Is it safe for my baby to sleep in a swing?
Most babies love to swing and the to-and-fro motion can help soothe them if they are fussy, and yes, it can even lull them to sleep. But infant swings are not designed for sleeping. Newborns lack the muscle strength and coordination to keep their heads properly positioned, which could make it hard for them to breathe and lead to suffocation. The baby’s body position is inappropriate, as well. The upright swing does not provide the back and hip support a baby needs. Any soft blankets or pillows placed to keep the baby in position may end up covering the baby’s face. Some swings may have a cradle attachment in which the infant can lie flat while gently swinging. These can be safe as long as all guidelines for safe sleep surfaces are followed. A brief nap might be OK for an older baby, but when your little baby falls asleep in the swing, it is best to move him to his crib or bassinet.
A related issue for a baby about 6 months and older is the inappropriate sleep association that can develop after falling asleep in the swing all the time. If a baby is used to falling asleep in the swing, it will likely be difficult to get him to fall asleep in his crib. And if he wakes during the night, he will expect to be put back in the swing to fall asleep again, since that is where he remembers falling asleep the first time.
About Dr. Debra Babcock