Swings and related products are undeniably terrific tools to soothe a fussy baby or keep one content while necessary household chores are completed. And they can be a lifeline when the baby just doesn’t seem to want to call asleep.
But all are not created equal. Some indeed swing, but others rock. Some bounce and some vibrate. Others do a combination of things.
They are made by many different manufacturers in a number of countries. They look different. Some are safer and better-made than others. Some are big brand names, and others come from makers you’ve barely heard of. And, to make your choice even more befuddling, prices are all over the map.
Below are some hints and tips for baby-swing shoppers:
First, be aware of what the product actually does. A swing will rock the baby from to back or side to side. A vibrating bouncer will gently and steadily soothe. Some “convertible” products offer an array of movements. This gives you alternatives, allowing you to find the motion that best satisfied the needs of your child.
As you shop, here are some things to look for:
- The wider and more durable the base, the better. A wide base cuts down on the chance of the product tipping over with baby in it.
- Think about restraints. A five-point type restraint is generally considered to be safer than the three-point variety because it does a better job of securing the upper torso.
- This will not come as news to parents, but babies are inherently messy. Look for a product whose cushions and coverings are easy to remove and can be safely tossed into the family washing machine.
- Some swings operate on AC power (with or without an adaptor), and others use four or more “C” or “D” cell batteries. Yet others utilize a combination of batteries and AC. Battery power is more convenient, of course, but it’s usually more costly. Pick the power setup that fits your needs and pocketbook the best. If you’re going the battery route, consider opting for rechargeable if the product permits this.
- Beyond the basics, many products offer a selection of fun-time tunes and “nature” or animal sounds to amuse the baby. The presence or absence of these isn’t a deal-breaker, but many babies love them. Make sure they can be turned on or off and that there’s a volume control. A timer for the sounds and music is another nice feature.
- Many, if not most, swings, rockers, etc., feature toy bars and mobiles that allow for interactivity. These should be removable, and they should pivot easily when getting the baby in or out.
- Adjustments are important. The better swings offer a nice menu of speed modes for rocking, swinging, and vibrating. One speed can’t possibly fit all, and you’ll quickly learn that babies have their preferences.
- Parents who are short on space at home might opt for a unit that easily folds up, preferably as flat as possible. This also is ideal for transporting the unit from place to place.
- Check here http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls to see if the product that you’re considering has been recalled. Just because it’s for sale online or available on a store shelf DOES NOT MEAN that it hasn’t been recalled!
- Ask friends and family. Many parents just head out to the store and don’t avail themselves of personal recommendations.
- Buy new, not used. Second-hand merchandise can be a bargain on many fronts, but it should be avoided when it comes to baby products. There is nothing more important than the safety of your baby, and buying brand new gives you the peace of mind of knowing that the product is safe.
- Check the warranty, and go the extra mile and actually read the fine print. Most major manufacturers warrant these products for one year. But check out the terms and limitations for making a claim. With the big names, you can be confident that they’ll be around to stand by their product if something goes wrong.
- Lastly, read consumer reviews. Parents and kids magazines are fine, but when they review products, they often give favorable reports in exchange for advertising. Websites like Amazon and those of department stores and other retailers give actual buyers the chance to rate products. Also, look online for blogger moms who specialize in in-depth reviews of baby goods.