Why Baby Sleeping in Swing Overnight is a Bad Idea
So one of my readers asked me what I think about a baby sleeping in swing overnight because it’s the only place where she can sleep soundly.
She said, let’s call her Tiffany, she got this awesome swing as a gift for her baby, and the little one loves it. She falls asleep in it quickly--ten minutes tops--and soundly too.
Tiffany also mentioned that she tried bassinets, a co-sleeper, cribs, driving around the block, but all these would take about an hour to put her to sleep. And it’s not only that.
She gets startled easily, and when she wakes up, it’s back to square one all over again. With the swing, however, it’s different.
All she has to do is to rock it a little, and her angel goes back to sleep on her own.
Hence, the question.
Life-saving as it may sound, swings are just not safe for babies to sleep on overnight.
It has several risks (more on this later), and in my personal experience, it will keep you up all night. Literally.
Let me tell you my story of my baby sleeping in swing overnight.
When my son was born, a friend got me this “swing” from Asia. It’s actually a hammock, but people there call it swing.
My little boy was a screamer then. Hungry? Screams. Sleepy? Screams. Startled? Louder scream.
I was getting restless!
And it’s not just a few seconds of screaming and crying. I didn’t keep count, but for me it was forever.
Then I remembered the swing my friend gave me and decided to give it a try. Of course, I had to make sure it’s safe for baby.
I checked for any damage, weight-tested it, added a firm mattress (it has a flat bottom, by the way), used a fitted crib, and did not put anything that could suffocate or strangle my baby.
In my opinion, it was 101% safe.
So then I placed my little screaming angel then rocked it slowly, and like a miracle he went to sleep in less than five minutes.
You’re probably thinking he was tired from all the screaming that’s why he went to sleep that fast, so the next time he showed signs of fussiness--the exact signs he did before the screaming party--I placed him in the swing.
And everything was quiet.
There were coos and oohs from time to time but that’s it. The next thing I know he was fast asleep.
Being a mom who’s sleepless most nights, it’s the biggest blessing. And as you may have guessed, I thought of my baby sleeping in swing overnight.
So I tried it.
One bedtime, I decided to let him sleep in the swing overnight while I lay in bed just right beside him. Actually, I hanged the swing above the bed then I slept on the uncovered space.
The first few minutes were good, but for some reason I couldn’t go to sleep.
I kept glancing at my baby to make sure he’s OK. Since he’s elevated, I have to sit up and check if he’s still breathing or not sweating too much--the usual mom paranoia.
He was OK. He’s sleeping soundly, and his position hasn’t changed.
So I went back to bed and tried to sleep. But after a few minutes, a morbid thought would enter my mind again so I would do the same checking. This happened maybe four or five times.
To make the story short, I moved him to his bassinet. He slept. I slept. Finally.
The bottom line:
My motherly instincts told me the swing was safe, but the same instincts kept me awake at night. This is the reason I don’t recommend baby sleeping in swing overnight. It’s not just about the safety. It’s for your own sanity.
I think seeing your baby at an eye level helps. If he’s in a co-sleeper beside me, I would just open my eyes and see if he’s doing fine. The same goes for the bassinet.
But with the swing it’s a different story.
What about the experts?
What Do Experts Say on Baby Sleeping in Swing Overnight?
I read several articles on swing sleeping overnight, and at this point, I guess it’s safe to say that they have a unanimous decision: no baby sleeping in swing overnight.
Actually, some experts would even say a swing is not a safe place to sleep on at all because your baby’s almost sitting down. This means that he could have a hard time getting enough oxygen, which can lead to SIDS.
There’s one baby expert who supports swing sleeping, Dr. Karp, the author of The Happiest Baby. However, in an interview with Alexis Dubeif, he emphasizes that it should be a swing that fully reclines.
Take note that he did not recommend--at least in that interview--that it can be an overnight sleep.
Also, he underlined the necessity of asking your pediatrician first before trying it.
But as far as the American Academy of Pediatrics is concerned, swing is not a safe place to sleep, especially if your baby is unwatched.This is logical because some babies move a lot in their sleep and they could fall.
What Could be Done?
For your little one who accepts nothing less than a lot of bouncing, swinging, or rocking, you may have to stick to it for a couple more days or weeks.
In my experience, it was the first one or two months that I had to rock my son every single night before he sleeps soundly. On his third month, he learned how to sleep independently.
There were still sleepless nights on the third month, but they were occurring less over time until one day all of us at home would sleep soundly almost all through the night.
What I’m trying to say is:
It’s not bad to want some sleep for yourself, but for the safety of your baby, make some sacrifices the first few weeks of his life.
Ask your partner, your mom, or anyone who can help you in these trying times. And don’t worry, it will pass.