Can Babies Sleep in a Baby Swing?

Baby in swing - stock photo

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Swings are a must-have item on most baby registries. Not only do swings provide a change of pace for your baby—they're also great for freeing up your hands on a busy day.

While baby swings are a perfect tool for keeping your little one entertained, misusing them can be hazardous.

The motion of the swing will often lull infants to sleep. Babies may look peaceful resting in a swing, but allowing them to stay asleep in this position has been deemed risky by safe sleep experts.

Let's take a look at the proper way to use a baby swing, as well as recommended sleep practices for your child to ensure they're slumbering safely.

Why Aren't Babies Swings Safe for Sleep?

It seems counterintuitive that a product designed for comfort and enhanced with music isn't a suitable place for babies to fall asleep.

Babies Should Sleep on a Flat Surface

Parents should know babies are at risk any time they're placed to sleep somewhere that isn't a flat, firm surface.

Rather than sleeping on their stomachs or sides, it's safer for babies to sleep on their backs because they're less likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) if they sleep on their back.

"A number of large studies have looked at data sets involving infant deaths," said Corey Fish, MD, chief medical officer at Brave Care in Portland, Oregon.

Corey Fish, MD

To reduce the risk of SIDS, the safest place for babies to sleep is on their backs in their own space.

— Corey Fish, MD

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states babies are put in danger any time they're placed in a bouncy seat, baby swing, or carrier to sleep during their first year of life. This is true both for naps and nighttime sleep.

According to the AAP, “if your baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, or sling, you should move him or her to a firm sleep surface on his or her back as soon as possible.”

Suffocation Is More Likely

Falling asleep in an upright position can cause your baby's head to slump forward. This position can interfere with their breathing and is considered a suffocation risk.

If your baby falls asleep in their swing, be sure to move them to their crib or another flat surface where they can safely sleep on their back.

Waking your sleeping baby may seem daunting, but keeping an infant in a swing while asleep is unsafe.

How Serious Is the Risk?

You may be wondering just how dangerous it truly is to allow your baby to sleep in their swing. After all, you've likely seen other babies doing it, and manufacturers test infant products before they are released. So, what's the harm?

Research published by the AAP has indicated hundreds of babies die each year while sleeping in devices meant for sitting. This includes swings, carriers, car seats, strollers, and bouncy chairs.

What the Research Shows

Research published by the AAP has indicated hundreds of babies die each year while sleeping in devices meant for sitting. This includes swings, carriers, car seats, strollers, and bouncy chairs.

The research studied 11,779 infant deaths that occurred during sleep. Of those deaths studied, 3% of them (348 deaths) occurred in a “sitting device.”

Of those 348 deaths:

  • 219 deaths (62.9%) occurred in car seats (most in non-traveling situations)
  • 122 deaths (35.1%) occurred in baby swings and bouncers
  • 7 deaths (2%) occurred in a stroller

It should be noted that many of these instances occurred under similar circumstances. Contributing factors to infant death in these cases included:

Researchers also observed death occurred more often when the baby's caretaker was sleeping or otherwise distracted. However, it's still possible for SIDS to occur when the parent or caretaker is alert and awake if a baby is not in a proper sleeping position and apparatus.

How to Safely Use a Baby Swing

If you've already purchased or are using a baby swing, don't fret—these devices are perfectly safe when used correctly.

Parents shouldn't place their babies in swings to sleep, but they're convenient for keeping babies content and entertained when awake.

Here are some tips as outlined by the AAP for safely using a baby swing:

  • Read the instruction manual before use. Be sure all parts are included and that you follow the assembly guidelines.
  • Check to be sure the swing has not been recalled before use (especially if you purchased the item second-hand).
  • Babies under four months should be seated in the most reclined position offered by the swing to decrease the chance of them slumping forward and potentially suffocating.
  • Always check to make sure all straps and harnesses are correctly positioned and in use. Baby swings that recline at an angle greater than 50 degrees should have shoulder straps to help keep your baby in place. All belts must be fastened any time the swing is in use.
  • Only attach items that come with the product. Avoid affixing different toys, mobiles, etc., that the manufacturer did not approve.
  • Check the swing's weight limits. Do not place your baby in a swing if their weight falls outside the recommended usage guidelines.
  • Be sure the baby swing is steady. Swings should not be placed on uneven surfaces or on top of other furniture. Check to ensure the swing cannot easily tip (or fold, if portable).
  • Don't let your baby fall asleep in the swing. If your baby falls asleep in the swing, immediately pick them up and transfer them to a flat, firm surface on their back.

A Word From Verywell

Despite the potential dangers of misuse, you can rest assured that baby swings are safe when used according to the manufacturer's instructions. In fact, they can be a lifesaver when you need to place your baby down to make dinner or attend to other nearby tasks.

When purchasing a swing, be sure to review the safety guidelines before your first use. Swings that have not been recalled are safe to use so long as you do so as recommended. Be sure all parts are accounted for and that the swing is properly assembled.

Swings are meant to be used recreationally while under a caretaker's supervision. Never place your baby in a swing to sleep, and be sure to move your baby should they fall asleep while in their swing.

If you have any questions or doubts about whether you're following safe sleep guidelines, contact your pediatrician for the most up-to-date information about best sleep practices for infants.

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  1. Moon, R. How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained. American Academy of Pediatrics. Published December 23, 2020.

  2. Moon, R. How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained. Updated December 23, 2020.

  3. Colvin, J. Han, A. Liaw, P. Moon, R. Infant Deaths in Sitting Devices. Pediatrics. July 2019, 144 (1) e20182576; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2018-257.

  4. Korioth, T. Safe and sound: tips for using infant swings. AAP News. 2014;31(1).