What Everybody Ought to Know About Baby Swings

Little Boy happily swinging in B&W landscape

Why isn't he sleeping yet?

Baby swings. Some are great. Some are ineffective. And some break easily. Sure you could drop $160 on a baby swing that doesn’t help your baby sleep and breaks 3 weeks after you bought it.

But let’s face it – you just had a baby. You’re going to need that money for Starbucks and takeout.

What You Care About

A safe, reliable swing with enough motion to help your baby sleep.

What You Don’t Care About

Toys and music. We’re using the swing as a sleep-aid which means we’re NOT going to use it as a baby amusement park. Also we know that white noise helps babies sleep better so we don’t care which swing plays better music. And finally most baby swings produce music/white noise on a timer which means your baby swing will likely NOT be your source for white noise (unless your baby takes 7 minute naps in which case you’ve got bigger problems than picking out the best baby swing).

Travel Baby Swings


  • They’re small. If you’re living in a 500 sq ft apartment in lower Manhattan then a full-sized swing may simply not be an option for you.
  • They’re cheap (about 50% less than a full-sized swing).


  • They don’t tend to help babies sleep as well as full-sized swings. Bigger swings result in more swinging motion which tends to be more effective for helping babies sleep.
  • Swing timer = FAIL. Travel swings often only swing for a set amount of time which means both you and your baby will be waking up every 45 minutes all night long when the timer shuts off.
  • They’re very low to the ground. While the weight limit is 25 lbs (roughly the same as that of a full-sized swing) if you have a tall baby you may find their heels dragging on the ground within a month or two.

Bottom Line: In general I don’t recommend travel swings for baby sleep. If money is really tight you would probably be better off finding a lightly used recent-model full-sized swing on Craigslist.

Full-Sized Swings


  • They have good full-range swinging motion which is most effective to help babies sleep.
  • No timer on swinging. Yay!
  • Some models are available with electrical plugs which spares you and the environment the pile of batteries you’ll be producing otherwise.
  • They can safely and comfortably hold a baby from birth to 8+ months of age.


  • They’re pricey. Expect to pay anywhere from $99 – $160 online and $140+ in local stores.
  • They’re big. While technically they fold up a) folding them only makes them about 20% smaller and b) you’ll be using it so often it won’t get folded up until baby is sleeping in her crib and you store it away in the basement.
  • They’re loud(ish). Having a baby swing swinging full-bore inches from your bed will take some getting used to. Using loud-white noise will help.
  • They eat batteries (if using batteries). If you’re the swing full-time, expect to replace 4 D-cells every 7-10 days. Rechargeable batteries won’t work.
  • They’re heavy-ish. If you just had a C-section you won’t appreciate having to move this around.

Which Brand is Right for You?


Graco baby swings have the advantage of a 5 point harness and the highest weight limit (30 lbs) of any swing on the market. However they also have notoriously underpowered motors which are prone to burn out. I have found that Graco customer service will send you a replacement motor (they’re surprisingly easy to swap out) for free. However if your little one needs a swing to sleep, waiting for your replacement motor to show up in the mail can make for a rough couple of days.

Fisher Price

Update 10/13/2014
Fisher Price is adding something called “smart swing technology” so all their swings moving forward. While “smart swing technology” sounds like something you would want, in actuality it’s just a fancy term for “swings on a timer.” So all swings will automatically shut off every ~45 minutes. For younger babies this will probably not be an issue and many babies are done sleeping in swings by ~3 months. However if your baby really needs that motion you may find that the timer is the bane of your existence with baby waking up every 45 minutes all night long. While you can still buy non-smart swing technology swings in stores, it’s going to be increasingly difficult to find Fisher Price swings that don’t turn off on a timer. So sadly, because of this, Fisher  Price is no longer my all-time favorite baby swing. Boooo!

