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Are baby swings safe? 9 things you need to know

Injury free is the name of this game

A colorful drawing of a baby in a baby swing Credit: Reviewed / Cristina Spano

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I have no idea how I would have gotten through our baby’s first year without a baby swing. We were gifted a Graco baby swing when our son was five months old and, suddenly, parenting became so much easier.

If you can’t afford a full-time nanny to give you a much-needed break, you’re going to want a baby swing.

But, the questions do arise: Are baby swings safe? And, what can I do to ensure that my infant is safe while using one? The answer is they can be safe, but there are things you need to know and precautions to follow.

Our testers have put the most popular swings on the market to the test. For the absolute best baby swings our expert testers have tried, visit our in-depth review of the best baby swings. For plan-ahead tips on how to make your baby swing the safest it can possibly be, read on.

Are baby swings safe?

Small baby laying swing while staring upwards.
Credit: Getty Images / Miljan Živković

Baby swings are safe to use as long as your baby is under close supervision.

As useful as baby swings can be, their reputation can be mixed. In recent years, there have been recalls over certain models of baby swings and the dangers they may pose to infants.

When a baby swing is used properly and under supervision, they can be quite safe. We do recommend you educate yourself on the dos and don’ts of baby swings, however.

Can babies sleep in a swing?

Because baby swings are so convenient, it can be counter-intuitive to think that a baby shouldn’t be left to catch a few zzzs in them after they’ve been gently rocked to sleep.

The fact is, you should never let a baby sleep in a baby bouncer, swing, or rocker—or any place that’s not a crib or bassinet.

Whether it be for naps or for the night, babies should only ever sleep on their backs on a flat surface. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “If your baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier or sling, you should move them to a firm sleep surface on their back as soon as possible.”

They also say you should never let a baby sleep in a product that isn’t specifically created for infant sleep.

Baby swing risks

Why can’t my baby sleep in a baby swing?

Small baby sleeping in hanging swing.
Credit: Getty Images / Skyak

The safest way for your baby to sleep on is a steady, flat surface.

The reason infants need to sleep on a flat surface and on their backs is to allow for open airways for breathing. Slumping forward, which can easily happen when an infant is sleeping sitting up or on an incline can obstruct a baby's airways, thereby suffocating them.

There have also been reports of children moving in unexpected ways and having their airways obstructed by the straps on the rocker. While asleep, an infant can tumble to the side, where straps can inhibit their breathing.

Babies should never sleep on an incline

In 2019 the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning against allowing infants to sleep in car seats, swings, rockers or any other product that may hold an infant at an incline, with their head higher than their feet.

The warning came after the agency studied what happened to babies’ movements and oxygen levels when they were placed in various products and positions.

In May of this year, President Joe Biden signed the Safe Sleep for Babies Act into law, which—in part—focuses on the importance of a baby’s sleep surface being flat and not on an incline.

In short, not only is it advised that your infant never sleeps on an incline, there are laws being passed to try to educate parents and hold manufacturers more accountable to ensure this doesn't happen.

Can a baby sleep in a swing all night?

The answer is no. Once you’ve noticed your infant has dozed off, the AAP recommends you move them immediately to a flat surface.

At what age are baby swings safe?

Many baby swings can be used when a baby is only a few weeks old, but you should check the manual for the particular swing you have in mind to purchase. It’s important to note, however, that the American Academy of Pediatrics cautions that babies younger than 4 months should always be seated in the swing’s most reclined position to prevent suffocation

Ensure safe breathing

Between 2009 and 2012, more than 350 swing-related safety incidents were reported, including two infant deaths and 24 injuries. The CPSC approved new safety standards for baby swings in 2012 to address these problems, but it’s still important for caregivers to heed safe sleep recommendations.

Be sure to heed the recommendations of always moving your baby to a flat surface, both to prevent slumping and to prevent the possibility of straps and harnesses inhibiting their ability to breathe.

9 tips for how to safely use a baby swing

Here are some baby swing safety tips as outlined by the AAP, as well as a few tips of our own:

1. Check for recalls

This is especially important to check for recalls if your swing is a hand-me-down or you’ve purchased the swing secondhand. We recommend that you check the Consumer Product Safety Commission's recall database monthly for recalls on all baby products.

2. Read the instruction manual

Person sitting on floor while reviewing information on paper and on laptop computer screen.
Credit: Getty Images / Sturti

Make sure to save the instruction manual rather than tossing it when unboxing your new swing.

Before you ever put a baby in a swing you should thoroughly read the instruction manual and all of the manufacturer’s safety recommendations. Different swings may have different recommendations, so even if you're familiar with one swing, it's important to educate yourself on any swing your baby may be using.

Be sure all parts are included and that you closely follow the assembly guidelines. If you have a hand-me-down or second-hand swing, download the instruction manual.

3. Check the swing's weight limits

Too big or too small—whatever the case may be—if your child falls outside of the recommended weight guidelines, it’s not safe for them to use. Some swings—particularly portable swings—may convert to child seats at that point, to extend their lifespan.

Even if your child is well within the weight limits of the swing, if they frequently fuss or try to crawl out, it’s an indication that they have outgrown the swing—if not by weight, then by temperament. This is a sign that you should stop using the swing.

4. Steady the baby swing

Small baby reclining in swing with hand in mouth.
Credit: Getty Images / nedomacki

Ensure everything on your swing is secure by giving it a test run beforehand.

Your child's baby swing should not tip over or fold up easily. If it does, it's unsafe.

It can be tempting to put a portable or folding swing on a table or a couch, but you should never put a baby swing on top of furniture. Always be sure that it’s on an even surface and that there is nothing beneath it that could make it unsteady while swinging. It’s always a good idea to do a quick check to make sure that the baby swing will not easily tip, before securing an infant inside.

5. Position the baby swing at a safe and secure angle

According to the AAP, infants under four months should always be seated in the most reclined position the baby swing allows for. This will help to decrease the chances of them slumping forward and potentially suffocating.

6. Don’t leave a baby in a swing for more than 30 minutes at a time

The AAP warns that leaving your baby in the swing for more than 30 minutes at a time (or a total of one hour a day) can increase the risk of them developing flat spots on their head. It's recommended that they only be in a swing for two 30-minute increments a day.

7. Check the straps

Always check to make sure all straps and point harnesses are correctly positioned when in use. If the seat of the baby swing can recline to more than a 50-degree angle, it should have a 5-point harness to help keep your baby in place.

All belts must be fastened any time the swing is in use. When not in use, make sure they are still clipped in place so as to ensure that a child doesn’t accidentally get tangled in them when crawling by, as this can create a choking hazard.

8. Secure the toys

Small baby reaching upwards to play with hanging toys on swing.
Credit: Getty Images / Mladen_Kostic

While toys are interesting to look at for your baby, they could be a potential hazard.

The AAP recommends that all toys on mobiles or toys attached to the swing’s toy bar should be well-secured and should not pull off easily. It’s recommended that you only use toys that come with the swing you have purchased or that are manufacturer-approved accessories.

9. Again, don't let your baby sleep in the swing

As we've stated above, if your baby dozes off to the soothing motions of the swing, it’s advised that you move them immediately to a safe surface. They should be transferred to a firm, flat surface and be laid on their backs to sleep at all times.

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