The best baby swings have

  • Good battery life or electrical power. Most full-size swings give owners the option of battery or electrical power, but many travel swings are battery operational only. If small space living or cost are leading you to purchase a travel swing, choose a model that doesn't require constant battery changes.
  • Multiple speed settings. Newborn babies tend to prefer slower speeds, while older babies may enjoy a faster pace.
  • Various seat positions. For practicality, and safety, a swing should have a reclined position for rest and an upright position for play. Parents of newborns should put them into a swing in a reclined position, due to lack of neck muscle strength.
  • A five-point harness. A three-point harness is required by law on all full-size swings, but a five-point harness system, with over-the-shoulder straps, is a safer option.

Know before you go

Do you have space for a swing in your home? Full-size baby swings take up a lot of real estate in a home, so unless you have a designated spot where it can live, you may want to choose the smallest full-size model or a portable swing.

Do you want to travel with or move the swing around? In either case, a portable swing, travel swing or baby bouncer is a wise choice. Most travel swings and some baby bouncers fold nearly flat, making them easy to transport and store.

What kind of motion does baby like? Some babies prefer swinging front to back motion, while others prefer swinging from side to side. The latter is the most similar to the motion of a parent rocking baby. On the other hand, some babies dislike swinging but love vibrating in a bouncer. Pricier swings offer many or all of these options.

Are you looking for a place to soothe your baby, entertain your baby or both? If you plan on using a swing purely as a place for your baby to nap, you may not need a full array of sounds, lights, toys and other flashy entertainment features. However, if you plan on letting your baby swing while awake, you may want those things to keep his or her interest.

Have you seen your swing of choice in action? If not, ask a family member or friend if you can observe his or her baby's interaction with the swing. If possible, wait to purchase until after baby is born, so you can let your baby test out the model.

Value expectations: The dollars and cents of it

Full-size swings will cost a pretty penny, but generally are worth the extra money because of the additional features they offer. Purchasing a travel baby swing is smart if you are short on space and/or travel often with baby, but the expense of replacing batteries often will soon become a budget burden. Read reviews carefully and note when complaints of faulty motors are mentioned. Although manufacturers may send a replacement part while under warranty, it may take extended periods of time to arrive, thus causing baby to lose interest in or outgrow the swing.

Buying tactics and strategies

Safety first. Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website to ensure that the model you are interested in meets current safety standards and has not been recalled.

Compare prices. Set up email alerts for your favorite baby swing(s) to be notified when the price drops. Also, visit stores to see if there are any deals or discounts they can offer.

Use coupons. Immediately after baby is born -- possibly as soon as merchants figure out you're pregnant -- you'll be flooded with coupons from baby stores and retail websites. Use coupons in conjunction with store or online sales to increase savings.

Purchase baby gear in November. ConsumerReports.org lists November as the best month to get a bargain on baby gear, as many retailers include these products in their end-of-year sales.

Baby Swings Runners Up:

4 moms mamaRoo Est. $250

8 picks including: About.com, Amazon.com…

Fisher-Price Rainforest Bouncer Est. $65

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Fisher-Price Starlight Papasan Cradle Swing Est. $175

3 picks including: Amazon.com, Baby Bargains…

Graco SweetPeace Infant Soothing Swing Est. $180

3 picks including: Baby Bargains, Buzzillions.com…

Bright Starts Comfort & Harmony Portable Swing Est. $70

2 picks including: Amazon.com, Baby Bargains…

Fisher-Price Space Saver Swing & Seat Est. $80

1 pick including: Amazon.com, Walmart.com…

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4Moms 2014 Mamaroo Classic- Classic Black
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Fisher-Price Rainforest Bouncer
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Fisher-Price Papasan Cradle Swing, Starlight
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New: $176.99 $151.94   
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Graco Sweetpeace Infant Soothing Swing - Elefanta
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Fisher-Price Space Saver Swing and Seat, Luv U Zoo
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