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How to Choose a Baby Bouncer, Swing or Rocker

Apr. 29, 2024

How to Choose a Baby Bouncer, Swing or Rocker

Some parents swear by a bouncer, rocker or swing as a way to help soothe baby during those first months. If you’re trying to decide if you want to add one to your registry—or which one to add—this guide can help.

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We’re breaking down everything you need to know about bouncers, swings and rockers: what they are, why you may want one and which ones we recommend.

What are Bouncers, Swings and Rockers?

If you’re unsure of what’s what when it comes to this type of baby gear, here’s a quick overview:

  • A bouncer is powered by baby’s own movements or by giving it a quick nudge with your hand or foot. Bouncers are often on the smaller side and, although there are some more expensive options, are usually fairly affordable.
  • A swing is powered mechanically. Some swing side to side, some swing front to back, and some do a combination of both. Many have other features like vibration, sounds or a detachable mobile. They range from affordable to splurge-worthy.
  • A rocker can be powered either mechanically or by motion. Rockers can come in the form of small cradles or look like more of a reclined baby seat.

Do I Need a Bouncer, Swing or Rocker?

Like so many pieces of baby gear, the answer to this question ultimately comes down to a matter of personal preferences. If you’re tight on living space, trying to stick to a budget or are more of a minimalist, then a bouncer or swing isn’t a must-have, unlike diapers or a safe place for baby to sleep.

But they do come in handy for two big reasons: they can be great for settling fussy babies, and they’re a safe place to put baby when you need a break to cook dinner, shower or get something done around the house.

Babies love constant motion, and it’s no wonder; they’ve spent the better part of 40 weeks being bounced around. The transition to the outside world can be rough on many little ones. The constant rocking, bouncing or vibrating motions that a bouncer or swing provides can do wonders for soothing some babies.

But know this: not all babies love a bouncer, swing or rocker. Each baby is different, just like adults.

Keep in mind: When used properly and under supervision, a swing, bouncer or rocker is a safe space for baby—but, per the American Academy of Pediatrics, these products are not approved for safe sleep. Many of these products have the word “sleep” in the title or show photos of peacefully snoozing little ones on the packaging, but it’s important to always follow safe sleep guidelines for your baby.

What to Consider When Choosing a Bouncer, Swing or Rocker

Deciding which bouncer, swing or rocker will land a spot on your registry depends? Here are things to consider for each to help you make your decision:

  • Bouncers are lightweight, easily portable and have a small footprint. There aren’t any plugs, and they don’t take up a ton of space (some even fold completely flat), making them ideal for storage and travel. Some even feature adjustable recline settings and add-on toy bars that can extend their use for older babies. They do, however, require manual movement either from you or from baby.
  • Swings tend to do the best job comforting most little ones. The constant motion—whether side to side, back and forth, vibration or a mix of all three—acts as a great soothing mechanism and really does the trick for many fussy babes. They do, though, require a plug to power up, and tend to be on the larger and bulkier side.
  • Rockers can be a nice middle ground between swings and bouncers. They’re often mid-sized, come in manual or motorized options, and are fairly easy to move around.

There are several key features we recommend thinking about while browsing:

  • Portability. How easy is the product bring from room to room?
  • Easy to clean. Blowouts…spit up…you get the idea. Look for a removable, machine-washable cover or a waterproof fabric that’s easy to wipe down.
  • Seat incline. An adjustable seat can extend the usefulness of your bouncer or swing as baby grows.
  • Sound and motion options. These will give you the chance to experiment to see what baby likes best.
  • Aesthetics. Are you a fan of bold and bright, or are natural materials and muted colors more your thing?

Here are some popular choices:

For more top picks, check out this guide to the Best Bouncers and Swings. And remember, when it comes to choosing a bouncer, swing or rocker for your little one, it’s all about what’s right for you. Whatever you choose, it can be a big help for your tired arms once baby arrives!

Everything to Know About Baby Rocker Sleepers

Baby rockers and their cousin, baby bouncers, are often baby registry staples. After all, new parents need somewhere to put their precious bundle when they’re not sleeping in SNOO, chillin’ in the stroller, or nestled in the baby carrier. But baby rockers have picked up a bad reputation lately….and for good reason. In June 2022, it was reported that baby rockers were associated with more than a dozen baby deaths. Does this mean you should dispose of your baby rocker ASAP or nix it from your baby registry? Here’s what parents need to know about baby rockers.

What is a baby rocker?

Baby rockers are inclined baby seats that have a curved base, so they rock when you give it a slight push. Some baby rockers also feature vibration or rock by themselves thanks to electricity or battery power. A baby bouncer, on the other hand, has a flat base, so it gets its bounce from a gentle touch—baby kicks.

Are baby rockers safe?

Baby rockers—when used exclusively as directed—are safe. But oftentimes, baby rockers are not used correctly…and that’s where the danger lies. Here are tips for using your child’s baby rocker safely:

DON’T let your baby sleep in a baby rocker.

