I have a Fisher-Price baby swing that my 7-week-old is spending a lot of time in :) I've found that I often put him in wide awake, and a short while later he's soundly sleeping. Is it ok to leave him asleep in the swing? Is there any reason to move him to a crib or bassinet?
I'll offer two replies, depending on how your baby swing looks and works:
- The user Swati wrote that a hammock-style swing is common in Indian culture. It's apparently not toddler-proof in the way that a crib is, but at 7 weeks that is not a concern.
- When our son was an infant, he loved to swing in the infant car seat (safely suspended in a door frame using hooks and ropes), and often fell asleep in it. Since the infant car seat is made to provide a safe and comfortable position for the baby, we had no concerns about him sleeping in it. But we often moved him from the seat to his crib in the bedroom once he was sleeping deeply, mostly out of practical considerations - the car-seat-swing blocked the doorway :) and we had to be rather quiet.
- The swing you're linking to in your comment provides a somewhat upright position. Be aware that most physiotherapists (source: I'm married to one) will tell you that infants should not be upright until they can sit on their own - before that, the spine and upper body is not sufficiently developed to support the weight of the head and body. So if your swing allows leaning the child back to (almost?) flat, it would be better.
- The infant car seat also has a somewhat upright seating position, so we tried to make sure it was leaned as far back as possible.
- How flat is flat? That depends on how much you believe the physio arguments. Again based on my wife's comments, I'd say the spine/back should be angled no more than 15-20 degrees above level, but this is not at all an exact statement! I think the underlying idea is to avoid a lengthwise compression in the spine.
No, it is not safe.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has a policy statement on the subject in the following document.
Sitting devices, such as car safety seats, strollers, swings, infant carriers, and infant slings, are not recommended for routine sleep in the hospital or at home. Infants who are younger than 4 months are particularly at risk, because they might assume positions that can create risk of suffocation or airway obstruction. When infant slings and cloth carriers are used for carrying, it is important to ensure that the infant’s head is up and above the fabric, the face is visible, and that the nose and mouth are clear of obstructions. After nursing, the infant should be repositioned in the sling so that the head is up, is clear of fabric, and is not against the adult’s body or the sling. If an infant falls asleep in a sitting device, he or she should be removed from the product and moved to a crib or other appropriate flat surface as soon as is practical. Car safety seats and similar products are not stable on a crib mattress or other elevated surfaces.
I used a similar swing (Boppy) which allowed for my son to be a little more reclined than the FP one you have. As long as his head isn't flopping around and he can't fall out of it, having him in the swing won't hurt him.
I can see your FP swing also has a neck support for infants, that's good - if it reclines more, then it'll be even better for him.
As a side note: My son was visiting his farmor today (grandmother) and she had the swing out for her other grandson to use... but Matthias got to it first (at 3 years old) and took a nap in it with it running.
For the type of swing you have, there should be no problems with your child sleeping in it as long as you follow the safety precautions of strapping them in.
I have had multiple conversations with our pediatrician about where our daughter can safely sleep. From one-week-old through her current one-month-old, she has successfully slept in her crib twice. Every other time we have tried has resulted in her waking up in a fit of colicky rage. Thus we have had to accept other options.
Most of the time, she sleeps in our arms, as this is the only consistent easy for us to get her to stay asleep. The second-most common option is sleeping in her swing, which is a variation on the same design you have here (a Fischer Price model with a fully reclining option).
Our pediatrician specifically stated that this option was OK as long as she was strapped in. Further, Dr. Karp's "Happiest Baby on the Block" specifically states that sleeping in a swing is OK.
*Since these posts in 2012 understanding of these matters has developed so I thought this should be updated with current advice as this is still easily found on the main google search results for these concerns.
If you note the original image, on the fisher price swing the original poster displayed, the rocking motion is side to side not backwards and forwards. This more modern twist means that at no point during the swinging motion does the babies incline change to a more vertical position placing extra weight on babies spinal column. Due to its left to right swing, the baby remains at a near flat incline. This is safe for the duration of a 90 minute nap.
- (Although your baby may naturally sleep longer and hopefully will continue to after you move them to a sleep safe crib, 90 minutes is a full sleep cycle so if moving them wakes them you are not depriving them of sleep or disturbing them, this is an adequate nap.)
- The second image displayed by a commenter is not safe for nap and is to be used for play, entertainment, soothing and neck strength exercise for as long as you might do tummy time or until the baby falls asleep at which point you would move them as soon as possible (once definitely asleep) to a sleep certified crib.
Another poster mentioned car seats and suggested that the safety of them for sleep must be related to correctly fastening them in because they are safe in the car. Yes, your child IS safe in the car, for 90 minutes at a time. After this time, it is no longer safe for sleep and the baby must be allowed to sleep flat on its back. This is due not only to long term spinal development but the babies immediate safety. The baby, even seemingly relaxed in its sleep is using extra muscles to keep its airways open in this position. After 90 minutes, the risk of your baby no longer being able to consistently keep its airways open at this angle becomes more unlikely. They must be allowed to sleep flat at this point to relax these muscles and breathe openly without the extra strain. The same applies to swings, the devices function, mechanics and harness are not the safety matters being compared. Simply the structure of babies spine, the angle of sleep allowed by the seat and the similar affects they have on the muscle based airway tubes. Of course many babies have safely survived nights in these devices, just as babies often survived long journeys but this has been responsible for many seemingly sudden deaths where suffocation has not been a factor. Please seriously consider limiting time in car seats and swings or any device that replicates that positioning to 60 minutes with the absolute maximum of 90 minutes.
My sources for this information are from my own paediatric training, the advice of the chiropractor that works along side me in my private practice and the guidelines expressed by the extensively tested products I used in caring for my own children. The 90 minute rule is now standard advice for preventing sudden infant death as the weakened/exhausted airways are most likely the cause where suffocation is ruled out.