Fisher Price Baby Swings

I love the Fisher Price Papasan swing. They are cute, effective, and reliable. It can be adjusted to swing in two directions (although front to back is generally best). The only downside is that the 3 pt harness is slightly less desirable than the 5 pt harness. Although I have never personally worked with a baby that has managed to get out of the swing (and if you snap the tray in place it would be VERY difficult to do so). Some of the models have a mesh decoration that hangs around the swing. Although I’ve never had an issue with this, for sleep safety, I don’t recommend having loose fabric anywhere near babies. You can avoid this by choosing a model without this decoration or cutting it off the one you have.

But let me be clear – this is my favorite baby swing, bar none.

Bright Starts

To be honest I have no personal experience with this brand of swing. They make a variety of travel swings available for ~$60 and full-size swings for ~$120. Do you have one? How’s it working out?

The Car Nap Extender Swing

Special Circumstances

Problem: Your little one habitually falls asleep seconds before you pull into the driveway. If you pick him up to bring him inside he won’t quietly fall back asleep in his bed/swing but will tell you in no uncertain terms that he is DONE napping now thankyouverymuch. If you sit in the car he’ll happily take a solid nap in there but for various reasons (it’s bad for the environment, it’s boring, YOU can’t nap in the car, you have to go to the bathroom, etc.) this is not a desirable option.

Solution: Graco doesn’t make a traditional travel swing but they do have this nifty invention which holds a SnugRide car seat enabling you to make a swing out of your infant car seat. Most people don’t really need one of these as your baby will primarily be sleeping in their swing. However if your baby falls asleep in the car and you can’t avoid driving near nap time (when baby is prone to fall asleep in the car) the SnugGlider MAY be the answer for you.

When your baby falls asleep in the car simply remove baby and carseat from the car and snap into your SnugGlider (best located somewhere near-ish to the car). Turn on the white noise, vibration, and swing and let the car nap continue inside. At $50-$60 a pop, the SnugGlider is not a “must-have” item for people who aren’t frequently driving their newborn baby around. But if you find yourself camped out in your car while baby sleeps, it maybe a worthy investment.

This article represents my honest opinion based on my experience with various baby swings over many years, babies, and swings. I am not sponsored by nor do I have any vested interest in any baby swing manufacturer.

{photo credits: Rhea Ball and Lisa Stout}

Subscribe to our mailing list

Email Address *


  1. Hi Alexis! (I meant to post this comment on this blog post)

    We bought the Fisher Price Snug-A-Puppy Swing 3 weeks ago and they must have made some changes to it because the lower speeds are definitely WAY slower than the faster ones (and level one is barely swinging at all). So that’s good. What’s NOT good is that the swing itself must be on a timer because it shuts off after around 5-6 hrs. I haven’t timed it exactly yet but if I don’t restart before I go to bed I’ll wake up in the middle of the night to a non-moving swing (and sometimes an awake baby). I can’t find anything on their website about this. Have you heard of this possibly new “feature”? I have e-mailed Fisher Price to ask them about it.

    • Yes! I mean NOOOOO!

      They’ve implemented “smart swing” technology which sounds really exciting right? But what it MEANS is that any new swing with “smart swing technology” on the label will TURN OFF after like 45 minutes. And going forward ALL Fisher Price swings will feature this technology. I posted about this on Facebook and asked FB about it on twitter but got no response. So you can either buy a non “smart swing” swing as they still exist in stores (but they’ll be increasingly hard to get) or buy a Graco swing.

      Alexis Dubief recently posted..Bedtime: Everything Starts HereMy Profile

  2. I have a Bright Stars Comfort and Harmony travel swing and I really like it. My son loves it for sleeping or awake time. It’s very light and easy to move around our townhouse. My son is in the 97 percentile for length and I don’t find that it’s not long enough for him (he’s 6 weeks old now). It does have a timer but when it runs out he’s asleep anyway so I haven’t had an issue with that feature. I don’t use the music often but it’s not annoying like some 😉

    • Hi Kelly,

      I’m so glad you’re having good sleep with your little peanut :) I will say that as he gets older IF he’s still in the swing (most kids are out by ~3 months but some kiddos aren’t) the timer thing will likely be an issue. Plenty of babies wake up when the timer turns off all night long. Which is why I’m pretty “anti” timers – I like parents to be in charge, not the timer 😛

      Good luck!
      Alexis Dubief recently posted..Bedtime: Everything Starts HereMy Profile

      • I’m really enjoying your website, lots of good info. I’m spreading the word to my Mommy friends. Trying to get my 6 week old son on a sleep schedule and your advice it really helping – Thanks!

