Moses baskets, made from woven material, have great visual appeal. Named for the type of basket Moses' mother might have put him in to float down the river, these baskets are similar to a bassinet but often feature a handle for carrying. You can safely put your baby into a Moses basket only if you take certain precautions while using it and only if you're watching your baby at all times. ConsumerReports.org strongly recommends against using them at all.
All infants should sleep only on their backs on a firm surface; the American Academy of Pediatrics states that this position reduces the risk of crib death by more than 50 percent. Soft bedding poses a serious suffocation risk for young babies. If you use a Moses basket, place a firm mattress, not soft blankets, on the bottom to support your baby. The mattress must fit tightly to the sides. Because they're made from woven material, the sides of Moses baskets have more "give" than harder material. If you can fit two fingers between the mattress and the side of the basket, it's too loose and poses a suffocation threat, according to the National Safety Council. Infants don't need and shouldn't use pillows; a warm sleeper is safer than blankets in the basket.
The material used to make Moses baskets won't hold up to the weight of an older infant. Your basket's manufacturer should state a specific weight limit, which might be as low as 15 pounds. Putting a heavier baby in the basket could weaken the material, breaking it. If you're carrying your baby in the basket, he could fall through to the floor. Stop using the basket when your baby reaches the weight limit, rolls over or turns 4 months old.
It's tempting to put the Moses basket on a table or countertop so you can keep your baby away from pets or other children. But this is an unsafe practice. If your baby moves, he could roll the basket off the surface and onto the floor or roll out of the basket, so it's best to keep the basket on the floor. Moses baskets don't come with seat belts, so carrying your baby in one increases the risk of falls. A 2001 BBC News article noted that the basket handles were often too short, making it difficult for a parent to carry without dropping it. A weakened handle could also break, causing the basket to fall to the floor. Never carry the baby in the basket; if you move from room to room, carry the basket and baby separately.
Don't use a Moses basket as a nighttime sleep environment for your baby, since you won't be able to keep an eye on him at all times. Never put a Moses basket inside the crib for nighttime sleeping; your baby could roll out of the basket and suffocate in bedding in the crib. Loose bedding and suffocation causes two-thirds of crib deaths in bassinets each year, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.