The Search for the Best Baby Swing
Looking for a baby swing that will soothe your little one? A great swing can be just the ticket to provide babies with a comfy, safe place simulating the motion and sounds of the womb to lull them from fussy to relaxed in minutes flat. We put five popular baby swings to the test on a daily basis over a three month period, from early infancy onward and throughout a variety of temperaments. We purposefully selected swings that widely vary in terms of style and amenities, mechanics and footprint to gain a sense of what consistently delivers on what matters most soothability. We rated each swing on soothing, ease of use, quality, and safety. Which baby swings performed the best in our review?
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
Analysis and Test Results
There is no doubt that babies prefer being held and need lots of soothing. If you are familiar with Dr Harvey Karp's Happiest Baby on the Block, you are at least somewhat aware of the 5 S's of Soothing a Fussy Baby: Swaddling, Side/Tummy, Shushing, Swinging, and Sucking.
Under this fussy baby circumstance, a baby swing can certainly fit the bill even better than a baby carrier as well as allow safe space for baby in a hands-free setting for parents to take on necessary tasks such as making dinner, folding laundry, or simply for personal time like taking a shower. Don't get us wrong, a great baby carrier is a golden investment as well (see our review Quest for the Best Baby Carrier), yet as each piece of gear should, it serves a separate function. A great baby swing soothes and comforts a fussy baby as well as keeps an alert baby both interested with visual and tactile features such as a mobile and mirror and relaxed with music or nature sounds until they are eventually lulled to sleep via rhythmic motion. Certainly, there is no replacement for a parent's arms, but all arms need a break! We highly recommend a baby swing from time to time for soothing while mom and dad get a few things done around the house.
Keep in mind that use of a baby swing is confined to that small early window of time from newborn to about 6-8 months and either sitting unassisted or crawling (depending upon the swing's recommendations) with a max weight of around 25 pounds. From here, unless a baby swing converts into a developmentally appropriate toddler-child seat like the Nuna Leaf, you will be storing it away for the next or passing it along.
Types of Baby Swings in Our Review
We reviewed four electric baby swings all either powered by AC adapter or batteries as well as one manual. While we preferred using the AC adapter, the battery feature is nice for situations when an electrical outlet isn't readily available. 3 of 4 swings use centrifugal motion of either front-to-back or side-to-side which we found superior for soothing baby. The 4moms Mamaroo was the only electric swing with a different kind of motion which in our experience didn't seem to be as effective in soothability. The Graco Duet Soothe is a 2-in-1 system that serves either as a centrifugal motion swing. The swing's seat, however, can be removed removed from the swing base and stand alone as a battery-operated vibrating bouncy seat/rocker.
While we so wanted to like the modern and sleek manual baby swing, the Nuna Leaf Curv, there was just no getting around the fact that a person within arm's reach of baby was necessary to keep the swing in motion pivoting on its base. In addition, the side-to-side pivoting movement it offers really doesn't hold a candle to the centrifugal movement of traditional baby swings.
Criteria for Evaluation
We focused upon four key metrics when comparatively testing these 5 baby swings: soothing, ease of use, quality, and safety. Our ratings are a combination of in-house lab testing and real world, everyday, in-use experience.
In our experience, the most successful baby swings were the ones that soothed a fussy baby the best. Thus, we felt it important to give the soothing metric very high weighting in our review at 70% of the overall score. We scrutinized a swing's movement, overall comfort for baby with regard to both positioning and materials, and accessories such as sounds, mobiles, and rattles in their ability to calm and occupy a fussy baby. The mechanical baby swings all offered soothing white noise sounds whether musical, mechanical, or nature-based. However, although parents may very well find their sound quality to be lacking, it typically is of such quality to work splendidly for their intended cranky rider.
Baby swings are great for two types of soothing: calm, awake soothing and nap time soothing.
Though swings are neither designed nor meant for prolonged baby sleep, the best ones can sure lull the crankiest baby to sleep, so it is always important to keep a close eye on them when sleeping and make sure baby's airway is positioned correctly for proper breathing.
In our testing, the Fisher-Price My Little Snugabunny (below, left) was the highest scoring in soothing with a 9 of 10. The added feature of a rotating mobile and catchy mirror ball really captured the attention of little testers while awake. Particularly when they are just learning to focus, the movement and reflection just above them gives babies ready entertainment and exploration. And, we found the addition of the bunny rattle perfect for little hands learning to grasp. In addition, this gem has both music for active daytime and evening lullaby time as well as natural sounds. Lastly, when turning on the swinging motion, the Fisher-Price gradually escalates to its set speed which we found very important in soothing.
The baby swing with the most vigorous motion, which was a clear benefit for some babies, was our Best Value award winner the Graco Comfy Cove DLX (above, right) which earned an 8 of 10 in soothing. A simple, light swing that is also fairly portable, the Graco Comfy Cove is one of our favorites that fits the bill for both soothing and the pocketbook.
