Babies love gentle rocking movements. Perhaps it reminds them of their time in the womb. Maybe they just enjoy the warmth and protection of being cuddled and rocked at the same time. Gentle swinging back and forth is comforting and easily lulls most babies off to sleep. At the very least, it will calm a cranky baby. You can't stand and rock your baby for more than an hour without succumbing to exhaustion. Baby swings keep your baby happily swinging so you don't have to.
Baby swings are simple A-frame indoor swings, available in the old wind-up style or the updated battery-powered version. The old wind up baby swings were very loud when winding. If the swing stopped before their baby was asleep, most parents dreaded turning the crank—the noise would easily wake up their baby completely.
Choosing a battery-powered swing or a wind-up swing is a matter of personal choice. Many parents are grateful for the battery-powered baby swings because they are easy to use and quiet. Most battery-powered baby swings offer multiple speed settings, a timer with multiple settings for automatic shut off, and a selection of music to play for your baby when swinging. Batteries don't last forever, but the average battery-powered swing offers 200 hours of swinging time on 4 alkaline "D" cell batteries.
Many baby swings are equipped with a contoured seat with multiple recline settings, a padded cloth seat cushion, a detachable headrest, and a soft covered mobile to entertain your baby. Most baby swings fold for easy storage when not in use.
Some babies like to be rocked slowly, while colicky babies may prefer a faster speed. Your baby's preference may change based on their mood. A baby swing with multiple speed settings can keep you covered fast or slow. Your baby may change their mind from day to day when it comes to music. Look for a swing that offers volume control so you can turn the music up or down based on your baby's mood. The ability to turn the music off completely is also a nice feature—sometimes babies just want peace and quiet.
Small babies can not hold their head up and end up slouching forward in the swing. Look for a swing that has at least two recline positions so you can choose the best position for your baby. The recline-feature should allow your baby to lie back far enough to avoid slouching.
A flip-out or fold-up tray is a must-have feature on a baby swing. Most swings do not lock in place, so a tray that moves out of your way makes it easier to put your baby in the swing. It also makes it easier to gently remove your sleeping baby from the swing without waking them, scraping their legs, or trying to prevent the tray from falling before your baby is free and clear.
Look for an open-top swing. This is the single most cherished feature on new baby swings. An open top swing makes it easier to place your baby in and lift your baby out of the swing. Older wind-up swings had a bar above the swing. Just about every baby has hit their head on the swing's upper bar when going in or getting out of the swing. The open-top baby swings eliminate the chance of hitting your baby's head altogether because there is no bar! This alone is worth the extra batteries.
Your baby's safety is your first priority, so make sure your baby swing has a wide base. You want it to be sturdy and not tip over if your baby leans over to one side to get a look at the floor.
Make sure your swing has a safety belt system. Just like your car seat, a 3-point or 5-point harness system is safest in baby swings. The hip straps reduce the chance that your baby will slide out of the swing. Shoulder straps offer extra security.