Baby Swings

Archived Responses: 

What features are good for a swing?

July 2001

Seems like this item is one of those must-haves. What kind did your child like? Is there a feature set that seems important? Thanks.

My friends gave me their old baby swing (circa 1995) and it helped me keep my sanity during those first months!!! My daughter would nap in it and it would lull her to sleep on difficult nights (e.g., after I'd been rocking her for two hours). It was a simple battery-operated Graco model with only one speed, but that's all we needed! (I only used one set of batteries the whole time Jenne
Just one note of caution before you assume that this is a must have item and run out and buy one. My child thought the baby swing was interesting, but only for about five minutes and only if I was entertaining her at the same time (luckily, I had borrowed the swing we used). So, if you want to have a baby swing so you can put your baby in it while you cook or do other things (in the same room, of course) or to prepare your baby for sleep,you might want to borrow a swing first to see if your baby takes to it. For us, the swing was just a big space waster. Stephanie
We have a Graco Swing N' Meals. I hated the idea of getting a big bulky piece of baby furniture that would only be used for a short while but this one also converts to a highchair and the conversion really isn't hard to do. It also can be a booster seat when baby is ready to sit at the table. So I feel really good about this investment. We got the swing because our at the time two month old would no stay asleep when put down. The first time I put her in the swing she slept for two hours and she was a happy baby and I was a happy mommy. Life has been great since then. While she takes her in the swing nap I can rest, clean, cook, organize and now that's its summer spend that time with my older daughter. Overall, a wonderful purchase and worth the money. I got it at Toys R Us. Liza
With Baby Number One, quite a few years ago in the days of wind-up swings with front-entry only, our swing was the only thing that kept our collicky baby quiet long enough for us to eat dinner. It was the single most important baby accessory for the first 6 months of that baby's life. You will sometimes hear parents say You definitely need a baby swing. I am one of those - without that swing our lives for the first 6 months would have been colic inferno.

Baby Number Three is 7 months oldnow, and is much more mellow, but we have really used our baby swing a lot with this one too, from the time he was a few weeks old. Sometimes he swings so mommy and daddy can cook dinner or do laundry, and sometimes he takes his nap in the swing. I think it is really useful.

I can't recommend any specific brand but I do have some specific recommendations about what to look for in a swing.

I recommend not getting the high-end swings with all the bells and whistles. They can be hard to operate because of all the different modes and settings, 90% of which you will never use. Personally, I just want to put the baby in and turn it on, and not have to press button one three times and turn switch two to the left to make it go. Our low-end swing has two speeds only - fast and slow. We really only used one speed - fast.

Most swings nowadays probably are battery operated. This is a big improvement over the old days when you had to run back over there every few minutes to wind it up again, praying that the baby wouldn't wake up during the process. Also I think most of the new ones don't have a bar across the top, so you can slide baby in and out easily. It is 100 times easier to get the baby in and out of a top-loading swing than the front-loading ones, so look for that too. If the front tray swings open easily, that's even better. (Note: some friends of ours didn't realize the front tray on theirs would open, and they spent 6 months wedging that baby in and out behind the tray until one day we visited and they watched us take our baby out the easy way. Just goes to show you - read the manual if you have one, or if it's a second hand swing, spend a few minutes examining the underneath and back of the swing to make sure you know how it works!)

Some of the fancy swings play music or vibrate. You probably will never use this - the swinging action is the point of having a swing and the other stuff is just fluff. I would recommend getting one that has a seat that reclines all the way back so baby can sleep without pitching forward. (Again, READ THE MANUAL! Or if you have a used one, look behind the back of the seat and figure out how far it will go back - some other friends of ours never used their swing because they didn't realize the seat would recline!)

The swings with the tray on the front with little toys and things are in my opinion pretty useless. In our case, by the time our baby was big enough to reach out and grab a toy, he was too big for the swing.

If you have a choice in the matter, you also might want to consider the swing's appearance. It's big and cumbersome and is going to be a major feature of your living room for a chunk of time - can you stand looking at it day in and day out 24 x 7? I couldn't deal with bright happy pastels and Winnie or Micky greeting me every morning over coffee so I was happy when I found a boring navy blue plaid.

All in all I would say: battery operated is good, reclining seat is good, top loading is good. But other options don't matter that much -- the simpler, the better. Also I recommend borrowing one, or buying a used one, because really there are only a few months when you'll use it. Ginger