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Your sister’s baby wanted nothing to do with swings. Your best friend’s newborn couldn’t calm down without one. So, do you need a baby swing?

As with many other “essential” registry items, the answer is pretty subjective. A swing can be a huge help and provide an additional set of hands during those tough witching hours — that is, if your baby likes one.

We say: It’s worth a try. Here’s the lowdown on a bunch of options to fit your needs, budget, and lifestyle. We’ll also give you some notes on swing safety, as well as things to look for while shopping on your own.

Dr. Harvey Karp, of Happiest Baby on the Block, explains that when a newborn gets cranky or difficult to calm, replicating the environment of the womb can be especially helpful. A swinging motion may help mimic the “jiggly” sensation of being inside mom’s tummy.

But swinging your baby in your arms for hours upon hours sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? That’s where mechanical swings come in. You can set your baby down, safely secure them into place, and let the swing do the heavy lifting.

Especially if your baby has colic that seems to calm with rhythmic motion, this can be a real game changer — suddenly you have time to make yourself a sandwich, start a load of laundry, or just sit down for a few minutes to gather your sanity.

It might be okay for your baby catch a quick snooze in the swing during the day. But be sure to make it a supervised catnap. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns against letting babies sleep in swings and other devices. Ideally, if your baby falls asleep in the swing, you’ll move them to a firm sleeping surface as soon as possible, per the AAP.

Swings come in all different shapes and sizes. They’re powered by either batteries or electrical current (sometimes both). And beyond that, they offer a variety of other features that may make your baby more comfortable and entertained. (Meaning, hopefully your days are a bit easier, too!)

The following swings meet current safety recommendations set forth by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Not only that, but they also earn high marks for quality, ease of use, and affordability. We also took into account customer reviews — good and bad — from people who’ve used these swings time and time again.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $100
  • $$ = $100–$149
  • $$$ = $150–$199
  • $$$$ = over $200

Best classic baby swing

Fisher-Price Sweet Snugapuppy Dreams Cradle ’n Swing

  • Weight range: Birth–25 lbs.
  • Power: Plug-in (AC adapter) or battery-powered up to 50 hours

Price: $$$

Key features: There’s a reason the Snugapuppy swing has been used for years. It features side-to-side or head-to-toe swinging motion, two recline positions, and six swinging speeds. There are two vibration settings and 16 different sounds to soothe and delight your baby while they look at the plush animal mobile. The infant insert is also super soft, snuggly, and machine washable.

Considerations: Some reviewers say that this swing is difficult to assemble. Others note that theirs didn’t have a whole lot of power or that the motor started failing when their little one started gaining more weight. And a few note that it’s too wide for small spaces.

Best baby swing for small spaces

Ingenuity Boutique Collection Swing ’n Go Portable Swing

  • Weight range: 6–20 lbs.
  • Power: 4 D batteries

Price: $$

Key features: Not sure if you have the real estate for a swing? The Ingenuity Swing ’n Go has a portable, low profile yet provides plenty of features. It has five swing speeds and boasts a “virtually noiseless” operation. This one also gets the highest marks for cuteness — this particular model is the company’s boutique version, so the fabrics are deluxe and plush.

Considerations: Some reviewers say the frame of the swing isn’t solid and that it poses a safety risk. Others say that different buttons and lock pins break with time, meaning there’s possibly a quality control issue. And a few people say that the battery power is nice, but that it’s not practical if you want to use this swing every day.

Best baby swing for colic

Graco Sense2Soothe Swing with Cry Detection Technology

  • Weight range: Birth–25 lbs.
  • Power: Plug-in (AC adapter)

Price: $$$$

Key features: If easing colic is your main objective, check out the Sense2Soothe. This high-tech baby swing can actually sense your baby’s crying (via microphone) and responds by adjusting the three swing settings to calm. Experts say that vibration can help with colic, and this swing has two vibration settings for soothing.

