Searching for the best swing to soothe baby? The right swing can what your little one needs, providing a safe and comfortable place to lull them from fussy to relaxed in minutes flat. We selected five of the most popular baby swings on the market and tested them out over a three month period with babies in early infancy and on. We discovered which were the best at simulating the motion and sounds of the womb and soothing baby throughout a variety of temperaments. We intentionally chose a wide variety of swings in order to explore the differences of style, footprint, amenities, and mechanics in order to better understand what features consistently achieve the most important quality…soothability. We individually rated every swing on different metrics such as ease of use, soothing, quality, and safety. Find out which swings were our favorites and discover the one that's perfect for you.
The Search for the Best Baby Swing
Test Results and Ratings
Analysis and Award Winners
The Graco Comfy Cove DLX is no longer available. The Graco Cozy Duet Swing + Rocker is another swing made by Graco that we recommend as a replacement for the Comfy Cove.
Best Overall Baby Swing
Fisher-Price My Little Snugabunny
Read review: Fisher-Price My Little Snugabunny
Best Bang for the Buck
Graco Comfy Cove DLX
taking a look at the Cozy Duet Swing + Rocker in place of the Comfy Cove.
Read review: Graco Comfy Cove DLX
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.
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.
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.
- Fisher-Price My Little Snugabunny — 8%
- Graco Comfy Cove DLX — 38%. This is a small sample-size, however, with 3 of 8 user reviews.
- Graco Duet Soothe — 8%
- 4moms Mamaroo — 5%
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.
- Adequate Recline — An infant less than 4 months does not have adequate head and neck control. Thus, any seat back they are lying on needs to be horizontal enough to prevent slumping over, typically less than 45-60 degrees from horizontal. Anything greater than 50 degrees should have shoulder restraints (aka a 5-point harness). All of the swings in our test with seat backs in full upright position measured at less than 50 degrees from horizontal.
- Stable Base — A swing must have a wide, stable base which prevents it from tipping over or collapsing.
- Harness — As with any infant seat such as a car seat, high chair, or baby swing, a harness is an important piece of protection for baby. We prefer swings that provide a 5-point over a 3-point harness as they serve to restrain the upper torso in addition to the lower body. They can also be helpful in preventing baby from sliding downward in a shallow seat and slumping. As such, infant swings with 5-point harnesses received better scores. Kudos goes to the Fisher-Price My Little Snugabunny, Graco Duet Soothe and the Graco Comfy Cove for all having 5-point harnesses. We found the Snugabunny and Duet Soothe harnesses to be easier than those of the Comfy Cove because of heftier straps making it easier to lay them out in a star-like position to be at the ready before placing baby inside. Our peeve surrounding the Graco Comfy Cove's harness lies in the thin crotch and strap pads that simply got in the way of the harness adjustments and connections. However, if you remove the pads, then the straps are not heavy enough to lay easily open for baby's entry.
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.
- Swings and Sleep — Although infant swings are fantastic tool for soothing an infant, particularly in their fourth trimester, they are not meant for sleep. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against using infant swings for sleeping babies. However, they sooth so well that infants often fall asleep in them. What to do? If an infant falls asleep in an carrying device such as a swing, bouncer, car seat, or carrier, they should be taken out as soon as possible and laid down to sleep on a firm surface on their back. While this advice is easy to say, it can be hard to do, particularly if you are exhausted yourself and/or your baby doesn't tend to transition well. Take home point, however, is to always monitor your infant closely while they in a baby swing. In addition, limiting the amount of awake time an infant has in a baby swing, car seat or any such device in which they are prone on their backs in a fixed position will aid in prevention of positional plagiocephaly. Tummy time, anyone?
- Following Age and Weight Limits — Baby swings today have very clear parameters for age and weight usage. The swings we reviewed have age ranges of around 6-8 months, typically when baby either is sitting upright unassisted or crawling. A 3-point versus 5-point harness does matter here as a baby who can sit up unassisted but is laying in well-secured 5-point harness isn't likely to houdini themselves out. However a crawling baby in a 3-point harness swing is asking for imminent disaster. Similarly, following the weight limits of the swing is very important as they are simply not designed to hold more. The swings in our review have weight limits of 25-30 pounds.
- Adjusting Swing Strength as Baby Gains Weight — With a small, light newborn, it is advisable to begin with baby at the swing's the lowest power setting as this may be adequate for soothing. Higher swing settings at such a low weight may be too vigorous. You will notice that as baby gains weight, swing strength will need adjustment upwards.
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.
Still not sure? Take a look at our buying advice article for more info.