If you aren’t already aware of the magic of baby swings, let us enlighten you: not only do they help calm and soothe grumpy babies, but they also give you valuable moments for the things non-parents take for granted.
Things like making a cup of tea, or seeing other parents’ sickeningly perfect lives on Facebook. Those moments mean that even though baby swings get outgrown rather quickly, they’re still worth their weight in gold.
It’s possible to spend quite a lot of gold on a baby swing - some models look like robot exoskeletons, boast MP3 playback and Bluetooth audio and have more programmes than the BBC - but you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a great swing.
The most important factor isn’t whether a swing can play MP3s; it’s whether baby will be happy in it. That means comfort is the top priority, of course, but you might also find that a toy bar helps distract baby long enough for you to catch up on messages. Don’t worry if the right chair doesn’t have one, though, as third-party add-ons are widely available for almost any baby swing.
These are the baby swings we’d spend our own cash on in 2018.
Sometimes it pays to shop around: while £150 is a lot of money for a baby swing (opens in new tab), it’s nearly £50 less than third-party sellers are asking for this swing on Amazon. And you get a lot for your £150: the 2-in-1 swing can be changed to a rocking motion; the swing seat can be detached and used as a portable rocker; there are six swing speeds and 3 reclining positions; it includes a toy bar, soft night light and a choice of lullabies and nature sounds; and it’s wheeled for easy movement. It’s designed from birth to 9kg, which is roughly nine months, and it comes in a range of unisex fabrics that are a little insipid but fit with pretty much any decor.
When it comes to portable baby swings, it’s all about compromise: go for maximum comfort or put in a motor and you’ll end up with something heavy; add nice-to-have features such as toy bars and you’ve got something bulky. The trick is to balance all the different options and focus on function, which is what the Chicco bouncer does (opens in new tab). It doesn’t do a lot, but what it does it does very well. Despite generous padding its clever folding mechanism means it packs down into a really small rectangle - which it does in seconds - and at 2.2kgs it isn’t going to dislocate anybody’s shoulder. It can be used in fixed or rocking mode and there’s a waist harness to keep baby in the correct position.
As if the RRP wasn’t high enough, the Mamaroo’s newborn insert isn’t included: at the time of writing that’s another 10% on top. Is the Mamaroo really worth it? The short answer is yes (opens in new tab), but only if it isn’t a financial stretch: the Mamaroo moves differently and more quietly than rivals, which is useful, but additional features such as iOS/Android app control are a bit gimmicky. The USP here is that the Mamaroo replicates parental rocking and car rides as well as a swinging motion, and that more natural motion should mean more effective soothing. There are five speeds and the seat can recline flat, and there’s a hanging mobile that should keep baby amused for a little while. It’s hilariously expensive but as any parent knows, anything that promises to keep baby happy or sleepy is priceless.
When a baby swing does its magic, that often means baby sleeps - and that isn’t always ideal, because a proper cot or Moses basket would be much more comfortable. Say hello to the Nursery Dreamer (opens in new tab), which transforms as if by magic into a proper Moses basket. Not only that but it can also become a high seat - and while the basket is only suitable for babies up to six months, the seat is good up to 15kg. It also has the obligatory music and vibration (courtesy of AA batteries) and the seat swivels for side to side or front to back movement. The Nursery Dreamer may not have the Bluetooth, bells and whistles of other swing seats but it’s well priced and parents absolutely love it.
It’s amazing how much money even simple swings can cost, so hurrah for Mothercare: at just £47 it’s half or even one-third of the price of big-name equivalents (opens in new tab), and while it’s pretty basic it’s also pretty good. Its already small size gets even smaller when you fold it, which is great if you have limited space or need to move the chair between different places, and the adjustable seat is fairly well padded and includes a five-point harness. It plays tunes, has three different swing speeds and also has a timer that you can set for 10, 20 or 30 minutes. It may look a little flimsy but Mothercare guarantees it for two years. We’d definitely check this one out before considering more expensive rivals.