In many aspects, the Best Baby Swings are one the greatest tools in a new parent’s arsenal and can help you maintain a little bit of normality in the early stages of new parenthood. Most babies will go through a stage where they want to be held and rocked and you can’t spend every waking minute swinging, bouncing, and calming your baby.
Baby swings can give your arms and back a little break and a needed rest or allow you to make yourself a sandwich and a cup of tea.
As great as they are they have received some criticism over the safety of them for young children.
Like with almost everything, nothing is 100% safe but with the correct supervision, usage only when the baby is awake and properly strapping them in you can swing, risk-free.
What dangers do swings pose?
The biggest danger you can face with baby swings is when your baby falls asleep inside one.
I for one am guilty of letting my daughter sleep in her swing when she little and I was completely oblivious to the dangers of it at the time and it’s not just baby swings you shouldn’t let your baby sleep in.
You shouldn’t let your baby regularly sleep in their car seat, baby bouncer, pram, or anything else where they could get a restricted airway. During the first year of your baby’s life, you should only let them sleep flat on their backs on a flat, firm, and breathable surface.
The AAP (American Academy of Paediatrics) state that it’s unsafe to let your baby sleep in and type of infant seat for long periods of time.
You can of course allow your baby to sleep in their car seat, pram of swing/bouncer but once they are asleep and if possible, move them to their cot or cot bed.
As a baby that uses a baby swing is likely unable to lift their own head, so the risk is that when they are asleep or unsupervised in an upright position, their head falls forward and cuts off their airway, resulting in accidental suffocation.
What the research says
Most of you will just assume that baby swings are safe, they wouldn’t sell them if they weren’t, right? I thoughts the same and didn’t even give it a second thought to them potentially being a death trap for my baby.
Most have you wouldn’t have even heard about an incident involving a baby swing but would have heard or seen someone utilising them for naps during the day and even at night sometimes.
But for us to even be talking about ‘are baby swings safe?’ then there must be enough evidence to suggest they aren’t. The AAP again conducted and publish a report that looked into infant deaths over a 10-year period which resulted in around 35 babies per year due to sleeping in infant sitting products (Baby swings, car seats, bouncers, prams etc).
The 10-year study covered nearly 12000 infant, sleep-related deaths and it showered that 3% of these babies died in a sitting device. The majority of which were in car seats and more than 90% of the time the car seats were not being used as directed.
This is only US-based research, so there would be a higher amount when taking into consideration the UK and the rest of the world. The UK has around 250 unexplained infant deaths per year.
Other Risks when using an infant swing
It isn’t just the worst case scenario that you need to worry about when using a baby swing and they can cause a few other issues that you might not think about if used incorrectly.
A company called Kids in Danger have noted some of the risks associated with using a baby swing and on top of strangulation they have stated that falls are another large example of injury whilst using a baby swing.
Some of the ways that a baby swing can cause injury is by the handle breaking, children push themselves up and over the seat and falling, the straps becoming unfastened, (this can lead to suffocation), and screws loosening and the seat falls.
You should also check to make sure that your baby swing isn’t on a recall list, especially if buying second-hand.
If you let your baby stay in any form of baby carrier for a long period of time then you increase the chance of them developing a flat head.
For further information on baby swing safety, check out Consumer Reports report on baby swing safety.
Good Advice for Safely Swinging
Before you think that baby swings are death traps, and you should outright avoid them you should know that this just isn’t the case and when used correctly and supervised they are completely safe.
Tips for using a baby swing safely
1. Never let your baby sleep in their swing. If they drop off, then move them to their cot or a suitable flat surface.
2. If. You babies is younger than 4 months then always have your swing on the most reclined position, this reduces the likelihood of suffocation.
3. Always place your baby swing on level ground, this means it can’t easily tip over and will also swing better.
4. Use the swing within the recommended weight suggestions from the manufacturer and you shouldn’t really use them once your baby has learned to roll over.
5. The seat should be comfy but don’t put anything underneath your baby that wasn’t supplied by the manufacturer.
Placing a blanket under your baby might make it comfier but can also mean the straps are looser if the blanket moves to make the swing unsafe.
6. Make sure the baby swing you choose has a harness, 5 points are safer than 3 points.
7. Don’t use a toy mobile unless it’s manufacturer approved as it could be easy to remove and cause harm to your baby.
8. Don’t overuse the swing and be sure to allow your baby tummy time 2-3 times a day to help grow their muscles.
It’s important to understand that as a product, a baby swing isn’t dangerous. It’s all about how the baby swing is used and making sure you properly supervise.
Check your swing before and after use to make sure there are no broken parts or the dog has chewed it! Read and listen to the safety tips and you should be good to go.