Newborn Sleeping in Swing – Benefits & Risks (A Nurses Guide)

LAST MODIFIED: Thursday, December 6, 2018
Baby Swing

An infant swing is a must-have registry item for new parents to a little baby.  Baby swings are an essential tool for tired parents in the early days of parenting.  Baby swings soothe a fussy baby and entertain an infant so parents can complete household chores.

Infant swings have a complex history that includes 15 swing-related deaths between 2002 and 2011.  The government created new rules to protect infants, but older baby equipment may not meet these standards.  Our recommended baby swings are newer swings that will meet these safety standards.


Can Newborns Sleep In A Swing Overnight?

The swing soothes babies by mimicking the movements they feel while in the womb.  You may have heard that it is a convenient way to lull your baby to sleep.  However, it’s not safe to permit your baby sleep in the swing overnight.  Five of those fifteen deaths involved infants being slumped over in an upright swing.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents against using infant swings with sleeping babies. Safe sleep guidelines recommend moving your baby to his or her crib or bassinet after falling asleep.

The AAP recommends sharing a room with your baby, but not sharing a bed.  Place your baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface with a tight-fitting sheet.  The crib should be bare and free of soft bedding.


How Do I Transition Baby From The Swing To The Crib?

Moving a sleeping baby from the swing to the crib comes with its set of challenges, but is achievable with a little preparation.  Place the swing in the room where the infant sleeps, to enable a smooth transition to his or her bed.

Promote the bedroom for sleep.  Set the temperature for 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the room.  Dress your infant in a comfortable outfit like a swaddle sack or sleeper.  It is very important your baby not be too hot or too cold.  Consider using black-out curtains to maximize dark spaces during nap time.  Add “white noise” from a machine, fan, or air conditioner to help baby sleep peacefully.


What Are The benefits Of Infant Swings?

  • Swings can calm a fussy baby.
  • The musical features and soft toys keep babies engaged.
  • They take up less space than a playpen or larger equipment.
  • Swings hold a baby while you get housework done.
  • Many swings operate on both electric and battery power sources to provide transport to varied locations.
  • Newer swings are designed with safety harnesses and are sturdy enough to sustain swinging without toppling.


Are There Risks In Using Infant Swings?

There are risks associated with the frequent use of baby swings.  This can be reduced by limiting the time spent in a “container”, including a baby swing, car seat, or bouncy seat.

Baby’s soft skull can become flat from continued pressure from remaining in the same position for a long time.   This condition is called plagiocephaly and is treated with a special helmet.

Certain infant swings can increase the risk for hip dysplasia and dislocation, a condition that affects the hip joint.  During the first few months of a baby’s life, the hip joint is loose.  If the hips are forced into the wrong position too early and for too long, they may become displaced or dislocated.

Spending too much time in a baby seat or swing keeps the spine in a C curve position.  This prevents the cervical and lumbar spine from developing properly.

In order to decrease the risks to physical development from these seats, parents should be diligent about promoting different positions for their baby.

  • Feeding: Hold your baby during feeds, alternating each side.
  • Tummy time: Parents should practice supervised tummy time. Begin with short periods (three to five minutes) a couple times a day.  Work up to an hour of tummy time a day.
  • Kangaroo care: Hold your baby in kangaroo care. This alternates the areas of pressure on your infant’s head.
  • Healthy hip positions: Allow hips free movement without forcing them together. Use baby equipment that allows hips to naturally fall to the side, support the thighs, and keep the hips and knees bent (frog or straddle position).

Infants have an increased chance for SIDs and suffocation, particularly under age 4 months.  Place the swing in a reclined position to avoid baby slumping over.

In order to minimize the risk of injury and falls:

  • Caregivers should check that their baby is not heavier than the weight limit specifications on the swing
  • The cradle surface should remain flat while in motion
  • The swing should not tip over or shift with motion
  • Mobiles should not be easily removed by infants
  • Infants should be secured with shoulder straps to keep from falling out, particularly at an angle greater than 50 degrees.


What Is The Takeaway For Baby Swings?

Baby swings are tools that are useful for calming babies and providing parents with a needed break.  The risks of infant swings may seem overwhelming.

However, the takeaway is to limit the amount of time your baby is in a swing and to use safety equipment.  When we know better, we do better.

Baby swings satisfy a valuable role on your baby registry.

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