Here’s a piece of gear most parents are very familiar with: the infant swing. Do you have one of these? If so, then you know first-hand how nice it can be to settle your baby snugly into his swing, turn it on, and then walk away as your little one is gently rocked to sleep. Win!
Of course, your baby may not be a fan of the swing; not every baby is! But if you have a swing-lover at home, chances are you’ve put your baby in the swing for naps at least a few times. Naps tend to be fussier times of the day for infants, after all, and many parents reach a point at which they’re willing to try anything to make naps easier.
Enter the swing.
But is this a good idea? Should you let your baby take naps in the swing? That’s the topic we’re tackling in today’s post.
Safety First: No Prolonged Sleep or Unsupervised Sleep in the Swing
Convenience is important for parents, but the safety of our babies takes first priority. So first, let’s address the safety concerns surrounding letting your baby sleep in the swing.
Here’s the general rule to remember: it’s not safe to let your baby sleep in the swing for prolonged periods of time, especially if your baby is unsupervised. The American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines in 2011 which advised parents to avoid using baby swings as sleep aids.
According to the AAP, sitting upright for long periods of time (in a swing, for example, or in a carseat) can make it hard for babies to breathe well, and that can lead to an increased risk of SIDS.
For these reasons, it’s probably best not to let your baby sleep in the swing at night. However, some short periods of supervised swing-napping during the day are considered safe (provided you strap your baby into the swing tightly, and that you don’t put any loose blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals in the swing with your baby.)
Infant Swings Can Be Great Tools for Soothing Fussy Babies
We don’t want to leave any of you with the impression that swings are unsafe, though — not at all! Used properly, swings can be excellent tools for calming fussy babies and giving parents a bit of much-needed peace.
“I remember distinctly one particularly difficult day when my son was 6-8 weeks old and I could NOT get him to sleep in ANY way whatsoever. Not nursing, holding him, swaddling him, or anything. He was so fussy and crying a lot. I couldn’t take it anymore and put him in the swing. He still cried 10 minutes, but then FINALLY fell asleep! A couple months later, at Christmas, we were teased that he was going to ‘get drunk’ from the swing, because of how fast he liked it moving by 4 months old. For a spirited baby, he needed a faster speed and even when rocking in our arms, we had to perfect the ‘hard rock’ as we called it. The swing was a God send in those early weeks, but of course only temporary.”
Allowing Your Baby to Nap in the Swing Too Often Can Cause Problems, Though
Unfortunately, though, the “too much of a good thing” rule does apply to your baby’s swing. Remember, our babies and toddlers are quick to form habits.
We’ve talked before about how rocking your baby to sleep, or letting your baby sleep constantly in your arms, can backfire. It can become a habit for your baby, and pretty soon you’ll find she won’t settle for anything less than being rocked (or held) each time she sleeps.
The same hold true for naps in the swing. If your baby is a frequent swing-napper, you may find that he won’t nap anywhere else. And at that point, you may start to feel like the swing is causing more problems than it’s solving!
Our Recommendation: Begin as You Mean to Continue
As Nicole’s said before, it’s best to begin as you mean to continue. And that’s a good thing to keep in mind when you use your infant swing. Again, it can be a great tool for banishing your baby’s cranky spells, but it’s not something you’ll want to use for all (or even most) of your baby’s naps.
Instead, we recommend that you get to the root of your baby’s napping problems and work to solve them, instead of using the swing as a “band-aid” fix. If your baby is struggling with naps and is past the 4 month mark, then you can try sleep training. If your baby is younger than 4 months, she’s too young for real sleep training, but you can still work to build a foundation of healthy sleep habits.
Is your baby a “swing-napper”? How have you worked to build healthy napping habits with your little one? Share your story below!
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