The best Baby Swing has
- 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-only. If space or budget considerations are leading you to purchase a travel swing, choose a model that doesn't require constant battery changes.
- Multiple speed settings. For the smallest babies, you'll want to keep things slow. However, while a swing's highest settings may seem far too fast for a newborn, they're essential to move and soothe older, heavier babies who still enjoy swinging.
- 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 use the reclined position since smaller babies lack neck muscle strength to keep their heads from slumping.
- 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, especially as babies become older and squirmier. Three-point harnesses may be acceptable on models that are lower to the ground, but will require closer supervision.
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 or a model that has some sort of removable rocker or bouncer might be a good choice. Most portable swings fold nearly flat, making them easy to transport and store. While full-size swings may also fold, make sure you see whether they do so compactly if storage is a consideration.
What kind of motion does baby like? Some babies prefer swinging front to back, while others prefer side to side. On the other hand, some babies dislike swinging but love seats with vibrating options. Some swings offer many or all of these options, but they're likely to be more expensive than basic models.
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. In fact, some parents say they're too distracting for some babies to fall asleep. However, if you plan on letting your baby swing while awake, you may want those things to keep his or her interest.
Don't use your baby swing as a surrogate crib. While swings can be useful for lulling babies to sleep, experts don't recommend letting them nap or sit there for more than an hour or so. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics even recommends moving a snoozing baby from the swing to a firmer sleep surface. All experts reiterate that parents should never leave their babies in swings unattended and advise against overnight use.
Value expectations: The dollars and cents of it
Swings are like magic for some babies, but others simply don't take to them. Before spending a good chunk of change to sacrifice an entire corner of your home to a baby swing, it might be worth considering buying or borrowing a used swing. Even babies who love swings rarely use them longer than six months, meaning many used swings are still in good shape. If you do decide to buy used, look for more recent models. Inspect all fabric for stains and be sure to test every aspect – swing motions, sounds, vibrations and any other features – before buying. Also, be sure to check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website to ensure that the model you're interested in meets current safety standards and has not been recalled.