There are very few things a new parent spends more time obsessing over than sleep. From how little you're getting to how to make sure your baby is sleeping safely, nighttime can truly take over a parent's life. In the throes of desperation, it's normal to look for a quick-fix to help your baby (and you) sleep through the night, but does using a swing to get your baby to sleep actually work? Desperate times call for desperate measures, to be sure, and you might be surprised to find out that something so simple — like a swing — can make all the difference when it comes to your baby's sleep schedule.
Alanna McGinn, a certified sleep consultant and founder of the Good Night Sleep Site, told Care.com that for, "infants during the 'fourth trimester,' swinging is incredibly soothing in nature." Swings work by mimicking the sort of rocking motion that parents naturally make when holding their baby. Some swings also have music, songs, and vibrating features, adding to the overall soothing nature of a swing. Dr. Karp, author of The Happiest Baby On The Block, believes strongly in the power of rhythmic motion to lull babies into a deep sleep. Karp went on to tell Happiest Baby that he is a big fan of baby swings to help babies sleep and, as a result, help moms and dads get a little rest.
Even though baby swings will often help your baby get to sleep, they do not qualify as safe sleep space, as designated by public health and safety organizations like The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In fact, The Baby Sleep Site makes a point of telling parents that allowing baby to sleep in their swing for an extended period of time is dangerous and increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The site explains further, saying:
"Sitting upright for long periods of time (in a swing, for example, or in a carseat) can make it hard for babies to breathe well, and that can lead to an increased risk of SIDS. For these reasons, it's probably best not to let your baby sleep in the swing at night."
The AAP advises parents to transfer their baby to a crib as soon as they fall asleep in a space that is not a bare crib, saying, "If your baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, or infant sling, he should be moved to a firm sleep surface as soon as possible."
So, long story short: yes, using a swing to get your baby to sleep actually does work. In fact, perhaps it works too well. So if your baby is a fan of their swing, or you're curious as to whether or not the baby swing gifted to you by a family member or friend will help your baby sleep, remember the following: if the swing works and your little one passes out thanks to that gentle rocking motion, make sure to transfer them to a safe sleep space immediately.
Not only will your baby sleep soundly, they'll sleep safely.