Kids lose interest in a toy quickly. With the holidays approaching, try these alternatives to wasteful spending on playthings.
Cheap Baby Swings
Are you a sleep-deprived parent in need of an occasional prop, like a cheap baby swing, to provide an hour or so of relief? Infant swings can lull a little one to sleep or supply a few moments of stimulating entertainment. Either way, you want a cheap baby swing that's safe, comfortable, and reliable. Now that wind-up swings have disappeared, you'll have to settle for a model that relies on batteries -- infant swings that draw power from an electrical outlet are priced above the Cheapism ceiling. For less than $100, though, you can get a baby swing that features a playlist of tunes and sounds, a toy bar, and multiple swing speeds and recline angles.
Bright Starts Comfort & Harmony Portable Swing
The Bright Starts Comfort & Harmony is a compact, fold-up model with features commonly found on full-size alternatives, like a five-point harness, six swing speeds, six melodies, two recline positions, and a timer with three settings. Parents like the quiet motor, decent battery life, small size, and overall value.
Graco Swing 'n Bounce
This is a full-size baby swing that wins points from parents for its multiple uses -- the detachable seat can be set to vibrate or used as a bouncer. The Graco Swing 'n Bounce features six swing speeds, 10 classical music selections and five nature sounds, a three-position recline, and a three-/five-point harness.
Fisher-Price SpaceSaver Swing & Seat
A cheap, on-the-go baby swing, the SpaceSaver also vibrates and converts into a feeding chair, and comes with a five-point harness, two recline positions, five speeds, and six songs. Parents say it could use some extra padding and power in the swing but they like its portability and battery life.
Graco Lovin' Hug Swing Barcelona
The Graco Lovin' Hug Barcelona features a hammock-like swing with a five-point harness, six speeds, four recline positions, 10 classical songs and five nature sounds -- and, it holds babies up to 30 pounds. Parents say their babies are happy in this swing but some report motors fail shortly after purchase.
Cosco Juvenile Beginnings Gentle Motion Swing
For what appears to be an excellent price, this swing offers the basics -- three-point harness, five speeds, three reclines, and a fold-up design, but no music. Parents complain about motors that are loud or conk out, and grouse about its build quality.
Fisher-Price 2-in-1 Cradle Swing
The dual functionality of the Fisher-Price 2-in-1 (front-to-back swing and side-to-side cradle) is rare in the cheap price range, but its gusto for eating batteries is a real turn off for many parents. It includes a three-point harness, six speeds, 12 tunes and three nature sounds, and it folds for storage.
Cheap Baby Swings Buying Guide
The big name manufacturers in the baby swings market include Fisher-Price, Graco, Bright Starts, Safety 1st, and Cosco, which produce infant swings across the price spectrum. MamaRoo, a decidedly upmarket brand, sells a $200 baby swing that features space-age design and multi-directional swinging and jostling that simulate real motions, like a jumping kangaroo or a moving car.
A baby swing is useful only for the first half year or so of a child's life, or until the baby weighs about 25 pounds, so there's no need to spend big bucks. In fact, for less than $60 you can get a good cheap portable infant swing, like the Bright Starts Comfort & Harmony Portable Swing (starting at $50) or Fisher-Price SpaceSaver Swing & Seat (starting at $56), which sit near the ground, work well for on-the-go babies, and offer many of the same features as cheap full-height baby swings. The standard-sized models aren't as easy to move around but require less bending over to move the baby in and out and carry price tags close to our $100 limit. Our picks for full-size swings include the Graco Swing 'n Bounce (starting at $90) and the Graco Lovin' Hug Barcelona (starting at $92), the former because of its versatile swing/vibrate/bounce functionality and the latter for its all-around value. Two cheap baby swings we'd steer clear of are the Fisher-Price 2-in-1 Cradle Swing (starting at $90) because it seems underpowered and tends to run through batteries at a rapid clip and the Cosco Juvenile Beginnings Gentle Motion Swing (starting at $50) due to concerns about build quality and the absence of entertaining distractions.
The features to look for in the best baby swings start with safety. Experts suggest opting for a model with a wide base to prevent tip-overs and a three- or five-point harness to keep the baby secure. Experts also urge you to send in the registration card that comes with every new baby swing so you can be notified in the event of a recall.
Other features found on the cheapest good baby swings include a design that affords easy access to the baby, multiple speed settings and recline positions, and entertainment options. A few feature two-way swinging (front-to-back and side-to-side) and a seat that vibrates. Our top picks for the best baby swings provide at least two recline positions, three speeds, five songs, and an open top design. As we read through reviews of budget baby swings, we did note, however, that even these models are not immune to the problem of motors that die too soon or struggle as the baby gets heavier.Back to top »
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