American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) at 800-433-9016
American Chemistry Council at 703-741-5000
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) at 610-832-9500
Consumer Federation of America at 202-387-6121
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
First Candle/SIDS Alliance (SIDS) at 800-221-7437
Home Safety Council at 202-330-4900
International Association For Child Safety (IAFCS) at 800-598-8911
Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.) 800-266-3314
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at 800-424-9393
National Safe Kids Campaign at 800-441-1888
National SIDS Resource Center at 703-821-8955
Toy Industry Association, Inc. (TIA) at 212-675-1141
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) at 800-638-2772
Vinyl Institute at 703-741-5670
World Trade Organization (WTO)
If you can, try your baby in a friend's or relative’s swing first, to see if he likes it. Or take your baby to the store with you for test runs. Take along your own C and D batteries and try the floor models. Your baby’s reactions may help you decide on a brand, or whether he’s even a candidate for a swing in the first place.
Decide between a traditional swing or a portable one. If you want the option of moving your swing from room to room often and taking it on road trips, or if you’re short on living space, a travel swing may be right for you. Travel swings take up about as much space as a bouncy seat, and many have a sturdy carrying handle. The downside? Because you have to crouch down to put your baby in the swing and take her out again, using the swing can be uncomfortable, or impossible if you have a bad back or are recovering from a C-section. It also can be tricky to maneuver a squirmy baby into the swing from a sitting position.
If you choose a traditional swing, decide between side-to-side movement or front-to-back motion. Some swings, like Nature’s Touch Baby Papasan Cradle Swing by Fisher-Price, move in both directions. Cradle-style swings recline so your baby can lie down for the ride, which newborns tend to prefer--but the useful life of these swings is shorter. As soon as your baby can push up on his hands and knees, he’ll want to sit up and see out. That’s when it’s time to retire it.
Look for a five-point harness. Traditional swings are required to have a fixed restraint system, which may include a waist and crotch belt (three-point harness) that must be used together so that your baby can’t slip out, or a passive crotch restraint and a waist belt, such as a tray with a crotch post and a waist belt. Some models feature an over-the-shoulder, five-point harness. This type of harness is best because it keeps your baby from climbing out of his seat and plunging to the ground, which can happen long before you think possible. Travel swings don’t have a tray with a middle post, just a safety harness.
Consider comfort. Seating ranges from deep, padded, womb-like cradles to a wider chair with an adjustable infant head support. For the infancy stage, you’ll want a seat that reclines or has an angled back because your baby won’t be able to hold his head up. An infant headrest is a bonus; it will help keep your baby’s head positioned properly. If your baby will use the swing after 3 months of age (up to 25 or 30 pounds), look for a seat with an infant head support that’s removable and that has several seatback positions. Older babies will want to sit upright and reach for the toys on the toy bar, if the swing has that feature. If the swing has a front tray, make sure it pivots from side to side, flips up, or is detachable. You’ll have a much easier time sliding your older baby in and out of the seat with the tray out of the way.
Check the store’s return policy. Try the swing within the time limits of the store’s return policy (usually within 30 days), so you have the option of taking it back. Keep the receipt and the packaging. A noisy motor may be a deal-breaker for you.
Buy new. Infant swing safety standards are continually being updated. To make sure that your baby is using the safest possible swing, buy new, not used. Older swings may not have an adequate restraint system, which can put your baby at risk of falling, so don't be tempted to use an old, outdated swing