This swing also allows you to change the incline in three different positions so baby is comfortable and content. You can even play white noise, music, or nature sounds to help soothe cries and lull them to calmness. The seat also doubles as a portable rocker for flexibility.

Considerations: Some reviewers say that the advertised eight swinging motions are really not all that different from one another. Many customers say the cry detection works surprisingly well, but that the swing can be loud when changing between settings. Another common complaint is that the movements can be “jerky” or “robotic” versus smooth.

Best baby swing for reflux

4moms mamaRoo4 Infant Seat

  • Weight range: Birth–25 lbs.
  • Power: Plug-in (AC adapter)

Price: $$$$

Key features: Incline can be the name of the game for some babies when it comes to easing the symptoms of baby reflux. The mamaRoo4 offers a smooth-sliding recline adjustment that can go from relatively flat to upright (the manufacturer describes it as “infinite recline positions”). Its five swinging motions and speeds are themed: “car ride,” “kangaroo,” “tree swing,” “rock-a-bye,” and “wave.”

This swing is also Bluetooth-enabled, which means you can sync up your favorite tunes and even control the motion using your phone. Overall, customers like the smooth operation of this swing and its sleek design.

Considerations: This swing is popular and attractive but, like the Sense2Soothe, it’s also one of the most expensive on the market. Reviewers note that the pod chair is somewhat shallow, so it’s important to stop using it when baby can sit up independently. Many also complain that the audio isn’t great quality.

Best portable baby swing

Ingenuity Portable Swing

  • Weight: 6–20 lbs.
  • Power: 4 C batteries

Price: $

Key features: A swing may be your best friend if you have to travel with a fussy baby. This one is pretty basic and has a low price tag, which makes it a great option if you’re only planning to use it occasionally. It features six swing settings and folds easily to store away.

Reviewers refer to this swing as their “secret weapon” when it comes to getting baby to fall asleep. (Note, again, the AAP’s recommendation to move baby from swing to flat sleeping surface after baby heads off to snoozeland.) Others say that the battery life is impressive and that the swing comes together with no trouble at all.

Considerations: People who have tried this swing say that the music plays very loudly and doesn’t have a volume control. Others explain that the speed slows at times and struggles to pick back up. And several people say this swing is best suited for small babies, up to around 15 pounds.

Best double duty baby swing

Graco DuetSoothe Swing and Rocker

  • Weight range: 5.5–30 lbs. (swing), 5.5–25 lbs. (rocker)
  • Power: Plug-in (AC adapter) or 5 D batteries

Price: $$

Key features: The swing seat in the Graco DuetSoothe can be removed and used as a rocker, giving you additional options for entertaining your baby. The swing itself features side-to-side and front-to-back motion along with two vibration speeds. One reviewer says this swing is so impressively strong that one of its settings should be called “beast mode.”

Considerations: Many customers say that this swing either clicks or creaks when in motion. Others say it’s the motor that’s noisy. On the flip side, the nature noises and music are apparently not loud enough. And several reviewers say this swing is hard to put together.

Best budget-friendly baby swing

Graco Simple Sway Swing

  • Weight range: 5–30 lbs.
  • Power: Plug-in (AC adapter) or 5 D batteries

Price: $

Key features: Looking for a solid swing without the hefty price tag? The Graco Simple Sway comes in at less than $100. It has a compact frame that can fit through most doorways, moves from side to side with six speeds, and has two different vibration settings. There’s an included plush mobile for your baby to look at and 15 different songs to help soothe them to sleep.

Considerations: Reviewers share that this swing doesn’t offer much head support for the youngest infants and, in general, that the materials of the seat seem low quality. Others report it’s tough to put together and that the vibrations don’t work all that well. Some people also say that the knob used to control the swing speed can get caught between settings.

