All new moms know how precious and coveted sleep is with a newborn. New moms also have been taught the ABCs of safe sleep: alone, on my back, and in my crib. But newborns usually have an entirely different concept of sleep. They wake frequently and at all hours of the day and night.
They often want to be held, or rocked, or swayed into slumber. At three am you wonder whoever thought a baby would like sleeping on a rock hard mattress alone in their crib? Does anyone’s baby actually even sleep that way for more than three minutes?!
So when your little one seems to despise their crib with a burning passion, and you are so desperate for just a little bit of sleep, you may ask, is it safe for a baby to sleep in their swing?
Baby stores and outlets are full of soothing baby devices. You can find everything from the best swings and bouncers, to Bluetooth connected bassinets that vibrate and sway. Unfortunately, even though these items may market themselves as safe for infant sleep, that is not always the case for baby sleeping in swing. In fact, recently one popular baby manufacturer recalled thirty-thousand swings because of the possibility that they could cause infant injury or death.
Many baby swings or rockers do not meet safe sleep guidelines set forth by pediatricians and experts. Though there are many available on the market, their safety has recently been called into question and they are beginning to be evaluated more closely. Doctors would advise against baby sleeping in swing and recent news reports have even attributed some devices to infant deaths.
While baby swings may not be the most ideal place for your little one to sleep in, these devices often calm down distressed infants quickly – babies tend to enjoy a lot of movement and the swinging motion easily lulls them to sleep. In some instances, parents may come to find that it seems their baby only sleeps in swing so it is alright to use a baby swing as long as usage is under parental supervision.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) defines safe sleep as “the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet”. No pillows, toys, blankets, or crib bumpers should be present. Additionally, the baby crib should be in the parent’s room for at least the first six months. This is because babies can be susceptible to SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, as well as accidental suffocation or strangulation.
It is important to keep your little one sleeping on their back until at least their first birthday. However, babies can begin learning how to roll as early as four months. Though usually you don’t have to keep turning your baby back to his back throughout the night, if they roll on their own to their stomach during sleep experts advise they will likely be alright. If your little one does prefer sleeping on their stomach this only increases the importance of a tight-fitting sheet and no loose blankets, pillows, or toys.
In addition, the tight-fitting sheet should be over a firm surface such as a baby mattress. This surface usually would be considered hard by adults and certainly not what we would consider comfortable sleeping conditions. The mattress, whether it be in a crib, bassinet, or pack-and-play should not indent when your baby lays on it.
Most pediatricians firmly believe that the crib is the safest place for your baby to sleep rather than having a baby sleeping in swing or any other place. And as you can see, baby swings don’t really meet the safe sleep recommendations.
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So Is It Safe For Baby to Sleep In Swing?
The answer is yes and no and really depends on the duration of sleep. Safe sleep as defined above is vital for overnight sleep times, and while most doctors would agree it applies to nap time as well, parents tend to relax the rules a little.
Baby swings can be lifesavers if you have a colicky or fussy infant. The motorized seats rock them to dreamland while you can enjoy a few moments of silence. Whereas carrying your baby in a baby carrier provides them with a soothing motion, it can be difficult and painful to wear a baby 24/7. Their ability to calm a child sans parents contributes to their popularity, but having your baby sleeping in swing can also pose hazards.
Infant deaths have been reported by manufacturers of popular baby swings. These are mostly due to suffocation either because of the plush seat impairing breathing or the awkward angle at which an infant’s head and neck may rest. Long periods of sitting upright can also make breathing hard. All of these mentioned factors may lead to SIDS.
The bottom line is that it can be dangerous to leave your baby sleeping in swing, however, as long as you use the baby swing properly for your baby and know the risks that come along with it, it is still a good baby item to have.
However, babies inevitably fall asleep in places other than their crib. Just think about traveling in a car. Babies fall asleep in the car seat quite often, but there are a few key differences. Babies are not left to sleep overnight in their car seat and they are usually being monitored during this time. There are similar caveats with a baby sleeping in swing.
If you are letting baby sleep in swing you must monitor them. Additionally, you must follow all the manufacturer’s recommendations and use all safety mechanisms provided. This means any straps or seatbelts must be secured every time. Furthermore, most manufacturers recommend against prolonged sleep in an infant swing.
When your baby falls asleep in the baby swing even if it’s Bluetooth enabled, you should transfer them to their crib. Because swings are usually plush and inclined, a baby may be easily able to roll and block their own airway. The forward tilt of their head may also compress their airway. A newborn sleeping in swing might be particularly at risk of this due to their poor head and neck control. Swings also don’t provide proper support for your baby’s body. They can create an improper position for their developing hips and back. For these reasons, experts advise against leaving growing infants in baby swings for long periods of time.
