The Graco Duetsoothe Swing + Rocker’s variable swing directions are key: You can spin the seat 180 degrees, meaning your baby can swing from side-to-side facing either direction, or from front-to-back.
If your baby is fussing during the dreaded witching hour, or during those moments when you desperately need to do laundry, cook dinner, or eat a snack, a baby swing can feel like a lifesaver. There are dozens of swings out there, some battery operated, some electric, some that swing side-to-side and others that swing front-to-back, and still others with bluetooth-enabled features and fancy toy bars. But in the end, all those fancy features don’t matter much. What does matter: That the swing calms your fussy baby and gives you a moment of respite when you need it.
We researched and tested the most popular baby swings to find the number one option for most parents of babies, from newborns to 6-month olds. We looked for swings that were well-built and durable, contained important safety features, and offered a range of swing-direction options. In the end, we landed on the Graco Duetsoothe Swing + Rocker(available at Amazon for $179.99) as the best overall. It lets your baby swing front-to-back or side-to-side, the seat converts easily into a rocker, it’s built with sturdy materials, and the extra features—including a mobile and music—are useful but subtle.
Here are the best baby swings we tested ranked, in order:
Graco Duetsoothe Swing + Rocker
4moms MamaRoo 4
Graco Glider LX Gliding Swing
Fisher Price Cradle n’ Swing
KidCo Swing Pod
Ingenuity Convert Me Swing-2-Seat
Nuna LEAF Grow
Graco DuetSoothe Swing + Rocker
Because every baby has a different preference when it comes to swings, the Graco Duetsoothe Swing + Rocker’s variable swing directions are key. You can spin the seat 180 degrees, meaning your baby can swing from side-to-side facing either direction, or from front-to-back. Overall, we think this swing is likely to soothe your baby, no matter their swinging preferences.
The Duetsoothe is a bulky 34 inches wide and 43 inches tall, but its lean look and grey coloring make it visibly less obtrusive than many of the other swings we tested. You can remove the seat and use it as a stand-alone rocker, which gives you a portable place to set your baby anywhere in the house. Note that the rocker itself is not electronic (the full swing can be plugged in or operated using D batteries), so you may have to walk by and kick it occasionally to keep your baby moving.
The Duetsoothe contains many useful and fun features: a mobile with three stuffed bears, 10 subtle classical music songs (and a range of volumes), white noise in the form of five nature soundtracks, and a two-speed, battery-operated vibration setting. This was also one of the quietest swings we tested—unlike many of the other models, the motor didn’t make loud noises and there was no back-and-forth clicking sound. And it slows down when you reach in to touch your baby or remove them from the swing, then speeds up again once you’ve removed your hands.
The DuetSoothe is also made with high-quality materials, which suggests that you could use this swing for quite some time, and also that it’s still a good purchase even if it’s been used by another family. The seat—which was fairly recumbent—has a 5-point harness and a padded headrest. It contains an infant insert, and can be used for babies from 5.5 to 30 pounds. (Note that the weight limit on the stand-alone rocker is only 18 pounds.) You can easily remove the seat pad (which is attached via elastic loops and straps) and machine wash it in cold water on a delicate cycle, but the brand recommends air drying the pad after you do so.
A few downsides: The DuetSooth swings at six speeds, but we found that anything over the 4th speed was too fast and risked rolling our baby from side to side, as well as hitting other things in the room because of the swing’s width. It was also fairly difficult to build; after 30 minutes, we abandoned the tough-to-decipher manual and headed to YouTube. And even when it’s detached from the swing, the rocker is bulky and tough to take in the car; if you’re planning to carry a swing with you to multiple locations, you’ll want to pick something else.
The DuetSoothe had nearly 2,000 reviews on Amazon at the time of this writing, with an overall rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars. Most of the reviews are positive, but some users complain about a clicking noise that develops after using the swing for a month or more, which is likely a motor issue. We didn’t have this problem but swings are notorious for developing motor problems, so we recommend reaching out to Graco and asking for replacement parts if that issue happens in your home.
I’m Jenni Gritters, a journalist with a decade of experience writing about all things health and science. I previously edited longform product reviews about the outdoors and travel at Wirecutter, and you can find my bylines in all sorts of publications, like the New York Times, the Guardian, Wirecutter, the REI Co-op Journal, Gear Patrol, and beyond. I had my first baby—a boy, named Liam—in December 2019, and since then I’ve been reviewing baby gear and writing about the psychology of parenting.
We assembled each baby swing according to the instructions, then left the swing up in our small townhouse for at least two days. During that time, our baby (who was 2-months-old when we started this project, and 4-months-old by the time we finished) hung out in the swings for at least 30 minutes each day. We tried out the various swing settings, clipped him into the safety harnesses, and let him gaze up at the various mobiles and toys. We very quickly learned that he prefered to swing side-to-side, rather than front-to-back.
We cleaned all the swing covers according to their instructions, carried the portable baby swings around the house with us, and packed them into the car for a trip to the grandparents’ house when we could. While we did this, we took notes about build quality, stability, safety features, ease of use, potential adjustability, and more.
What to Consider When Buying a Baby Swing
Yes, infant swings are convenient for naps. But the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued several warnings about leaving your child in a swing, bouncer, or similar device, which has been tied to head-and-neck related emergency room visits. They also recommend limiting time in a swing to 15 minutes twice per day, to prevent babies’ still-soft heads from flattening (which can happen when they sit or lie in the same reclining positions for too long).
Based on this, we looked for swings that were stable. We didn’t want a swing that made us worried our baby could fall out, nor did we want a swing that felt liable to break. We also chose swings with safety harnesses and infant inserts for smaller babies.