      • I know that you are completely bombarded with questions daily from a million desperate parents, each with their own unique situation, but I’m going for it anyway…I’m that desperate.

        My son turns 10 months old today and I’m having issues getting him out of the swing. When he was newborn he was officially diagnosed with reflux (I know it seems like the diagnosis du jour but he was puking all over the place and moaning and coughing like crazy all night long…), so he’s still on Zantac twice a day. He falls asleep on his own with no issues at all in the crib with a lovey and paci and loud white noise. His bedtime is between 5:30 and 6:00 (which is early, I know, but he only takes one nap a day at daycare and that’s probably not going to get better). The problem is that he wakes up anywhere between 8 and 10 every night, has a bottle and refuses to go back to sleep in the crib (or if goes back to sleep in there, he’ll be up every 1.5 – 2 hours needing some butt patting)…I’m confused as hell bc I don’t know if it’s a reflux issue or he just wants to go in the swing. Once in the (non-moving) swing, he sleeps great, but he does wake up for a second feeding anytime between 2 and 4 a.m., although he has had long runs of sleeping all the way through to morning (5 – 6 a.m.)–it’s been a while since he’s done that (I miss those nights). I’d love to drop that second feeding bc I’m tired…so tired…but I don’t know what my priorities should be. So, the questions I just don’t have the answers to:
        1. Is he refusing to go back to sleep in the crib bc reflux is still an issue?
        2. Is the pacifier potentially causing him to wake? (although he often goes to sleep after his first night time bottle without the paci and still wakes for the 2nd bottle)
        3. Should I even be giving him a bottle when he wakes between 8-10? (12 hours seems like a long stretch to go without any food)
        4. Should I get rid of the paci before getting him out of the swing completely?
        5. Is the swing going to explode? (my son is a very big boy–off the charts for height and weight and is already past the 25 lbs. weight limit)

        We tried a crib wedge and all that did was have him sliding to the bottom of it, so it was pointless (as I think you’ve said somewhere on here). Anyway, if you are able to offer any advice thank you–if you’re not, thank you anyway. You’re site has been a great resource and I don’t think I would’ve stayed sane for the first 5 months without it.

        • AAAAG WordPress ate my comment (shakes fist at administrator – hey wait THAT’S ME!)

          OK quick summation of long previous and now eaten comment – my own giant refluxing kids were in swings until 10 and 13 months. Course we had Graco swings which go to 30 lbs. But you and I are outliers – most kids are out of swings prior to this. If it were me I would:
          1) Stop using the paci at bedtime and during the night. Full on.
          2) Gently wean those 2 feedings. Food and sleep are not a good combination for refluxing kids – empty tummies help refluxers to sleep flat on their back. This should take no more than 7-14 days?
          3) Move to crib. Don’t give up after 1 rough night. A bit of back patting is OK to help with the transition but be mindful that you aren’t doing it so much it’s habit forming. And if you DO pat, make sure you’re patting less each subsequent night. Commit to a 5 night crib trial.

          If after all that the crib sleep is STILL utter crap I might revisit the meds – maybe it’s time to increase the dose? But I’m fairly optimistic that if you approach things in that order, you’ll get there OK :)

          Come back and let me know how it goes – OK?
          Alexis recently posted..Bedtime: Everything Starts HereMy Profile

          • Thank you so much for your reply! We’re already working on getting rid of the latest feeding. One quick question on night weaning. When diluting the bottles should I use 2 ounces less each night or give each drop in formula per ounce of water a couple of nights? Thank you so much!!

