Baby Bouncer vs Swing vs Rocker

baby sleeping

So what’s left on your ‘what to buy for baby’ checklist?

Ok, so the crib, bassinet/moses basket, stroller and car seat will likely be at the top of the pile, but after that you can start thinking about some of the smaller items..

…and this often involves thinking of ways to entertain your baby.

Swings, bouncers and rockers certainly fall into this category but how do you know what to buy? What option is best for you and your baby?

In this article, we’ll take a look at all 3 options in detail so you can make an informed decision:

Thinking of ways to entertain your baby? Here's the lowdown on the differences between (and pros and cons) of bouncers vs swings vs rockers.

What is a baby bouncer?

A baby bouncer is built like a very small chair designed for babies. The rocking motion of the chair is powered by the movement of the baby. When they are old enough and have more motor skills, they learn very quickly that they can move the bouncer all by themselves, which can be a great thing for any new parent to witness.

Even small babies can still experience movement because a parent can easily rock the chair back and forth by using a foot to nudge the chair. The chair itself is inclined and the baby is in a lean-back position.

What to consider when buying one

Before you buy a baby bouncer, you have to be prepared to move it yourself, especially if your baby is very small and has limited movement. In this context, it’s not something you can simply leave.

Most people buying bouncers like the portability of them, so it’s important to find a model that’s small and light. This makes it easier to transport. Some models even fold flat for easy transport and storage, so this is another consideration.

Are they safe?

Because babies are still developing the muscles in their neck and core, it’s not safe to simply leave them unattended. If they settle back into the chair, their chin might tuck too far into their chest and they could have some trouble breathing.

It is also never a good idea to leave a bouncer sitting on a table or other elevated surface with a baby sitting in it. Due to the small and lightweight nature of the bouncer, the baby can easily overbalance and the bouncer could tip over or fall.

Pros of baby bouncers

  • Baby bouncers are usually inexpensive because they are small and don’t usually have any moving parts or motors.
  • Because the bouncer is small, it takes up a lot less room than other kinds of baby furniture, such as a swing.
  • The baby can move it all by themselves, which gives them something interesting to do.
  • The inclined position provides baby with a great view of the world where they can see everything and interact.
  • A baby bouncer is much easier to travel with because it is small and light.
  • Bouncers are good for babies because it encourages them to use their own motor skills.

Cons of baby bouncers

  • Because of the size of the bouncer, it can only be used for a short period of time before an upgrade is needed to something bigger.
  • Some parents might find the simple movement too limiting.

What baby bouncer is best?

Here are 3 recommended baby bouncers at 3 different price points for you to choose from:

BABYBJORN Bouncer

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Pros
  • 4 positions
  • Folds completely flat
  • For newborns until the age of 2 (bouncer folds into a chair)
  • Lightweight (only 5lbs)
  • Excellent customer feedback
Cons
  • More expensive than most bouncers (but it will last you a long time)
Bottom Line

A great option if you have the budget. A very well made product with excellent customer feedback.

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Baby Delight Go Bouncer

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Pros
  • Folds flat
  • Comes with carry bag
  • Sturdy, well-constructed
Cons
  • Can only be used for the first 6 months (or until baby weighs 20lbs)
Bottom Line

A good mid-priced option for a bouncer. It won’t last as long as the BABYBJORN (see above), but you might find using it up to 6 months is more than enough anyway.

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Bright Starts Playful Pinwheels Bouncer

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Pros
  • Vibrations help baby relax
  • Comes with spinnable toys to entertain your baby
  • Easy to put together
Cons
  • Doesn’t fold up
  • Some reports that the horizontal bar is a bit difficult to slot into place.
Bottom Line

If you’re on a budget then this bouncer will do the job for you, as long as you don’t have high expectations. However, it doesn’t fold up which might be problematic if you’re planning on taking it with you in the car to visit relatives or friends.

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nursery chair with elephant

What is a baby swing?

Unlike a bouncer, a baby swing moves by mechanical means. Many of them feature different movements, such as side to side, or front to back. This provides some extra stimulation for a developing baby brain.

What to consider when buying one

If you want more movement and stimulation in your baby chair, a baby swing is a really good option. In this context, you should consider looking for one that features multiple movement modes and extra toys and sounds. This also tends to work well for babies that are difficult to calm or soothe.

However, it must also be taken into account that a baby swing is bigger and heavier. If you want something portable, this may not be the ideal option.

Are they safe?

The baby swing is safer than a bouncer in terms of stability, but experts do recommend that a baby should not sit for more than one hour per day in one. Even though the swing is sturdier than a bouncer, you should never leave your baby unattended in one.

Pros of baby swings

  • More movement options are potentially more stimulating for a baby.
  • More stable than a baby bouncer.
  • They often have multiple attachments, such as toy bars.
  • Many models include sounds and music for extra stimulation.

Cons of baby swings

  • Not as easy to transport because they are heavier and bulkier than bouncers.
  • A baby swing needs to be powered.
  • The movements can be noisy, especially in less expensive models.
  • Due to the extra stimulation provided, parents may become too reliant on it to entertain the baby.

What baby swing is best?

Here are three good options are three different price points:

Primo 2-in-1 Smart Voyager Convertible Infant Swing and High Chair

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Pros
  • Converts from a baby swing to a high chair
  • Responsive cry activation mode
  • Use Bluetooth control to change swing speed, timer, music
Cons
  • It’s a little heavy (because of the 2 in 1 feature of the high chair/swing)
Bottom Line

It might be at a high end price, but if space is an issue in your home, or if you like the idea of using a product for a long time, then this swing/high chair is a wise investment. In fact, if you were to buy a good high chair and swing separately it may cost most more than this product by itself.