We also found the 4moms MamaRoo to be a good baby swing for the awake baby as it has a high contrast mobile in both black-and-white and color. We also liked the MP3 accessory for introducing baby to musical variety and keeping him/her entertained while chilling out and found the quality of its speaker to be fairly impressive for a baby swing. Nonetheless, we found the Mamaroo to be lacking in lulling a crying baby to either calm or sleep as the motion settings are much slower and lacking in gravitational pull than the more traditional electric swings we reviewed. In addition, we noted a marked difference of the Mamaroo in how its motion starts which is jumping right into full-on action the second it starts. We found this to be quite jarring for little ones.
In comparison, soothing in the Nuna Leaf Curv proved to be a challenge, period. We felt it to be sorely missing an adjustable recline, centrifugal movement, and any interactive play component. Though it likely will appeal to those parents who seek a modern, attractive aesthetic, the Nuna just doesn't offer comparable soothing. As such, it received our lowest soothing score, 2 of 10. First of all, its movement is dependent upon someone consistently pushing the swing as its swing cycle will only last a few minutes tops. Unless provided, we found the awake baby to very consistently becoming frustrated with the swing's inconsistency in both motion and waxing and waning force. Secondly, we were also left disappointed in the Nuna's 3-point harness' fastening mechanism which is strong, loud velcro. With each rip of the velcro, any chilled out or slumbering baby is very likely to jolt to attention, as occurred repeatedly in our testing. Consequently, we feel the Nuna Leaf Curv it best suited for active play time with your little one and as a lounger for an older toddler/child who can move it on their own.
Ease of Use
In scoring ease of use, we looked at factors such as ease of getting baby in and out of the swing including fitting its harness as well as general swing operation, amenities, and portability. We found the motion and sound controls in each swing to be intuitive and simple with the exception of the timer button on the Graco Comfy Cove DLX which for most necessitates a quick manual read to operate appropriately.
The top scorer in Ease of Use, the Graco Duet Soothe earned an 8 of 10 for its versatility. Like the My Little Snugabunny, the Duet Soothe seat rotates to allow for both side-to-side and front-to-back swinging which can be huge for babies with either different soothing needs or those that respond to variety. The button for turning the seat can be pushed and rotated using one hand which we found convenient. We found the Duet Soothe to have an easy to operate 5-point harness (below left) and the added convenience of a removable, portable vibrating rocker seat (below center) which proved to come in handy. Lastly, we liked its controls situated at the very top of the swing (below right) for easy operator access.
The Fisher-Price My Little Snugabunny also scores well in ease of use with 7 of 10 for several reasons. With the highest seat, we find it much easier to place baby inside and get settled. Its 5-point harness which stay open nicely when lying baby down and then snaps together easily for securing baby. The rattle in between the baby's legs (below left) also helps in maneuvering the straps single handedly. It also has controls in a user-friendly location at the top of the swing in comparison to one of our lowest scorers in ease of use, the 4 moms Mamaroo with all controls inconveniently located at the swing's base.
Though in use for a short amount of time, the quality of a baby swing is important as it is likely to be a prime soothing tool and as such, will be used a significant amount. We compared each swing to each other in quality by looking closely at its overall materials, fit, and finish. We paid close attention to the texture and durability of swing and harness fabric as well as gave extra credit for such features like removable covers and machine washability. In terms of fit, if a swing was prone to making a creaking noise in operation, this was duly noted.
Baby Swings Have Moving Parts
Any electromechanical product with complex moving parts like baby swings will by default have a failure rate of more than 0% during its expected life cycle. Thus, if you peruse 1 to 2 star user reviews on Amazon for each of the baby swings in our review, you are likely to feel discouraged by citations of motor failures. Though we did not encounter any electromechanical issues with the 5 baby swings tested in our review, we sought to quantify each one's rate of breakage related to motor malfunction. The following percentages are the Amazon user review failure rates pertaining to the motor of the electromechanical swings in our review.
We also noted trends in user comments regarding a company's customer service in response to product failure. Amazon user reviews consistently report great customer service with both Fisher-Price and Graco when a problem was encountered. For instance, user reviews comment that Fisher-Price was prompt to send out a new motor or in some instances replace the entire swing. In general, changing out the motor did not seem to be a problem with the Fisher-Price. Unfortunately, user reviews trended toward major disappointment in 4moms's customer service for such an expensive, high-end product.
Every swing in our review is ASTM certified (American Society for Testing and Materials) for safety. As such, we minimized this particular weighting metric down to 5%. This by no means, however, should deflect from the importance of safety when using infant swings and we'd like to take this opportunity to highlight general safety recommendations.
It is important to keep in mind that infant swings in addition to car safety seats, strollers, infant carriers and infant slings should not be utilized for routine sleep as they can put infants in a position that places them at risk for airway obstruction and possible suffocation. Infants under 1 year of age should always be placed on their back to sleep and swaddling should be discontinued at 2 months of age which may be replaced with an infant sleep sack.
Though a baby swing is a piece of gear used in just a short period of time, it is well worth the investment to help get through the first half of baby's first year when soothing is at very high value. It can provide that "extra set of arms" that makes being at home alone with baby more manageable and can allow a parent some much needed hands free time for chores, a shower, or even just a relaxing cup of tea. While babies still need to be monitored closely while in a baby swing, their soothing nature can provide much needed peace of mind during a hectic and tiring but awesome time as a new parent with a little one.
— Dana Ganssle Ellis & BabyGearLab Review Team
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