Do You Need a Baby Swing?

Baby in swing

Luca Lorenzelli / EyeEm / Getty Images

Each baby has its own unique personality and individual preferences, so it's not always possible to know in advance whether your little one will take to a particular piece of baby gear. However, most parents agree baby swings can be a lifesaver for soothing and calming their babies.

Your to-do list can seem overwhelming when you have a baby, and freeing up your hands to complete household tasks is invaluable. Baby swings provide a safe, comfortable environment for your baby when they are awake and supervised. They allow you to take a much-needed break from rocking and bouncing your little one during the day.

Like all baby items, parents must use swings per manufacturer instructions for them to be considered safe.

Let's take a look at the value of baby swings, as well as what precautions you should take when purchasing and using a swing for your little one.

Benefits of Using a Baby Swing

The most obvious benefit of using a baby swing is that it can provide enjoyment for your child while giving your tired arms a rest.

"The infant swing, along with so many other items babies require, is a valuable piece of baby gear for new parents," says Eric Anderson, MD, a pediatrician at Atrius Health in Burlington, Massachusetts.

Eric Anderson, MD

The swing can serve as a tool to soothe a fussy baby and can be a safe place to place the baby.

— Eric Anderson, MD

Unlike bouncers, swings provide constant motion for your child, which many babies find soothing. Many baby swings also come with mobiles and music features, which can keep your little one entertained.

Types of Baby Swings

Some parents opt to buy multiple baby swings. This decision can be helpful if you want a swing on each level of your home or if you'd like a portable swing to move around the house.

Portable swings can be helpful for small spaces, as they fold up and are easy to store. These lightweight swings are also great for transporting, so if you often visit friends or family members who don't have baby gear in their homes, a portable swing might be a handy item for you to have on hand.

Using a Baby Swing Safely

Before placing your baby in a swing for the first time, you'll want to brush up on the instructions. It's essential to read the product manual before using the swing to be sure all parts are accounted for and that the item has been correctly assembled.

Do not attach any items to the swing unless they came with the product. This includes mobiles, toys, etc., that are not designed to be used in conjunction with the swing, as they could be easily pulled off, causing injury to your child.

You'll also want to be sure you know the swing's history if you obtained it secondhand. For this reason, it's helpful to purchase or borrow from a family member or friend who can attest to the swing's safety and functionality.

Always use the swing's straps and harnesses—even if the swing is not in motion. Be sure to place the swing on flooring that is sturdy and level to ensure it will not tip

Risks of Overuse

You may find your baby loves being in their swing, which is excellent! Remember, when used safely, baby swings can be a fantastic spot for your baby.

However, parents should be aware that excessive amounts of time in the same position can result in babies developing positional plagiocephaly, or a flat head. Babies developing positional plagiocephaly from being on their back for long periods of time.

The AAP cautions, "Parents should limit the amount of waking time that their baby spends in a seat such as an infant swing, bouncy seat, car seat, or carrier to prevent the baby’s still-soft head from becoming flat as a result of being in the same position for too long."

It's recommended parents offer babies a few minutes of tummy time 2 to 3 times per day to build their neck and core strength.

Baby Swings and Safe Sleep

The most significant risk baby swings pose is that babies are often lulled to sleep by the rocking motion. Parents should be aware their baby is at risk any time they are placed to sleep anywhere other than an approved sleeping surface, regardless of the amount of time they're asleep.

The Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP) cautions babies should not be left to sleep in any infant seating device. This includes swings, bouncers, and car seats. Babies should sleep exclusively on a firm surface, and lie flat on their backs during the first year of life. The sleeping space should also be free of blankets, pillows, and other items that could pose a suffocation risk.

"According to AAP guidelines, sitting semi-upright for long periods of time in a swing can make it hard for younger infants to breathe well and can lead to an increased risk of SIDS," says Anderson.

The AAP states babies should be moved to a safe sleep surface as soon as possible if they fall asleep in a baby swing, bouncer, or an infant carrying device.

What the Research Shows

Research published by the AAP has indicated babies die each year while sleeping in devices meant for sitting.

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

Researchers also observed that death occurred more often when the baby's caretaker was sleeping or otherwise distracted.

A Word From Verywell

Baby swings are a must-have item for many new parents. When appropriately used, swings are a great tool for keeping your baby safe and entertained, which means more time for yourself.

As with any baby product, swings are only safe when used according to the instructions manual. Do not use a swing if it is missing any parts or if you have questions about its history. You will also need to be diligent about making sure your baby does not fall asleep in their swing as your baby should only be in a swing when they are awake and supervised.

Contact the manufacturer or your pediatrician to clear up any questions you have about your baby swing. Like your baby, you'll be able to relax and enjoy once you know your little one is safe and secure!

Was this page helpful?
2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Moon, R. How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained. American Academy of Pediatrics. Published December 23, 2020.

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