  3. I am enjoying your site very much! I have a baby that “needs motion” to sleep and he has been sleeping in the Rock n’ Play since birth, but I’m worried about your dire warnings about not letting baby fall asleep on his own. As it is now, I am there rocking the Rock n’ Play until he drifts off. What are your thoughts on the Rock n’ Play? Should I switch to a swing? BTW, we only have a second-hand travel swing and that thing SUCKS, haha! If you recommend the swing, I will get a full size one! :)

  4. Hi Alexis! I’m confused about your update on the fisher price swing- does it turn off every 4 hours or every 45 minutes? I think I’m probably reading your post wrong, but it seems like you said 45 min in one place and 4 hours further down. I’m trying to decide between the Graco duet connect and a fisher price swing. Thanks!

  5. What swings do not have a timer/ shut off on their own? I’m having trouble finding that info when looking online. Thank you!

  6. I love this site and can’t wait for the book! My 4.5 baby needs motion and also needs to be swaddled to sleep best. So I’ve been putting her in thr mamaroo swing on the lowest setting and just kind of tying the straps around f her waist. We’ve been doing this since shes 5weeks but lately I stead of her usual 4 hr stretch from 6 to 10pm I started putting her to bed later at 7p and she gets up like every two hours and 40 min like clockwork. Wonder what I’m missing. .. it was working so well??!

  7. Hi Alexis,
    We recently brought our twins home from the NICU and purchased two Momaroos from before finding your blog. The boys seem to love them and have been sleeping 2.5-3 hours through the night in them for the most part. Now I’m wondering if we also need swings too, or if the Momaroos are equivalent enough. They’re $200/ea so I hope so! Also we’re already running out of room for all their things as it is.

  8. Alexis!!!!!

    You are seriously my hero. OMG. My girlfriend referred me to your blog when night after night after night of sleepless nights with my precious (almost 5 month old) were making me feel like one of the White Walkers. (Zombie undead GOT reference JUST for you.)

    I got the Fisher Price My Little Snuagpuppy swing yesterday in a daze of exhaustion and set upon putting it together myself (and I am not handy so that tells you something about my desperation level.) I previously had the mamaroo and it pretty much did absolutely NOTHING for my kid. Strike that, it did do absolutely nothing for my kid. So a few things, the Snugapuppy swing I purchased does have “Smart Swing technology.” Whoops! Only read this post after I got it yesterday, but it keeps swinging for Peyton. It’s not stopping for us which is awesome. I’m wondering if maybe it senses his weight and keeps swinging vs. smaller newborns? Big boy’s 16.5 lbs so maybe that’s the difference? Either way, I will take it all. ALL OF IT. Because for the first time in 3 months my little man slept from 7pm until 4:30am. I could NOT believe it. I had to wake him up to feed. And he is falling asleep independently in it, which I cannot believe either. Your blog and this swing are a Godsend. I feel like a human being today after months of functioning on 2-3 hours sleep, with a baby who was waking 6-8 times a night and takes 30 minute naps.

    THANK YOU. I will now work toward the crib and weaning him off the swing. He started on level 4 last night and that was enough motion to get him there. I only wish I had discovered your blog and swing suggestions earlier! I tried unsuccessfully for weeks with the Baby Whisperer method of pick up/put down and was at the end of my sleep deprived rope, as was my sweet little angel man.

    So from both of us, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can now type this to you as Peyton naps happily in his swing (for about an hour and a half now) instead of me crying and pleading with my small fry to rest.

    YOU ROCK! xoxo

    • UPDATE: I lied about the swing not stopping! #grrrrr Definitely stops after 4 hours and the motor significantly slowed on me my second day of use! Good news is they are sending me a new one, but still…come on Fisher Price! Despite all that, I will still take the victories as they come. Thank you, Alexis!!! xo

  9. Hi Alexis, love your site, thank you for it!

    We have a 2 week old girl who refuses to sleep for more than an hour (usually only 30 mins) anywhere but in our arms. We have tried white noise, swaddling, paci, elevating the cot slightly, pre-warming it with a hot water bottle, dressing her up, dressing her down, putting one of mums singlets in with her etc etc etc. she is fine to settle but wakes constantly unless she is in ours arms. My wife has been forced to co-sleep to survive, which we never wanted to do

    My question is are swings safe from as early as 1-2 weeks old? I had a sister who died of cot death in a car seat so to see her little neck even slightly flexed as compared with lying on a flat cot mattress makes me nervous. We are borrowing a bright sparks travel swing but may buy a F&P papasan (quite hard to find in NZ!).

