Baby Swings — Keep on Swinging, Baby!
A baby swing is a great way to both entertain and comfort your baby, and they can be a great way to give parents a much needed break. Choosing the a good and fun baby swing is pretty easy, unlike some other baby items like car seats or strollers. Here is a handy guide I’ve written for parents to help them find a baby swing for their little one.
Some Features to Look For
As with any other baby product, safety should be your number one priority when choosing a baby swing. Features to look for include a wide base and low center of gravity which will keep the swing upright and prevent it from tipping over. Having said that, you don’t want a swing that has legs that protrude too far out, as that will only make for a tripping obstacle for everyone else in the house.
A restraint is also a must-have in a baby swing, and a 5-point harness is optimal, much like in a car seat. Especially for newborns, a hip restraint is a good idea; this will keep your baby from slipping around inside the swing.
Pay attention to the baby swing manufacturer’s recommended weight limits, along with how long you intend to have your baby use the swing. It’s very important that you don’t let your baby use a swing that he or she exceeds the weight limit of, as this can lead to the swing moving around the floor, which is a safety hazard.
To find the safest and reliable baby swing, look for one that has Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification. This means that the swing has passed federal safety standards.
Warning: You should never leave your baby unattended while they’re in their swing. Although there should never be a problem, accidents do happen and you should always have an eye on them while they’re using their swing.
Battery-powered vs. wind-up swings: which should I choose?
You have a choice between going for a battery-operated baby swing or a swing that winds up, and both have their pros and cons.
- Simplicity — If your baby really likes the swing, constantly cranking up a wind-up swing can get tiring. A battery-powered swing is a lot easier to use; you simply power it on and it works. You can expect a wind-up swing to run for around 30 minutes on a single winding.
- Price — Wind-up baby swings are generally less expensive than the battery-powered variety. If you opt for a battery-powered swing you should consider a model that includes a rechargeable battery — this will save you money in the long run.
- Noise — Wind-up swings tend to be noisy when cranking them up, which might wake your baby if he or she is sleeping.
- Options & features — Battery-powered swings tend to have more features, speed and music settings than wind-up swings.
Another positive aspect of a wind-up baby swing is that they require more attention on the part of the parent. Since the swing will eventually slow and and stop, it requires more constant attention. Just weigh the pros and cons of each, and it should be pretty easy for you to decide on which best meets your preferences in a baby swing.
Other features and options to consider…
Outside of safety features and the option of a battery-powered or wind-up swing, there are a lot of other factors you will want to consider while you’re shopping for a baby swing.
- Variable speed & controls — Do you want a swing that has speed controls? Certain swings have different speed settings; this goes for both wind-up and battery-powered models. Having the option of choosing between different speeds can be a great boon; a very low speed setting can provide a nice, comforting and gentle rocking motion. Some baby swings also have variable rocking patterns — for example, side-to-side rocking as opposed to the standard forward-and-back.
- Recline positions — Different baby swings come with different reclining positions; some models have more options than others. The ideal baby swing for you might be one that has a number of recline positions, as this will allow you to adjust the seat to best fit your baby as he or she grows. A newborn cannot hold their head up, so a reclining seat is vital, as one example. Older children might prefer a seat that is straight.
- Seat padding & removable cover/seat — Look for a baby swing that has a nicely-padded seat; this will make it more comfortable to your baby. You’ll probably want removable seat covers, too — spills and messes can happen, and being able to hand or machine wash the cover is a must have. Some baby swings even allow you to remove the seat altogether, which can be nice for cleaning as well.
- Music — Some baby swings come with the option to play music for your baby as they use it, and some babies really like this. If you want a baby swing that plays music, you’ll probably want to choose one that has a variety of music to choose from. Although music can be calming and soothing to your baby, you don’t want to drive yourself crazy by hearing the same music over and over.
- Open top & flip/fold-out tray — A flip-out or fold-out tray is definitely something that you’ll probably really appreciate. This allows you to remove your sleeping baby from the swing gently and without waking them, and I don’t think I need to explain why that’s a great thing. It also makes it much easier to prevent your baby from scraping their legs on the swing.
- Canopy — Will you be letting your baby use the swing outdoors? If so, you’ll probably want a swing that has a canopy to shield your baby from the sun. Babies have delicate skin that burns easily, and extra care should always be made to protect them from the sun when they’re outside.
- Built-in toys — Some baby swings come with built-in toys that can be fun and entertaining to your baby. On the downside, these can sometimes make it more difficult to get your baby in and out of the swing, especially if they’re asleep.
Where should I buy my baby swing?
I would strongly recommend not buying a used swing. Older baby swings might have an inadequate restraint system, broken or worn out parts, or other issues which may put your baby at risk of injury. Generally, you’ll get a better price on baby swings (and most other baby gear) by shopping online as opposed to a retail store.