We chose swings that were built with high-quality materials. A good infant swing will cost you at least $100, and we want that purchase to last through a few children.
Easy to Wash / Machine Washable Covers
We also picked swings that offered machine washable or easy to watsh covers (because we all know blowouts are most likely to occur the moment you put your fussy baby in that soothing swing).
Adjustability & Variability
Good swings move in multiple directions and have adjustable seats. This is important because babies can be picky. You likely won’t know which motions your baby prefers until they start swinging, so more options is always better!
Of course, your baby’s comfort in the swing matters most of all,but every baby is different, so this feature is a bit subjective. We preferred swings with softer materials, headrests, and plush seats. Cheaper swings often contain a bit of fabric stretched over a frame, while the pricier models have foam seats that are more comfortable and supportive for a baby’s spine.
The ability to take the swing from room to room, or even in the car to another location was useful. However, we found that the portable baby swings we tested were in general less well-made, so we decided we’d prefer a swing that works over one we can carry around with us.
Ease of Use
A good swing should be easy to use and assemble. Ideally, we didn’t want to spend more than 15 minutes building the swing, and we looked for swings that had easy-to-operate settings.
While they’re just the icing on the cake, our favorite swings had fun features like music, mobiles, white noise, mirrors, and toy bars. These elements keep your baby entertained while they swing, which can give you a longer break.
Other Baby Swings We Tested
If you have a baby older than 3-months-old and under 25 pounds, the MamaRoo could be a good choice. This swing was the most technology-enabled option we tested. It’s easy to set up, and has 5 settings—including car ride and tree swing—that can each be set at five different speed levels. There’s also a fun mobile with balls that contain bells. Plus, it’s lightweight, making it fairly easy to move around the house; you can sync the swing up to your phone; it feels well-built; and the motor is quiet. But there are some downsides: The MamaRoo’s motions are sometimes erratic, taking the baby up-and-down and side-to-side at various intervals, which caused our baby’s moro reflex (also known as the startle reflex) to kick in. Babies typically grow out of this reflex at between 4 and 6 months, which makes the MamaRoo a good option for older babies. The MamaRoo’s settings are also on the base of the swing, on the floor; if you don’t have the swing synced to your phone, you’ll have to lean over or step on the settings with your toes. And several online reviewers mentioned that they couldn’t get their swing easily repaired. When they called 4mom’s customer service team, the only option was to buy new (expensive) parts.
Like our top pick, the Glider LX was tough to assemble; we again ended up abandoning the manual for a YouTube tutorial. The swing only moves from front-to-back, though it was stable and nicely compact which makes it easier to move throughout the house compared to many of the other options we tested; it doesn’t fold, though, so you can’t pack it into the car. There are white noise and music options, and a toy bar, too. Overall, this swing was a just-fine experience, but it’s lack of variable swing directions made it a less-appealing contender.
This swing, which comes in several versions including the Snugapuppy and Snugabunny, has a huge, supportive following online—and we can see why: Compared to the other swings we tested, our baby was most comfortable in this side-to-side swing. It magically calmed him down no matter his mood, and he loved staring at the mirror beneath the mobile. The Cradle n’ Swing slows down when you reach in to pick the baby up, and it offers music and a mobile. While loud, we thought this would be our favorite option—until it broke. We tested two versions of this swing: the first had a broken motor within a week; the second arrived broken and wouldn’t swing at all. It’s also obtrusive—both in look and size—making it a tough option for parents who don’t have a lot of space at home.
This issue of poor materials is sadly common online; if you get a swing that works, you’ll likely be happy with it, despite its wide frame and very kid-oriented color scheme. But if you get a swing that’s broken, or if the motor dies quickly, your only option is to try to replace the parts or to macgyver a fix using DIY methods, which are plentiful on YouTube.
The SwingPod Travel Swaddle Swing is a swaddle with handles; you put the baby inside, wrap them up using velcro panels, then grab the handles and swing them like a purse, back and forth, side to side. While there’s a lot of variabilities available in this option, it’s also completely parent-operated. It doesn’t give you a break and our baby felt constricted rather than soothed. It’s also only recommended for babies up to 15 pounds. On the plus side, it’s inexpensive.
The Ingenuity ConvertMe felt cheaper than the other swings we tested. It’s battery-operated, plus the seat wasn’t comfortable for our baby tester. (It was a simple piece of fabric stretched over a frame.) The swing only moves front-to-back, and it’s difficult to reach in if you want to grab your baby or move them to their crib. A few bonuses: This swing converts into a seat for children up to 20 pounds and it’s fairly slim, compared to most other options. But we think the cheaper-feeling materials are a dealbreaker.
The LEAF Grow was arguably the most attractive swing in the bunch; it looked less like a baby item and more like an aesthetically-pleasing piece of furniture. There was virtually no assembly required, and it had a very slim profile. But the swing wasn’t battery operated or electric, and you had to kick the swing to begin the side-to-side continuous motion, which only lasted about 20 seconds. The motion was also jerky and too fast for our infant; he startled frequently and refused to stay in the swing for more than a few minutes. Finally, the toy bar on this swing—while cute and aesthetically pleasing—was not particularly engaging for an infant, and the toy bar’s clips didn’t hold well, so it kept falling off and landing on his face.
Jenni Gritters is a Seattle-based freelance journalist who covers health, psychology, business, and travel. You can find her bylines in The Guardian, Wirecutter, Outside magazine, 538, Mindbodygreen, and beyond. When Jenni isn't working with words, she's teaching yoga and mindfulness; hiking, camping, and snowshoeing in the Pacific Northwest mountains; and running with her husband and puppy.
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