By Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns
Prior to birth, 100 percent of your baby’s sleep occurs in a bed of fluid that sloshes and moves with your every step and motion. There is a time of transition from womb to world that takes months, and lying flat on his back on an unmoving, rigid crib surface can be unsettling to your new baby. Adding the sway of movement is a perfect, soothing sleep-inducer during the newborn months.
Buying the right product for motion sleep
When shopping for a swing, glider, hammock, or bouncer, take plenty of time to choose the right product. If possible, shop in person instead of online, and if your baby is already here, then bring your infant along and place him or her in the floor model. Your baby may not take to it immediately (especially in the store environment), but it will give you a good idea of how he or she fits and how easy the item is to use. Take time to compare various options and consider these points:
- Purchase only new products, as safety features are improved constantly. Previously used swings, cradles, or bouncers may not be safe for your sleeping baby. If you acquire a used product from a friend or family member, check the manufacturer’s website or contact the manufacturer for information to be sure it’s safe to use.
- Check to be sure the base is stable and that all parts have sturdy construction.
- Read the package to find the size and weight restrictions so that your baby won’t outgrow it too quickly.
- Look for a certification from the Juvenile Products Manufacturer’s Association or other formal safety organization.
- Consider neutral colors and fewer frills, since bright colors and toy attachments can be interesting for a playful baby but distracting if your baby is trying to sleep (which is the primary purpose of these items, right?).
- Choose a product that has soft lullaby music, white noise nature sounds, or no sounds at all. Avoid swings with loud or harsh sounds. Whether a swing has built-in sound is a minor consideration, though, since you can use another source for this; it doesn’t have to be part of the device.
- Pick a model with that allows you easy-in, easy-out access, especially for a sleeping baby.
- Listen for a pleasant sound while the motor is running. Listen for one that will be soothing to your baby and to you. (Don’t purchase a swing or seat until you’ve turned it on, watched it run, and listened to it.)
- Pick a product with a volume button for the music or sounds, plus an on/off button to turn off the sounds independently of the motion so you can have your baby swing without the sound.
- Shop for a product with a secure five-point harness system that will keep your baby safe from becoming entangled or falling out of the swing.
- Consider a model with variable speeds and possibly several swinging directions so that you can adjust it to suit your baby. Some models include various movement directions—side-to-side, back-and-forth, and even up-and-down.
- If possible, choose a model with a timer that can turn the swing or vibration off after your baby is sleeping.
- Look for a model with a removable, machine-washable cover.
- Find out if the motor is electrical or runs by batteries. If battery-operated have a supply on hand or consider two sets of rechargeable batteries.
Human beings have been rocking babies to sleep for as long as there have been babies—it’s a very natural way to help them relax and sleep. Parents instinctively search for ways to provide their babies with movement to settle them because it works so well. During the early months, adding motion to the sleep process can help your infant fall asleep and stay asleep.