A baby swing is a wonderful way to soothe a fussy baby or hold an infant while mom or dad sneaks a quick shower. Before you buy a baby swing, check out this list of handy must-have features that will make your baby swing more useful for you and baby.
Stability & Safety FirstBaby's safety is the top priority, so check all swings to be sure they have a wide base and a low center of gravity so they won't tip over if baby manages to lean in one direction. Just like in car seats, a seat belt is necessary and a 5-point harness is best. Newborns are particularly good at curling up and slipping around inadequate seat belt systems, so the hip straps are important even for babies who don't seem to wiggle a lot.
Battery Vs. Wind-UpWhether you choose a battery-powered swing or a wind-up variety depends on your personal tastes. Battery swings may add cost to the swing over time since the batteries need to be replaced, maybe frequently. However, battery swings eliminate the need to keep re-winding the swing, and are more convenient to operate. Wind-up swings can be noisy during winding, and won't allow you to get a very long nap before re-winding time. Battery swings also tend to feature more speeds and music settings to meet baby's preferences.
Variable Speed & SoundSome babies want to be rocked to sleep slowly, while colicky babies may like a more forceful rocking speed. To give your baby plenty of options, choose a swing that has a few different speeds, or maybe a different rocking pattern, such as side to side rocking. Your baby may also have strong preferences on music, so look for swings that play music at different volumes and various musical styles, and that have the ability to operate with no music at all. Some babies just want peace and quiet! You should listen to the music first, too, and make sure you can handle hearing it over and over again.
ReclineSmall babies will not be able to hold their head up or avoid slouching forward in an upright swing, so be sure your baby swing has, at a minimum, a newborn recline position and an upright position for older babies. The newborn recline allows baby to lay back far enough to avoid slouching and restricting breathing. The recline feature is also handy when older babies fall asleep in the swing. Make sure you can easily reach the recline mechanism and change the seat position, because you will likely do this while baby is in the swing.
Open Top & Flip-Out TrayA flip-out or fold-up tray is a must-have feature on a swing, so that a sleeping baby can be gently removed from the swing without trouble. These trays are also much more convenient for parents and lessen the chance of scraping baby's legs while trying to get them in or out of the swing. An open top swing makes it easier to lift baby out of the swing without the chance of hitting their head on the swing's upper bar.
Top Guide Picks
Graco's classic baby swings have been popular for many years. They offer a number of styles for their open-top swing, and any of them would be a solid choice. Graco's SweetPeace Swing is a cool option, too, with a side to side motion that mimics a parent's swaying. Fisher Price also has some fun updates to the traditional baby swing, including lots of fun themes such as rainforest creatures. Fisher Price has baby swings that move side to side in a cradle motion for extra soothing, too. The cushy seat and graceful canopy of the Starlight Papasan Cradle Swing make it a popular choice for parents and baby alike.