Sadly, suffocation can occur silently and rapidly. Though parents desperately want to soothe their infants, and swings usually do the trick, it is scary to know that they can be responsible for infant deaths.
Is it ok to let baby sleep in swing? When deciding on that, you should be cognizant of the risks and know that it is never okay to keep your baby sleeping in swing overnight. This is because when in a swing or rocker little ones should be constantly monitored.
Even during naps in the daytime, you should keep the baby swing near you. A little one should not be left unsupervised in the swing even if they are only napping. This means that it isn’t advised to go and work or complete chores in another room with your baby sleeping in swing somewhere else.
Pediatricians highly recommend transferring a sleeping baby from the device to their crib; not only for safety but to establish healthy sleep routines.
Besides safety, which is arguably the most important, having baby sleeping in swing can set your little one up for future sleep issues. The routine of frequently falling asleep in the swing can create a poor habit of them needing the swinging or rocking motion to fall asleep. This can become a problem if nap time arrives and the swing is not available. Furthermore, babies need to learn to self-soothe and eventually put themselves to sleep. Beginning at around six months babies begin to make sleep associations.
This is particularly important if your baby wakes up during the night. It is much better to have your little one be able to soothe themself back to sleep instead of needing assistance. If your baby only recalls falling asleep in the swing they may rely on the swing to put them back to sleep at night, and while putting your baby in the swing at 7 pm is no problem, 3 am is a different story.
By having your baby sleep in the crib and more often than not fall asleep in their crib you are setting them up for a healthy relationship with sleep for the future.
Swings, like many other baby products, usually come with user manuals and warning tags. For baby sleeping in swing to be as safe as it possibly can be you must follow all manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations. You should always use the restraint system if there’s one, such as straps, belts, or clips. The swing must be used on a flat sturdy surface and never near stairs or anywhere it could fall. Additionally, you shouldn’t modify the swing in any way.
Producers of baby swings often set weight, height, and age limits concerning who can use their products. In the case of baby swings, many accommodate newborns. It is often older and larger children who may outgrow the infant swing as there is typically maximum height and weight limits.
Still, newborns may be prone to sleep dangers in swings because of their lack of head and neck control and inability to realize when their airway is being blocked.
When you purchase a baby swing new you can usually be pretty certain it has not been modified or tampered with. Baby swings and rockers are often not cheap, and while it may be tempting to purchase one used, it is not advisable.
Buying second-hand clothes or receiving hand-me-down toys from a cousin is usually okay, but second-hand baby swings are another story. You cannot verify their history. You often are not able to be sure that they don’t have missing or broken parts or haven’t been modified.
Furthermore, standards and guidelines concerning baby products frequently change. Therefore, you can’t be certain that the swing wasn’t recalled or isn’t expired. It is best to buy a new baby swing for your little one. A new swing will at least provide you some modicum of safety as it likely aligns with the most recent baby product guidelines.
Ultimately, the absolute safest place for your sleeping baby is in their crib. They should be on a firm mattress with a tight-fitting sheet with no blankets, pillows, toys, or bumpers present. Infant devices, including rockers, swings, and seats may imply that they are safe for sleep but this is typically misleading. Swings are likely okay to lull your baby to sleep or soothe them if they are fussy, but as soon as they are asleep you should transfer them to their crib.
- Purchase the swing or device new instead of using secondhand products
- Read and follow all warning labels and manufacturers instructions
- Constantly monitor your little one while they are in the swing
- Be sure to use any included restraints or safety mechanisms
- Don’t modify the swing in any manner
- As soon as your baby is asleep transfer them to their crib
- Don’t let your little one sleep in the swing for prolonged periods and certainly not overnight
Any parent can attest to the fact that we often want to do whatever we can to soothe our little ones, whether it is to give them a safe space to play in baby playpens or depend on moving devices such as baby swings and rockers. Baby swings do an excellent job of soothing fussy infants. Sometimes too good of a job, and it may be tempting to leave your sleeping angel in their swing. However, swings are not a safe place for a sleeping baby.
There are too many dangers with a swing, such as plush padding and inclined surfaces. The crib is the safest place for your baby to sleep. And while you can calm your baby sleeping in swing, as soon as they are asleep you should transfer them to their crib. This will create safe and healthy sleep habits for everyone and hopefully lead to a happy, well-rested child.
Of course, if you are ever looking for a baby swing as a momentary napping place for your little one just to aid them with their sleep, you can check out our article on Best Baby Swing for Sleeping.