Shopping for your baby can be overwhelming. What to buy and how much, can leave you wandering through thousands of web pages looking for advice. Some items will be in your home for years like your baby monitor and crib.
Other items are only used for a short time and so there is a long debate about choice, price, and need. Swings, rockers, and bouncers are all examples of items you will only use for a short period – less than 6 months- so how to do choose?
What is the Difference Between Swings, Rockers, and Bouncers?
Although these tools are similar, there are some significant differences between them. A baby swing is a reclined seat attached to a tripod or base that mechanically moves baby in a rocking or bouncing motion. A rocker is like a small rocking chair, more portable than a swing, and can rock independently.
A bouncer is an inclined baby seat that has some spring in the base that will assist you to manually bounce baby or some have mechanized vibration. They are suitable from birth to about six months. There are advantages and disadvantages for all these seats.
Why Do I Need One of These Seats?
Newborn babies often struggle with anxiety. This is a very different place from what they are used to experiencing. More noise, temperature fluctuations, and waiting for food is stressful.
Especially in the first 3 months, babies are more prone to crying for long periods of time. This crying stage usually happens in the late afternoon or evening and can extend hours.
Often the only solace is holding and rocking. However, it is almost impossible for you to provide all that rocking on your own.
Swings, bouncers and rockers all help mimic your rocking arms. This equipment can allow you time to rest your arms, help baby fall asleep, and give you time to make supper. I have often told the mothers I assist that based on my own experience I would purchase a swing before a changing table just because of its tremendous value.
Swings create the repetitive motion baby experienced in utero. A swing can be a sanity-saver if you have a fussy baby or one that is hard to put to sleep.
The latest swings move in multiple directions, at varying speeds, and in either a rocking or bouncing motion. You will find your baby prefers some settings over others. Most models also have music and toys to entertain baby while you are busy.
|Most babies will enjoy at least one of settings.||More expensive and need a power source. Ensure it can be plugged in rather than needing batteries.|
|Multiple speeds and settings allow you to create a unique experience for your baby and allow you many options.||It is easy to become overly attached to the swing for both parents and baby.|
|Very sturdy design, not easily knocked over||Not safe for baby to be unsupervised or to have long naps.|
|Come in full size and portable sizes if your space is limited.||Takes up more room in your home|
|Have many attachments to entertain baby.||Only to be used until baby is 25 lbs, six months, or when baby is able to roll over and pull up.|
|Useful if swing will stay in one position.||Not easily portable|
|Multiple sound and music options||The mechanical movement can cause repetitive sound.|
Rockers are a hybrid of the swing and bouncer. They sit lower to ground and have rockers on the bottom like you would see on a rocking chair. Babies can be rocked back and forth with a little touch from you or may come with automatic rocking motions.
The rocking motion also mimics utero movements and will calm baby. These seats are designed for soothing and play. The risks for SIDS eliminate their use as a sleep aid. You can rock baby to sleep but move baby to a flat surface to sleep.
|Smaller than a swing, takes up less room, more compact||Less powerful than a swing.|
|Just a nudge from your toe can start the rocking motion.||Fewer options for swinging, bouncing, and direction.|
|Can calm an anxious or colicky baby, giving you a rest.||Can only use for less than six months.|
|Can have vibration, rocking, toy and sound attachments||Will need batteries for any automation feature.|
|The incline is perfect for your infant to begin to interact in the world.|
Bouncers are low-tech baby rocking furniture. It has an inclined position for baby with a small base. The seat can be bounced with your feet or hands. There are some that have some mechanized movement such as vibration.
As baby gets older and begins to move their arms and legs, they will soon realize they can make the seat move on their own. The bouncer is portable but should not be put above ground level. These seats can come with a canopy for hanging toys.
|Smaller than a swing, takes up less room, more compact||Will need batteries for any automation feature.|
|Lower to the ground.||Less power, fewer movement options.|
|Can calm an anxious or colicky baby, giving you a rest.||Can only use for less than 6 months.|
|Can have vibration, rocking, toy and sound attachments|
|The incline is perfect for your infant to begin to interact in the world.|
|Just a nudge from your toe can start bouncing motion. Baby will learn how to make the seat bounce with his leg and arm movements|
|Lighter, easier to port|
|Can change level or angel of elevation.|
|Bouncers encourage baby to use legs and arms which makes it a very good exercise time.|
Are Bouncers, Rockers and Swings Safe to Use?
