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Here are some things to consider when you're shopping for a swing:
Type: Baby swings range from basic, no-frills models to technological marvels with bluetooth capability. Some models swing, some glide, and some rock. Some recline to flat, like a newborn cradle; others keep your baby sitting more upright.
Battery or plug-in: Many baby swings are driven by a battery-operated motor; you'll be going through a lot of batteries unless you find a model with a plug-in option. The motor emits a humming noise that soothes some infants but may disturb others.
Safety harness: Swings are required to have a fixed harness restraint system to prevent your baby from slipping out of the swing seat. Some have a 5-point harness, which includes over-the-shoulder straps, but most have a 3-point harness that goes between the legs and across the waist.
Size/footprint: You can opt for a smaller, more portable travel unit or a full-size swing, depending on your space and need for mobility. Full-size swings tend to be more expensive, and portables tend to be less expensive.
Speed and motion: Swings may offer multiple speeds (start at the lowest speed and vary it according to your baby's preference). Most swings rock back and forth or side to side. Some newer baby swings offer other types of motion, like up-and-down "hops" or side to side swaying that's similar to the movement in a car. There are also swings that glide back and forth like a nursery glider chair.
Sturdiness: Look for a swing with a wide, sturdy frame that's low to the ground so it won't tip over if your baby leans to one side. It's nice if it also disassembles easily for storage or travel.
Easy to clean: Drool, spit-up, and diaper overflow are common in your baby's early months, so go for a seat with a removable, washable cover.
Comfort: Some swings have seats that recline almost flat, which is good for newborns. Whatever swing you buy, check to make sure that the seat cushion is nicely padded.
Extras: Many swings come with toy bars, mobiles, and sounds and music. Some swings have a timer feature: You set the time; when the time runs out, the motion stops.
Important safety notes
- Make sure your swing is assembled properly and won't tip over. Always supervise your baby while he's in the swing, and keep the safety harness buckled.
- Never place a swing on a table or an incline.
- Don't add any padding or blankets to the swing.
- Check to be sure that any toys are securely and safely connected, because loose parts that your baby gets in his mouth could cause choking.
- Before buying a swing, check product recalls from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to make sure the model you're considering hasn't been recalled. Look for a certification seal from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association on the packaging, which means the model conforms to independent safety standards.
- Pay close attention to weight and age guidelines for the model you decide to buy.
- Never use your swing as a crib or bassinet replacement, or for overnight sleeping.
- Keep the swing seat in the lower recline position until your baby is about 4 months old and can hold her head up unassisted.