Should I make my baby sleep in a swing?
Although I love most traditional sleep practices like babywearing, bedsharing, breastfeeding and rocking babies, there is one practice that we really need to say goodbye to and fast – and that is the traditional swing/ jhula/ cradle/ hammock/ thooli.
While it can initially seem as though a baby is sleeping very well in a swing and this is a convenient alternative to holding a baby in our arms for naps, I would strongly advise you against it because:
1. Swings are unsafe, especially once the baby learns to roll over
2. There is a suffocation/asphyxiation/SIDS risk
3. In-motion naps are not restful (just think about the fitful sleep we all experience in a moving train or car or even plane) and can lead to overtiredness
4. Swings are very difficult to wean off
5. They come in the way of bedsharing, nursing lying down and bridging of naps
6. It is an artificial replacement for the physical closeness of holding or bedsharing that a human infant is biologically programmed to seek
7. It can hamper the breastfeeding relationship by replacing nursing sessions as a soothing method and lead to low supply
I have seen umpteen cases of parents that have 7 or 8 month old babies whose babies are sleeping in a manner that is just impossible to manage. Short naps, frequent wakings, early morning wakings, active nightwakings, even day/night confusion. These babies, who were sleeping blissfully in a swing when younger, are now unable to sleep with a swing or without a swing. They are either waking multiples times at night because they need that swinging motion or they are overtired due to in-motion naps.
A lot of the natural cues and behaviours that both babies and parents develop in the normal course of things have not been allowed to develop due to the use of the swing. Parents are not accustomed to holding a baby and bridging naps. Baby doesn’t accept other methods of soothing to sleep. It is all a vicious cycle and a big mess.
If you are already using a swing, I would encourage you to wean it as quickly as possible. Replace it with holding in your arms, babywearing, rocking and walking. It will take 2 to 3 weeks to wean entirely and for sleep to improve. But it will be completely worth it.