Never (as in, never ever) use an inclined baby product, like a baby rocker, a baby swing, or a baby bouncer, for infant sleep. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently finalized a rule requiring that infant sleep products have a sleep surface angle of 10 degrees or less, which further stresses that inclined baby rockers are never to be used for sleep. After all, between 2009 and 2022, at least 14 infants died after falling asleep in Fisher-Price and Kids2 baby rockers. The only safe place for an infant to sleep is on their back and on a firm, flat surface in a crib, bassinet or play yard with no soft loose objects in their sleep space.

DO always strap your baby into the baby rocker.

When babies are not properly secured into their baby rockers, they can easily roll into an unsafe position. A baby’s weak muscles coupled with the baby rocker’s incline means it’s that much more difficult for a baby to roll back to a safe position. In addition, babies can simply slide right out of the baby rocker if they’re not properly secured.

DO supervise your baby when they’re in a baby rocker.

Another never-ever: Never leave your baby in a baby rocker (or any inclined baby product) unsupervised. If you are not watching, you won’t know if your baby has inadvertently dozed off or moved into an unsafe position. In some cases the restraining belt can potentially slide up and cut off your baby’s airflow, leading to suffocation or strangulation. And when babies sleep at an incline, their heavy heads can easily flop forward. Because babies’ neck muscles are weak, they often don’t have the strength to pick their head up…which can cause suffocation. Baby rockers also sometimes feature plush sides, which pose an additional suffocation risk if your baby leans their face into the soft surface.

DON’T use bedding in a baby rocker.

Soft, loose bedding—and other soft objects—are big no-nos for the crib or bassinet…and they’re a no-no for the baby rocker, too. Again, babies can too easily turn their faces into a plush blanket or stuffed toy and suffocate. Even if you are supervising your baby with an eagle eye, it’s still best to keep the baby rocker free of extraneous bedding.

DO keep the baby rocker on the floor.

Never place your baby rocker on a countertop, table, or other elevated surface where the rocker—and baby—could fall to the floor. Same goes for soft surfaces like beds and sofas. Not only would this make it possible for your little one to fall onto the floor, but if the rocker tips it creates a suffocation risk as well.

DON’T use recalled baby rockers.

Before buying or using a baby rocker—or any product for your baby—search for it on to find out if it’s still safe to use. Recalled baby items (including inclined sleepers) can sometimes linger at secondhand shops, friends’ basements, and daycare centers. Here’s a short list of recent baby rocker and inclined sleeper recalls:

  • Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Rock ‘n Glide Soother

    Goto Tacviw to know more.

    Suggested reading:
    Best next to me cribs and bedside cots for safe sleeping ...
  • Fisher-Price 2-in-1 Soothe ‘n Play Glider

  • Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play

  • Delta Children Beauty Rest Beginnings Incline Sleeper

  • Delta Children Deluxe 3-in-1 Activity Rocker, Feeder and Sleeper

  • Disney Baby Minnie Mouse Incline Sleeper

  • Graco Little Lounger Rocking Seat

  • Kids II Rocking Sleeper

  • Simmons Kids Beautyrest Deluxe 3-in-1 Activity Rocker, Feeder, and Sleeper

  • Summer Infant SwaddleMe By Your Bed Sleeper

What if your baby falls asleep in a baby rocker?

While no one ever wants to move a sleeping baby, it’s very important to relocate your little one as soon as possible, notes the American Academy of Pediatrics. Not only will moving your baby to a flat and empty bassinet or crib help keep them safe, it’ll teach them that bassinets and cribs—not baby rockers—are for sleep. (When out-of-the-bassinet ZZZs regularly occur, your baby will start to learn that sleepytime happens in all these places…but not the bassinet.)

If you catch your sleepy baby before the ZZZs come, that’s even better: Take your baby out of the baby rocker when they’re calm and on the verge of sleep—and then gently place them in their bassinet. And if your baby dozes before you make the transition, gently rouse them with a slight tickle until their eyes open. After a few seconds, their eyes will close again and slide back to sleep. This wake-and-sleep practice is the first step to help your baby learn that they have the power to self soothe and sleep outside of the baby rocker.

What about baby swings?

Baby swings—much like baby rockers and bouncers—can be a great way for parents to catch a bit of a break, all while entertaining or soothing their baby. And, just like baby rockers and bouncers, it’s not safe for babies to sleep in swings. You should promptly move your little snoozer from the baby swing to a safe sleep space, like their bassinet. That’s because your baby’s head can fall forward, possibly obstructing their airway, and causing suffocation. And if a baby is accidentally left unrestrained in a baby swing, they can roll over and asphyxiate.

Is SNOO a baby rocker?

No. While the award-winning, pediatrician-designed SNOO does rock babies all night (and nap) long, SNOO is not a baby rocker. Unlike baby rockers, SNOO is designed for safe sleep. In SNOO babies sleep safely on a flat surface, securely swaddled on their backs, which helps prevent rolling to an unsafe position during sleep. SNOO is so safe, in fact, that over 100 hospitals all over the world place their smallest patients in SNOO. (Learn why rocking bassinets are fantastic at soothing babies.)

Do Leg Lifters turn SNOO into an inclined rocker?

No. SNOO Leg Lifters raise your baby’s head a mere 2.5 degrees to help reduce stuffy noses. That gentle incline is well under the 10-degree limit that the CPSC has deemed unsafe.

Learn more about safe—and unsafe—baby products:

View more posts tagged, health & safety

Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.

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