Baby swings are a convenient way to soothe or entertain a baby. They come in a wide range of styles, from small, portable swings to elaborate swings that rock in all directions. The rhythmic, back-and-forth motion of a swing calms babies. Although there are many benefits to using a baby swing, there are also some things to take into consideration when deciding how often and for how long to use it.
Sizes and Styles
Some baby swings are made just for newborns and infants, while others can handle babies that weigh as much as 30 lbs. Consider the size of your baby and make sure you choose the right swing for your baby’s age before you even begin to use the swing. Babies that are very mobile may also try to climb out of the swing, so place it on a hard, solid surface — not on a bed — and use the safety harness.
Limit the Time
Limit the time your baby spends in the swing. Consumer Reports recommends leaving your baby in the swing for no more than 30 minutes. Heidi Murkoff, the author of “What to Expect the First Year,” also recommends removing your baby from the swing after 30 minutes. She also suggests limiting the use of the swing to two 30-minute sessions per day.
Babies who are left in swings for long periods of time often miss out on interaction with their parents. While the motion of the swing is soothing, the baby cannot hear her mother’s voice or see her face. A sling or other baby-wearing device, on the other hand, provides motion and allows your baby the comfort of being able to see and hear you.
Freedom of Movement
Babies are secured firmly when in a swing and for good reason. Harnesses and straps ensure your baby will not fall out. Unfortunately, all this security can come at a price. Babies left in swings for long periods of time are kept relatively immobile. A baby in a swing cannot practice crawling and sometimes, the motion of the swing is strong enough to even prevent a baby from being able to lift his head. This can delay motor development.
Dizzy Baby, Sleepless Baby
Some babies actually become dizzy from being in baby swings, warns Consumer Reports. This is another reason to limit your baby’s time in a swing. Finally, babies who get used to the rocking motion of the swing may become dependent on that motion in order to fall asleep. When they get too old to be in the swing, these babies will not be able to fall asleep on their own and new methods to aid sleep will need to be introduced.