Most interesting baby swing combo

Primo 2-in-1 Smart Voyager Swing and High Chair

  • Age range: Birth–6 months (swing) and 6–36 months (high chair)
  • Power: Plug-in (AC adapter) or 4 AA batteries

Price: $$$$

Key features: While expensive, this swing and high chair combination is certainly one you don’t see every day. It offers eight swing speeds, four timer settings, five recline positions, and Bluetooth speakers. The high chair has six height levels, three tray positions, and three footrest positions. No, it won’t do the dishes for you.

Reviewers say the switch between swing and chair is intuitive. And one person shares that this swing has a nifty automatic rock-and-roll setting — when baby cries, it puts the swing on its lowest pace setting and plays music.

Considerations: While this swing isn’t widely reviewed, one person describes this combo as the “best invention ever.” And others say it’s easy to assemble and made from quality parts. But some people say that if you’re really wanting a solid swing, this one isn’t very strong. While it works as described, they say it best functions as a high chair.

Best manual baby swing

KidCo SwingPod Travel Swaddle Swing

  • Weight range: Birth–15 lbs.
  • Power : Manual

Price: $

Key features: Perhaps the most basic option of all is the KidCo SwingPod. It’s powered by… you! So, on the plus side, it requires no power or batteries and it won’t make loud motor noises (unless you huff and puff while swinging it).

The body of this pod is meant to combine both swinging and swaddling, with a special band that secures over your little one’s arms. If your baby falls asleep in the SwingPod, you may be more easily able to transition them to their crib for a snooze than if they’d been strapped in a typical swing. (They shouldn’t sleep in the swaddle.) One mom said it’s “literally a must-have purchase for babies with colic!”

Considerations: Obviously, you’ll need to take a lot of care when using a device like this. Pay attention to the weight limit and your own physical limitations. This device is meant for the youngest babies, so it won’t last too long (but the price tag isn’t too high).

Above any other bells and whistles, you should look for a swing that abides by current safety regulations. Here are some things to think about while shopping for a swing:

  • Look at the weight range. Some swings are best suited for smaller babies while others have options that may work and transition with older babes. Others will also take into consideration age and mobility like being able to sit unassisted.
  • Note how the swing is powered. There are swings that run exclusively on batteries or plug-in power — or a combination of the two. To choose what is best for you, consider where you plan to use the swing most (in one room or on the go).
  • Evaluate other features based on needs and wants. You can get a basic swing for $50 to $100, but if you want features like vibration, multi-direction motion, sensory objects, cry-sensing technology, and a boutique look, you’ll likely pay a bit more.
  • Think about your space. Do you have room for a traditional swing? Would it be better to get a small one that stows away? Try to visit the store if you can to get a sense of size. Or at very least look at the dimensions and space-saving options, like folding.
  • Try before you buy. If you have a friend willing to let you borrow her swing, try one out. Just make sure it’s not damaged and doesn’t have any safety recalls.

Swings and bouncers are similar — some swings even have the option to remove the seat from the frame and transform into a bouncer. But these two products actually perform different functions. Here’s how they’re similar and different:

Related: Best baby bouncers for all budgets in 2020

  • Follow all manufacturer instructions (age and weight limits) when using your swing.
  • Use a swing’s most fully reclined position for babies under 4 months.
  • Never leave your baby unattended in a swing.
  • Always use the safety straps/harness included with the swing.
  • Examine other parts for damage and replace if necessary before operation.
  • Don’t put portable swings or rockers on elevated surfaces, like on tables, beds, or couch cushions.
  • Don’t let siblings push or play with the swing when baby’s inside.
  • Remove your baby from the swing before moving it to another location.
  • Don’t allow your baby to sleep in a swing. If they fall asleep in their swing, move them to a safe sleep surface as soon as possible.

You won’t know if your baby will like a swing until you try one out. All babies are different, so it makes sense that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to calming.

At the same time, a swing may just be the miracle solution you need to get through those relentless newborn days.

At very least, a swing may give you time to grab a cup of coffee and catch your breath — that alone is something any new parent will tell you is totally worth making room for a clunky baby contraption.