Product Reviews More gear!
You can’t talk to new parents without hearing the heated debate on swings, those battery-operated surrogate parents. Some think they’re a godsend, soothing a fussy baby when nothing else seems to work. Cynics refer to them as “neglect-o-matics,” sinister devices that can become far too addictive for a society that thinks parenting is like a microwave meal—the quicker, the better. Whatever side you come down on, we do have a few shopping tips. Below is our buying advice and brand recommendations.
Swings today come in three flavors: full-size, compact or travel. As you might guess, the latter category folds up for easy transport. Each work fine—if you have the space, go for a full-size model. If not, try a compact or travel version.
Who makes the best swings? Here are our picks:
Good. Comfort & Harmony Cozy Kingdom Portable Swing ($55) is a six-speed portable swing with removable head support. EVen though this swing is portable, it lacks a carry handle (doh!). Comfort & Harmony is part of the Kids II brand empire. Since this swing folds away, it is a good bet for grandma's house.
Better. Graco’s most popular swing is the Glider LX Gliding Swing ($125). With six gliding speeds, two vibration settings and music and sounds, this swing used up less space in your home. Great option for folks with limited square footage.
Best. Fisher-Price has the cradle swing down to a science. The Snugabunny Cradle 'n Swing ($150, pictured) allows for both side-to-side and front-back motion, three seat positions and a plush seat. There are six speeds, eight musical tunes and two-position seat recline. FYI: Fisher Price makes many different versions of its cradle swing in prices that range from $100 to $160— the difference is typically fashion and toys. For example, the Papasan Cradle Swing ($119) is a reader favorite.
First, ALWAYS try a swing before you buy. Give it a whirl in the store or borrow one from a friend. Why? Some babies love swings. Others hate ‘em. Don’t spend $120 on a fancy swing only to discover your little one is a swing-hater.
When we last wrote on the topic of swings, you still had a choice between wind-up swings and battery-operated models. While you may still find some wind-up models at garage sales or on eBay, most swings sold in stores are battery-operated. On Craigslist, we’ve seen wind-up swings for as little as $20. Of course, check with the CPSC (cpsc.gov) to make sure a used swing hasn’t been recalled. Good news: many swings now also include an AC adapter so you can plug the swing into a wall outlet. This saves tremendously on batteries. Fisher-Price has several options with adapters.
If you are in the market for a new swing, remember this rule: swings eat batteries faster than toddlers can scarf M&M’s. Look for swings that use fewer batteries—some use as little as two or three (others up to four).
Swings range in price from $50 to $140. The more money you spend the more bells and whistles you get—toys, musics, etc.
Remember to observe safety warnings about swings, which are close to the top ten most dangerous products, as far as injuries go. You must always stay with your baby, use the safety belt, and stop using the swing once your baby reaches the weight limit (about 25 lbs. in most cases). Always remember that a swing is not a baby-sitter.
Click the "Recommended" tab for our top picks for swings.
A EXCELLENT-our top pick!
B GOOD-above average quality, prices, and creativity.
C FAIR-could stand some improvement.
D POOR-yuck! Could stand some major improvement.