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Fisher-Price Sweet Snugapuppy Dreams Cradle ‘n Swing

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Pros
  • Swings in 2 directions; side to side, or head to toe
  • 6 swing speeds
  • 2 recline positions
Cons
  • Quite bulky, takes up more space than other swins
Bottom Line

This swing has a number of features to ensure the comfort and enjoyment of your baby. It’s fairly priced for what it provides and easy to assemble. However, it is quite big so it’ll likely take up more space than you realise, Make sure you check the measurements carefully and see if it’ll fit where you intend to place it in your home.

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Ingenuity Cozy Kingdom Portable Swing

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Pros
  • Easy to assemble, folds down easily
Cons
  • Only works with batteries (does not come with them either)
  • Music is quite loud (no volume option)
  • Feels a little flimsy
Bottom Line

This is a budget option for a baby swing, which does the basics well, but it has limitations. Get ready to change batteries regularly if you use the swing on a daily basis, and it doesn’t feel as sturdy as some other swings.

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baby lying down in crib

What is a baby rocker?

If you’re looking for a combination of a bouncer and a swing, a rocker is a good option. They can be moved either mechanically or manually.

The baby rocker sits quite low to the ground, much like a bouncer, but has sturdy rockers on the bottom. These can either be moved with a nudge of the foot or powered from a wall plug to enable a nice gentle rocking motion.

What to consider when buying a baby rocker

A rocker is a great idea for parents who want something that has an automated movement, but is still potentially small enough to carry easily and transport from one location to another. In this context, it’s wise to consider the size and weight of the rocker before buying it.

The biggest consideration is that there are going to be limited movement options. This may not suit all babies who need extra stimulation, and there are going to be times when you will need to manually move it.

Are they safe?

As with most baby accessories, it’s never wise to leave them in it unattended. As with all such items, it’s time to move to something bigger if your baby is too big for it.

Pros  of baby rockers

  • Not as small as a bouncer, but smaller and more portable than a baby swing.
  • A great middle ground between a bouncer and a swing makes it easy to interact with the baby using a nudge of one foot, or placed into automatic motion mode.
  • The incline is similar to a bouncer so that babies can easily interact and see everything from their position.

Cons of baby rockers

  • Lacks the plethora of movement options that a swing has.

What baby rocker is best?

If you’re interested in purchasing a rocker here are three options to consider:

4moms mamaRoo

Click image for latest price
Pros
  • Swing and rocker combined
  • 5 different motions to soothe your baby
  • Works with Bluetooth
  • No batteries needed
Cons
  • No music via Bluetooth (you have to directly connect your device to it if you want to play your music)
  • No newborn insert
Bottom Line

This rocker/swing has a number of different motions to keep your baby entertained. The AC power option is great to avoid the need for changing batteries all the time. It’s also easy to assemble, and it doesn’t take up much space. However, the lack of a newborn insert is a bit of an oversight, especially as this product is at a higher price point.

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Graco DuetSoothe Baby Swing and Rocker

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Pros
  • 2 in 1 product – swing and rocker
  • 3 different seating positions
  • Plug in and battery option
  • Use until 18 months
Cons
  • Quite bulky, a bit cumbersome for carrying it between different rooms
Bottom Line

This is a very good option for a mid-price rocker/swing. It’s sturdy, easy to assemble and you can use it until your baby reaches 18 months which is pretty good. It’s on the larger side for a rocker/swing so it’s best to find a fixed place for it rather than move it between different rooms throughout the day.

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Fisher-Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker, Jungle Fun

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Pros
  • For use up to 40lbs
  • You can adjust the recline of the seat
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Vibration is a little loud
  • No AC option
Bottom Line

If you just want a plain and simple rocker with a few basic features, then this one will do the job just fine.

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soft toy on mattress

5 safety tips for using baby rockers, swings and bouncers

  • Always supervise your baby when they’re using either of them.
  • Make sure your baby doesn’t take a nap in them (the raised incline makes them unsafe for sleeping in)
  • Only use them on the floor
  • Always use the provided safety harness
  • Check the weight and age limit carefully

FAQs

Why are baby swings so low to the ground?

One of the main complaints about baby swings is that they’re so low to ground.  It may seem frustrating to bend down to the ground to put your baby in one, as well as being in a position where pets and older siblings can make things more challenging for your baby! However, the low height is purely a safety issue in case your baby falls out. It also ensures the swing is more stable.

Is sleeping in a rocker bad for a baby?

Yes. It should be avoided.  Babies should sleep on their back in a crib with a firm mattress. Sleeping in rockers, bouncers or swings increases the risk of positional asphyxia (where a baby can’t get enough air to breathe due to the positioning of the body)

How long can you leave a baby in a rocker?

According to Consumer Reports, you should try to limit using a bouncer, rocker or swing for 30 minutes at a time (2 x 30 minute sessions a day is ok)

What age can your baby start using a rocker, bouncer or swing?

On average, you should be fine to use them from birth until about 6 months (or when your baby is around 20lbs – just check the instructions carefully)

Additional Resources

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Author: Graham Scott

Graham runs the place around here. He likes making a "little noise" about all things to do with tennis and parenting. Check out his about page to learn more.

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