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There are no hard and fast rules, though most experts recommend limiting your baby's time in a motorized swing to an hour or less a day.
That's because she needs to develop the motor skills that will eventually lead to crawling, pulling up, and cruising – and sitting in a swing won't help her do that. It's also important to hold and interact with your baby as she matures physically and emotionally.
Of course, many parents find that a baby swing is a surefire way to calm a crying baby. If your baby's fussy or colicky, pediatrician and mom Dawn Rosenberg Jha says it's okay to use the swing to quiet her. She also suggests other ways of soothing, such as holding or swaddling your baby.
The rhythmic rocking motion of the swing may very well put your baby to sleep. It's fine to let her sleep in the swing for a short time while you're nearby, just use common sense.
Don't leave your baby unattended in a swing. And even if you're busy doing something else, make sure you can always see and hear her.
"Unlike cribs or bassinettes, swings are not intended for sleep and may not be safe," says Rosenberg Jha. "But if you're keeping an eye on your baby, and she falls asleep in the swing for a nap, there's no need to wake her."
You can also do a few things to make the swing safer for a sleeping baby. Don't pad the swing with loose pillows or blankets because they're a SIDS risk. Strap your baby in securely, and keep the seat in the most reclined position until she can hold up her head unassisted. Turn off the swing after your baby falls asleep.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) approved new safety standards for baby swings in 2012 to prevent accidental injuries or deaths, which can happen when babies tumble out or slump forward until they can't breathe. The CPSC advises looking for a swing with a five-point harness to hold your baby securely. It's also a good idea to check the CPSC's list of product recalls before you purchase a swing.
Finally, read the instruction book for your baby's swing carefully, and follow any precautionary measures the manufacturer recommends.