and lots of complications. It was extremely hard and painful for me to get up from a lying or sitting position for the first couple weeks.
Enter the HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essentia Series ($209.99), which made all the times Ellie woke us in the middle of the night slightly less stressful. For us, it’s not a far stretch to say the bassinet was the next best thing to co-sleeping.
That being said, if you have any questions about safe sleep and care for your baby, talk to your pediatrician. These are but one set of parents’ experiences with this bassinet.
Designed for sleep deprived parents
This HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essentia is truly designed with sleep deprived parents in mind.
We have the $209.99 Essentia, but there’s also the Premiere, Luxe, and Luxe Plus, all of which have upgraded features like audio and vibrations, reminders, and even sheet sets, but the basic structure and safety functions are the same across the board.
The Essentia has a sturdy 4-point base that slides easily under the bed so you can pull the bassinet portion right next to you. Ellie was so close that I didn’t have to get out of bed at all to take care of her, and I felt such a sense of peace having her right next to me. With just a mesh wall between us and Ellie, my husband and I got the benefits of co-sleeping without the risks. Even before she could roll, Ellie would often scoot her way to the side to get as close to me as possible.
Another thing I loved was that we didn’t have to bend all the way down to set her in the bassinet — and if you’ve ever transferred a sleeping baby from your arms to their bed, you’ll know that one wrong move can blow the whole operation. My husband got a death glare any time he accidentally woke her up during a transfer.
If you need to get out of bed, the handy 360-degree swivel makes it easy to shift the bassinet without waking up the baby. The legs don’t have wheels on them so you can’t roll the unit away, but you can swivel it and create space to move around.
The side wall that faces the bed also lowers with the pressure of your arms and then pops back up on its own. This feature makes it easy to reach in and pick up your baby right from your bed. I loved this because it never took me more than a few seconds to get to Ellie when she was crying, and I didn’t have to bend down a lot to pick her up either.
The mattress itself is comfortable yet firm, helping your baby to sleep safely — Ellie even managed to sleep 10 hours straight one time. The Essentia also has a side pocket to store diapers, wipes, and other nighttime essentials so everything is within reach and parents don’t need to go to their baby changing station for supplies.
The Luxe and Premiere series bassinets also come features like a nightlight, soothing audio and vibrations to lull your baby to sleep, and a "back to bed" reminder that reminds parents to put your baby back into the bassinet. We actually didn’t have these features on our Essentia model, but they would have given me even more peace of mind in those early weeks with Ellie.
When you’re not sleeping well and (in my case) also recovering from surgery, your mind just isn’t clear. I once woke to my husband burping a pillow in the middle of the night, and I often woke up in a panic searching for Ellie in our bed, only to find her perfectly safe in her bassinet. Any extra safety measure is huge when your mind isn’t functioning properly.
Set up and use
We set up the bassinet before Ellie was born so our dog could get used to it and it would be ready to go as soon as we got home from the hospital.
It was easy to set up though it is relatively heavy at almost 30 pounds, which I was actually happy about because it reassured me of its durability. We have a 90-pound German Shepherd and he never even came close to knocking it over.
The process to set up the bassinet was pretty straightforward as the instructions are clear and the pieces of the bassinet are clearly labeled or just quite easy to see where they’d go visually. The only items not provided are the Phillips screwdriver to secure the legs and batteries if you get one of the upgraded models.
Whether you’re pregnant or recovering from childbirth when you set it up, you’ll likely need some help because of the weight and unless you’re setting this up on a large table, you might also need to bend over to secure the bassinet to the base.
Note that the base needs a minimum of 45 inches between the bed and the wall, which makes this bassinet a good option for small rooms. I didn’t find the bassinet to be bulky at all; some others on the market take up much more space.
What sets the HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper apart
For me, the absolute standout feature of this bassinet is the swivel function as true co-sleeper bassinets have not been proven to be safe by the AAP. There are some concerns that babies can get stuck between the bassinet and the bed as well as making their way completely into the bed itself. Completely separate bassinets are safer, but I don’t think that they’re as convenient for parents and don’t provide the same feeling of warmth and closeness that babies can get with the HALO Swivel Sleeper.
And speaking of closeness, I also loved that the bassinet had mesh siding. Ellie really loved to press her head and face against the side of the bassinet, and with the breathable mesh siding, I never worried that she would suffocate. After you’ve been cramped up in the womb for nine months, it must feel so strange and scary to suddenly sleep all by yourself in an open space. Pushing her head against the side was familiar and comforting to her.
Cons to consider
Honestly, the biggest downside is that Ellie eventually grew out of the bassinet.
The weight limit is 20 pounds, which could easily accommodate a baby until they’re able to start pulling up onto the sides which, if you’ll remember, lower and rise whenever there’s weight on it. But we had to transition Ellie out of the bassinet because she was getting too long when she was around two- or three-months-old.
As much as I stressed about always maintaining a safe sleep environment, I definitely pushed the limits of using the HALO for as long as possible. If it were up to me, I would have kept using it long beyond the manufacturer’s recommendation, but my husband put his foot down when it became clear that Ellie was just too big; it really isn’t a safe or wise thing to do as a parent. I definitely shed a few tears because the bassinet made night wakings easier and more convenient — though how convenient can being woken up four times a night really be?
It was also the first sign that my beautiful baby was already starting to grow up and live her life a little bit further away from me.
The bottom line
If you’re looking for a thoughtful sleep product that will help your bundle of joy stay safe and sleep well, consider the HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essentia Series. At $210, it’s a reasonable investment into your child’s safety.
There is a lot of gear that goes with having a newborn, so if you’re strapped for cash, the Essentia is ideal and doesn’t skimp out on any safety features. If you want to splurge for the extra features like vibration and "back to sleep" reminder, you’ll want to look at the Premiere ($264.99) or Luxe ($299.99).
There are plenty of other safe sleep options on the market with even more upgraded and innovative features, though I obviously haven’t tried them. One that many parents swear by is the SNOO, which comes with innovative features like an app and an algorithm that can distinguish between different baby cries. It also comes with a hefty price tag.
But if you choose to go with the HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essentia, in my experience, you won’t be disappointed — you might actually get some more sleep.
Pros: Flat and firm sleep surface, 360-degree swivel makes it easy to get out of bed, mesh sides lower with weight, slides over beds easily, takes up little space
Cons: Babies can outgrow it quickly
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