Baby-swing safety

Consumer Reports News: June 23, 2008 02:32 PM

If you’re like countless parents, you may consider a baby swing a godsend, especially for calming a colicky newborn and de-frazzling your nerves, or occupying your baby for a few minutes while you get things done nearby or grab a bite to eat. A swing provides a gentle rhythmic motion, which babies are accustomed to from their months in the womb. Still, don’t be lulled into thinking you’re off duty when your baby is swinging. According to Consumer Product Safety Commission statistics (PDF download), 1,800 children under age 5 were injured as a result of their baby swing in 2005, and on average, one baby dies annually from swing use. To keep your baby safe while you’re on the swing shift, keep these pointers in mind:

•    Never leave your baby unattended in a swing.

•    Always use the safety harness provided.

•    Never place a portable swing on an elevated surface.

•    Don’t let older children “push” your baby in the swing.

•    Limit the amount of time your baby swings; we recommend no more than 30-minute intervals, even if your baby seems content. More swinging time can make some babies dizzy. If you’re drowsy while your baby’s swinging, turn off the swing before you fall asleep. You don’t want to wake up and find that your baby has been swinging for hours.

•    With multi-speed swings, start with the lowest setting—high settings may be too rough for your baby. Very young babies tend to prefer slower speeds; older babies often like a quicker pace.

•    Always follow the manufacturer’s age and weight specifications and assembly directions exactly.

•    To prevent falls, stop using a traditional swing when your child attempts to climb out. Stop using a cradle swing when your baby can roll over or push up on his hands and knees.

•    Don’t transport your baby in a swing, or use a portable swing as an infant carrier.

Read our report on baby swings for more information. And watch out for baby swing recalls.

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