Top 10 Safety Tips
- Know the height and weight limits of the chair and stop using if going over.
- Stop use of the chair once your baby can roll over with ease and lift themselves up. Usually between 5-6 months.
- Use the safety harness for any time in the chair even if supervised or for short periods.
- Never place rockers or bouncers on elevated surfaces, they should only be on the floor.
- Understand the level of incline of these seats make them unsafe sleep spaces for your child. Prior to 4-5 months your baby has little control over his head and can lean too far forward blocking air flow.
- Use these seats for play, calming, even helping to fall asleep, but move baby to crib once asleep.
- Always supervise your baby in a swing, bouncer or rocker.
- Fabric should be easy to clean and of natural fibers.
- Look for non-slip grips on the bottom of the rockers and bouncers.
- Ensure base is wide and not easily turned over
When Will My Baby Use This Equipment?
You will probably use this equipment multiple times a day from birth. Depending on the level of fussiness, you may find your baby spends most of their day in a swing, bouncer, or rocker.
The use of these items will peak in your first few months but then decline over time until baby is rolling over and pushing up. This is a good sign your baby is ready for floor play.
Although you will only use these tools for a maximum of 6 months, they can still be a very good purchase.
What Should I Buy? A Swing? A Rocker? A Bouncer?
If you have the resources, you may be tempted to purchase all three, but with careful reflection, you should be able to find the right equipment for your family.
Size: Swings are the largest and the least able to relocate especially throughout the day. They work best if baby will be in a central place during the day such as the kitchen or living room. The bouncer and rocker both take up only a small amount of real estate in your home but check their dimensions. They are both easier to port and fold down easily.
Power: Swings offer the most options for movement due to their powerful motors. Ensure you purchase a brand that plugs in. Although that will limit placement, it is much cheaper than buying batteries.
Bouncers and rockers need either human power or battery power. The batteries in these units will last much longer than a swing as they do not use as much power. Both offer styles that have automated vibration and rockers can have automated rocking capabilities.
Extras: Depending on the model you choose, swings, rockers, and bouncers all come with toy and music attachments. The lower the price range the fewer options available.
Uses: Swings are best to calm upset babies. They allow you two hands to complete something important. Rockers allow for the rocking motion and have fewer options than a swing.
They are a better choice if you do not have space or room in your budget for a swing. The bouncers are great to allow siblings or guests to engage with baby without holding. The bouncing sensation is pleasant to babies and they will even figure out how to make it bounce on their own.
Price: Swings come in many styles and prices. Out of the three, swings are the most expensive. You can spend over $500 and have every possible attachment. But you can also spend below $100 and have a swing that only swings front and back and has fewer toys, music and timers.
There is no evidence that swings that move in multiple directions are any less effective than the lower priced back-and-forth model. Ensure you know the dimensions, ensure it has a stable base, and that it is easy to take baby out.
Rockers are mid-level compared with swings and bouncers. They have additional features like bouncing, rocking, vibration, toys, and music. They come in a large range of prices as well.
A rocker would be the best choice if you have limited space in your home or plan on moving baby around in the day. Look for rockers that have metal or wood rockers rather than plastic. They come in base models with no automation, music or toys as well as fully loaded.
Bouncers are the cheapest option. This is a great option if you want to be with baby while rocking. The automated vibration can give you a chance to soothe baby while you make supper. I like that the baby can learn how to make the chair bounce on their own, but it does require more input from you than the swing.
What Would I Choose?
Hands down, no contest, I would buy a swing. Not necessarily the ones with the 15 different directions just a back and forth swing. The sturdiness and auto-rocking would be the best tool for a fussy baby.
Now, if I had additional funds and wanted more, I would choose the bouncer purely for its simplicity and the ability for baby to participate.