When Fisher Price brand Rock ‘n Play sleepers were recalled in April 2019, the internet went nuts with controversy – comments ran the gamut from good, to bad, to suuuuper ugly. Aside from that, the internet practically broke as parents searched frantically trying to find the best Rock ‘n Play alternatives.
I understand why. Our Rock ‘n Play sleeper saved our sanity during Jack’s newborn days. So much so, that I had 2 – one for each floor of the house!
Technically, we only had one Rock ‘n Play, because the other was a Graco brand. But they were similar products with similar features.
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He played and slept great in them both. Yes, slept (*face palm*). I will admit, Jack was several weeks old before we started using the actual Rock ‘n Play brand regularly. The Graco Lounger had a flatter cradle – which I was more comfortable putting him in as a brand new 5-pound baby – than the Rock ‘n Play’s deeper, pocket-like cradle.
Even though I felt good waiting until Jack was a bit more robust to use the Rock ‘n Play, my mom anxiety returned with a vengeance when I heard about the recall (my husband says this blog should be less “reluctant mom” and more “slightly neurotic mom.” He’s probably not wrong…).
It got even worse when Consumer Reports sent letters to major retailers in November 2019 recommending they pull all inclined sleepers from their stores, even those that hadn’t been officially recalled, that had inclines greater than 10°.
My Facebook feed lit up with questions from other anxious parents asking about good alternatives, STAT. So, I figured I’d dig into some research to figure out a few good options.
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Best Rock ‘n Play Sleeper Alternatives: Comparison Chart
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Best Rock ‘n Play Sleeper Alternatives: Reviews and Recommendations
Considering all the womb-mimicking features the Rock ‘n Play offered that made it so popular – especially the rocking motion and vibration setting – I set out to find products that replicated some of those must-have features. I also consulted parenting experts online (i.e. all the sleep-deprived mamas in my Facebook network!), to see what was working for them.
Truth be told, I was pretty brutal in my decision about what to include and, most importantly, what to exclude. Some great and highly-rated sleepers had features I wasn’t super excited about (like cloth surrounds that were just too similar to crib bumpers for my liking), and some just didn’t have enough consumer reviews for me to feel comfortable recommending.
So, even after several weeks of research, the list came up pretty short! But, honestly, what I found kinda makes me wish Jack were an infant again, so I could have an excuse to purchase one (errrr… all?) of these Rock ‘n Play alternatives. See below for details on the products I recommend.
Graco DuoGlider Sleeper
This has all the features of a Rock ‘n Play, plus several, several more. It’s both a rocker and a bassinet, y’all!
It has 2 positions – it lays flat for baby to sleep, and folds slightly to become a lounger when baby is awake (the operative phrase when talking about the lounger setting is “when baby is awake.” Remember, the AAP recalled Rock ‘n Plays because the incline was dangerous for sleeping infants).
Graco’s DuoGlider rocks just like a Rock ‘n Play (battery-powered, so you don’t have to manually do it) in both the flat and reclined positions, and adjusts easily between the two.
Customer reviews say it all. Folks on multiple review sites say it’s the best of both worlds, in terms of a rocker and a sleeper. This is something I’d be comfortable letting my newborn lounge in while playing, and lay flat in while sleeping.
It comes in two colors, Rascal and Percy (what… you don’t know what those colors are? That makes two of us!).
Rascal is grey and off-white with a woodland-animal pattern and plush bunny mobile; Percy is grey and off-white with an owls-and-trees pattern and plush owl mobile. So, essentially, Rascal = bunnies and Percy = owls. (No idea where they come up with this stuff!)
SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet
If you know me, you know how big a fan I am of Dr. Harvey Karp. We swear by his 5 S method for soothing a newborn, and recommend his books and videos to any expecting parents who ask. So I feel very confident recommending a sleeper designed by this pediatrician – in fact, the only sleeper on the market designed by an actual doctor!
Let me be the first to acknowledge that this sleeper will give you sticker shock. It’s soooooo damn pricey. But that doesn’t deter folks from giving average 4.5 star reviews. That said, I’ve seen them for sale second-hand for about half the retail price, if you’re okay not being the first owner.
Not only is it safe, it’s reported to increase newborn sleep by 1-2 hours, and the price includes all the extras to make that happen. A mattress, mattress cover, sheet and 3 sleep sacks are included in the purchase.
The SNOO has both a noise and a vibration setting, each which are intuitive. They increase or decrease depending on baby’s fussiness level – yes, it’s truly a “smart” sleeper. The settings can also be programmed to gradually decrease as baby gets older, to assist the transition from bassinet to crib.
The most unique feature of the SNOO is the swaddle that keeps baby firmly on his back – there’s virtually zero danger of baby rolling his body into an unsafe position!
HALO BassiNest Swivel Sleeper
If we’re less interested in playing and more interested in sleeping (which is really why we loved the Rock ‘n Play, amirite?), another flat sleep-specific alternative is the HALO BassiNest Swivel Sleeper.
The swivel feature allows you to easily turn the bassinet on its base. Swing it toward you to tend to baby, pull it up to your bed longways, or turn shortways it if you want a bit more room beside the bed. Then push it away so it doesn’t present an obstacle when you want to pop out of bed!
It checks all the boxes in terms of being light and easy to assemble. Best is the safety feature of 360° mesh side panels. The added features of vibration and sound to help mimic the womb and soothe baby. With consistent 4-star ratings across multiple review sites, it’s a solid alternative to the Rock ‘n Play.
KoolaBaby 3 in 1 Bassinet, Sleeper, Playpen
For those who want every configuration transition option imaginable, I give you the KoolaBaby 3 in 1. It’s a bassinet, bedside sleeper, and playpen, y’all!
In bassinet mode, you can pull it up to your bed longways and lower the side so there’s nothing between you and baby (just be sure to fasten it tightly to the bed with the included straps so there isn’t a gap). It’s like co-sleeping… but not. Then, if you want your sleeping baby contained, lift the side and it becomes a sleeper with 360° of mesh sides.
But the coolest feature is that it converts to a playpen. Just drop the bottom down, and voila! Ain’t no escaping now!
It’s got built-in wheels with brakes, so can be easily pushed around the room, down the hall, whatever. Super portable.
And speaking of portable, if you travel and find pack-and-plays a bit big, this could be a great fit. It takes up far less space when set-up. And it comes with a carrying case with handles you can throw over your shoulder and carry like a purse (a large purse, but still… a purse!).
To give the bassinet all these extras, it seems that sound and vibration had to be sacrificed. That doesn’t seem to bother most parents, though, as the KoolaBaby has ratings well above 4.5 stars.
And that’s that! As I continue my digging and see other models that fit the bill, I’ll add them. But for now, these are the options I’d feel good purchasing for my family. Good luck!
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