    I appreciate we may be being impatient, she is still so new but my wife had a nasty C-section, I am going back to a busy job soon, and we have no other people around us (plus an extremely active 2 year old girl). We are getting quite desperate and really don’t want to bed share any more, hoping the swing helps (it seems to be so far).

    Thanks so much


    • Ryan,
      2 week olds don’t sleep (at all) because they’re 2-week olds 😉

      I would definitely talk about the swing with your pediatrician. Most modern swings (like the F&P) are almost fully reclined and thus aren’t that far off from the crib. However very small babies (preemies, etc.) should be FULLY reclined. So run it by your pediatrician.

      It’s a hard call because co-sleeping with newborns generally carries some risk as well. So what you’re really looking for is what is the relative risk of co-sleeping a newborn vs. swing sleep. And sadly we have no science to answer that question so the answer is “I don’t know.”

      During the day you might have good luck with babywearing – it should help her sleep better and free up your hands to play with your 2 year old. In the evening you might want experiment with the swing in the earlier part of the night and see if it buys you longer stretches of sleep (it might or might not, hopefully yes?).

      If you’re comfortable co-sleeping I wouldn’t worry about forming sleep habits just yet. When she’s ~6 weeks you should see things start to get easier and 6-12 weeks is a great window to move towards the sleep environment you WANT vs. the one you currently HAVE.

      Newborns are rough, no doubt. But it won’t always be this hard. Good luck and tally ho!
      Alexis recently posted..The Monumental Guide to Short Naps AKA Everything You Need to Know to Vanquish Crap NapsMy Profile

  10. I’m wondering if any has tried the newer Graco gliders? They even make one with a bassinet that snaps in. I have a Graco swing from my first son, but the motor is definitely not working as well as it used to and I want to replace it before it goes completely. I tried getting a Fisher Price on Amazon that I thought was an old model, but of course when it was delivered it has “smart swing” right on the box. Super frustrating, but I guess it’ll have to go back.

  11. Hi Alexis!
    Love your site! Our 10 week old LOVES napping in his swing. He will nap in there for 3-5 hours every morning, which is great since I work 5am-1pm at home. However, he loves it so much that he wont nap anywhere else. We have tried putting him in the pack and play or his crib for nap and he wakes right up after a few minutes. This makes going anywhere really hard. when we visit with family we cant take the swing with us, for obvious reasons. Do you have any tips on how we can get him to nap other places? He ends up getting much less sleep than needed which leads to a very cranky baby in the evening.
    oh, and on a side note.. he has no trouble sleeping in his crib at night. he will sleep for at least 8 hours in his crib in one shot at night. its just a daytime thing…
    Thanks for your thoughts!

  12. I think no need to buy “smart swing” cause the normal we can use it easily and more safety cause my baby usually awake at mid-night and move a lots. Im scare that if we slept when the swing still ON baby could broke down and hurt. I’d like to take the normal than “smart swing”
    Georgina Wheeler recently posted..Best Ironing Board Reviews 2015My Profile

  13. Ok, looks like I’m not the only one with a Fisher Price Snuggle (Puppy, Bunny, Lamb, Whatever) swing or bouncer, so wondering if anyone else had this thought: all of these items seem to have a semi-free-floating pad shaped like an animal that you lay your baby on top of, but is that really safe for extended nighttime sleep? My new son is only three days old and is not interested in the bassinet but seems to love being a little more upright in his Snuggle Bunny Bouncer. I don’t even always turn it on, he just likes the angle. However, the thing has the adorable but dumb bunny ears on either side of his head and I wonder if that’s really safe. The pad itself is pretty fluffy and moves a bit when he does. Should I cut it off? Tack it down with a few stitches? Anyone else ever worry about this?


  1. Twins Week: sleep tips for multiples

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge