As soon as you get your little one down to the swing, you get to relax and have some alone time. That’s the life we all dream of as parents.
However, your baby shouldn’t be staying too long in the swing. Because, like it or not, this sitting device can get unsafe for your little one quickly.
So, let’s get to answering the question, “How long can a baby use a swing?”
Is It Safe To Let My Baby Sleep In A Swing?
You should never let your little one stay asleep in a swing especially not during the first 4 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends safe sleeping stations to be cribs, bassinets, and play yards.
So, it is not safe for your little one to stay asleep in a swing. That’s because the position of the swing doesn’t promote your little one’s development.
Swings are typically in a reclined position and having your baby in such a position for long periods can lead to suffocation. This is because of the underdeveloped neck muscles of the child, making it difficult to hold their head up.
According to a 10-year study by the AAP, about 348 or 3% out of 12,000 infant deaths were caused by a sitting device—car seats, swings, strollers and bouncers. So, with that in mind, you shouldn’t be leaving your little one to sleep in a swing.
If you notice your little one fall asleep in their swing, carefully transfer them into their crib or bassinet, making sure to lay them on their back.
How Long Should My Baby Stay On A Swing?
I used to leave my baby in a swing for as long as 1 hour at a go and 3 hours per day. However, when I found out the dangers, I limited the time on the swing by a huge mile.
Sure, swings work to distract your little one very well but in reality, your baby could be doing much more important things with their time. Like tummy time or cuddling with you.
To answer the question, your baby shouldn’t spend more than 1 hour on the swing each day. And that hour should be divided into two-time chunks of 30 minutes.
I know it can be tempting to leave your baby on the swing for long because it calms your child down and gives you some rest time. But you just have to fight that temptation as your baby’s wellbeing should be first and foremost.
When Should My Baby Stop Using A Swing?
You read right, safe swing usage doesn’t end with limiting your baby’s failing usage. You’ve got to know when it’s safe to stop using it as well.
I would suggest you follow the age and weight limit of the manufacturer as there are no general limits to follow for baby swings. Each manufacturer sets the limits according to the construction of the swing.
Still, most swings have their limits set between 20 to 40 pounds so your little one can easily continue using the swing as a toddler (supposing they weigh according to the limit). Manufacturers are not particular about age in many cases.
Another time when you may need to quit the swing is when your little one starts getting tired of it. This happened with my little girl, she showed little to no interest in the swing, to begin with. If they are bored and not thrilled by the swing, do take them out and don’t try to force it.
Again, you may need to stop using a swing as soon as your baby can or tries to climb out. That poses a much greater risk as the swing could tip over, resulting in an accident. So, quit the baby swing at the right time.
Risk Of Using A Swing For Too Long
You’ve already guessed it, swings need to be used for short periods because of nothing other than the risks it poses to your baby’s wellbeing.
- Sleeping in a swing which is a sitting position is unsafe for your little one. And that’s because, as I earlier mentioned, their neck muscles aren’t properly developed.
- Sitting in an upright position can cause the weight of your little one’s head to put pressure on their neck and cause them to slump over. Now, that’s what leads to suffocation. Your baby should never sleep in a swing.
- Leaving your baby in a swing for too long can cause them to develop the flat head syndrome, also called Plagiocephaly. It causes the back of the baby’s head to appear flat.
- I earlier mentioned that your baby needs time to do important things. I mean activities that build coordination, strength, and movement skills.
- This is best done on flat surfaces where they can practice physical activities. Activities that can’t be done while in a baby swing.
- Gross motor skills like rolling, crawling, standing, or walking may be affected if you leave your baby in a swing for too long. Their development could be negatively affected in this scenario.
- If you utilize a baby swing as a sleep aid too often your baby could get reliant on it. If they sleep fine without it, then you don’t have to worry but if they don’t, it can be a real problem.
Baby Swing Safety Tips
First and foremost, don’t leave your baby in their swing unsupervised. Regardless of whether you’re trying to get some free time for yourself, always keep the swing, with your little one in it, within sight.
- Lots of swings have motion settings with different speeds. You don’t want to upset or overstimulate your little one, so I suggest you start with the slowest setting before increasing speed if need be. Also, try not to push your baby to swing yourself.
- There are already a few risks associated with using a swing wrongly, so try your best to keep the swing on a level flat surface. No matter how small it is, refrain from using it in elevated places like the table or counter.
- As I earlier mentioned, limit swinging time to just 1 hour daily and not more than 30 minutes for each session. Using it for longer can get your baby feeling dizzy.
- If you as the parent or caregiver start getting drowsy or sleepy, it’s best to turn off and put the swing away. Maybe put your little one down for a nap in their crib or bassinet as well.
- I’ve said this so many times already, prevent your little one from sleeping in their swing. I’m sure you already know how unsafe it is. Your best bet is to take them to a safe sleeping place as soon as they are about to fall asleep.
- As soon as your baby has passed the age or weight limit, can climb out, or is bored of the swing, it’s time to stop using it. You shouldn’t continue with a swing when your baby has exceeded the weight limit, it’s important for your little one’s safety.
Safety Features To Look Out For In A Baby Swing
I would suggest you check for any recalls before you go on to purchase your baby swing. And afterward, look out for these features as they promote your baby’s safety while using the swing.
- Reclining seat: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a swing that features a reclining seat. At the very least to reduce the pressure on their neck. If your little one is less than 4 months old, make sure to use the lowest reclining position.
- A wide and sturdy base: Next you want to ensure that the base holding this seat, is wide and very sturdy. The Consumer Product Safety Commission now requires mandatory testing of these swings to ensure they won’t tip over or accidentally fold.
- Safety Harness: Just as you’d use a seat belt in the car, you need to always buckle the safety harness in your baby’s swing. The harness ensures your little one remains secure in their seat whether the swing is in motion or your baby shifts slightly.
- Toys and mobiles: Any toy, or entertaining element in the swing should be totally secure. Ensure that it is not detachable as it can pose a risk to your little one if they can take it out.
- In addition, avoid purchasing a swing with light projectors as it could easily overstimulate your baby while using the swing.
- Weight Limits: Check that the manual or instructions of the baby swing clearly states the weight and age limits. Also, register with the manufacturer to be updated in case of any future recalls.
Baby swings can certainly be a baby and parent’s best friend but that’s if and when it is used properly. As long as you limit your baby’s time in a swing and prevent sleeping in it, the swing will work wonders go you!
Have you ever used a swing for too long a time before? If yes, I hope you’ve learned a thing or two from this article. Leave your thoughts in the comment section.
- Rachel Y. Moon, MD, FAAP, (2022, July 14). Healthy Children. How To Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/A-Parents-Guide-to-Safe-Sleep.aspx
- American Academy of Pediatrics, (2019, July 1). Infant Deaths in Sitting Devices https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/144/1/e20182576/37087/Infant-Deaths-in-Sitting-Devices
- Trisha Korioth, (2013). AAP News. Safe and Sound: Tips For Using Infant Swings https://publications.aap.org/aapnews/article/34/1/25/24388/Safe-and-sound-tips-for-using-infant-swings
- United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Infant Swings Business Guidance & Small Entity Compliance Guide https://www.cpsc.gov/Business–Manufacturing/Business-Education/Business-Guidance/Infant-Swings