skip to main content
How to Choose a Baby Bouncer, Swing or Rocker
Updated on
September 11, 2023

How to Choose a Baby Bouncer, Swing or Rocker

Babylist editors love baby gear and independently curate their favorite products to share with you. If you buy something through links on our site, Babylist may earn a commission.
Here’s how you maximize the odds of baby liking what gear you pick. How to Choose a Baby Bouncer, Swing or Rocker

Some parents swear by a bouncer, rocker or swing as a way to help soothe baby during those first months. If you’re trying to decide if you want to add one to your registry—or which one to add—this guide can help.

We’re breaking down everything you need to know about bouncers, swings and rockers: what they are, why you may want one and which ones we recommend.

What are Bouncers, Swings and Rockers?

If you’re unsure of what’s what when it comes to this type of baby gear, here’s a quick overview:

  • A bouncer is powered by baby’s own movements or by giving it a quick nudge with your hand or foot. Bouncers are often on the smaller side and, although there are some more expensive options, are usually fairly affordable.
  • A swing is powered mechanically. Some swing side to side, some swing front to back, and some do a combination of both. Many have other features like vibration, sounds or a detachable mobile. They range from affordable to splurge-worthy.
  • A rocker can be powered either mechanically or by motion. Rockers can come in the form of small cradles or look like more of a reclined baby seat.

Do I Need a Bouncer, Swing or Rocker?

Like so many pieces of baby gear, the answer to this question ultimately comes down to a matter of personal preferences. If you’re tight on living space, trying to stick to a budget or are more of a minimalist, then a bouncer or swing isn’t a must-have, unlike diapers or a safe place for baby to sleep.

But they do come in handy for two big reasons: they can be great for settling fussy babies, and they’re a safe place to put baby when you need a break to cook dinner, shower or get something done around the house.

Babies love constant motion, and it’s no wonder; they’ve spent the better part of 40 weeks being bounced around. The transition to the outside world can be rough on many little ones. The constant rocking, bouncing or vibrating motions that a bouncer or swing provides can do wonders for soothing some babies.

But know this: not all babies love a bouncer, swing or rocker. Each baby is different, just like adults.

Keep in mind: When used properly and under supervision, a swing, bouncer or rocker is a safe space for baby—but, per the American Academy of Pediatrics, these products are not approved for safe sleep. Many of these products have the word “sleep” in the title or show photos of peacefully snoozing little ones on the packaging, but it’s important to always follow safe sleep guidelines for your baby.

What to Consider When Choosing a Bouncer, Swing or Rocker

Deciding which bouncer, swing or rocker will land a spot on your registry depends? Here are things to consider for each to help you make your decision:

  • Bouncers are lightweight, easily portable and have a small footprint. There aren’t any plugs, and they don’t take up a ton of space (some even fold completely flat), making them ideal for storage and travel. Some even feature adjustable recline settings and add-on toy bars that can extend their use for older babies. They do, however, require manual movement either from you or from baby.
  • Swings tend to do the best job comforting most little ones. The constant motion—whether side to side, back and forth, vibration or a mix of all three—acts as a great soothing mechanism and really does the trick for many fussy babes. They do, though, require a plug to power up, and tend to be on the larger and bulkier side.
  • Rockers can be a nice middle ground between swings and bouncers. They’re often mid-sized, come in manual or motorized options, and are fairly easy to move around.

There are several key features we recommend thinking about while browsing:

  • Portability. How easy is the product bring from room to room?
  • Easy to clean. Blowouts…spit up…you get the idea. Look for a removable, machine-washable cover or a waterproof fabric that’s easy to wipe down.
  • Seat incline. An adjustable seat can extend the usefulness of your bouncer or swing as baby grows.
  • Sound and motion options. These will give you the chance to experiment to see what baby likes best.
  • Aesthetics. Are you a fan of bold and bright, or are natural materials and muted colors more your thing?

Here are some popular choices:

An Affordable Swing

Featuring six sway speeds, two vibration settings, 15 sound options and a compact frame, this simple and straightforward swing has it all at a good price.

A Stylish Bouncer

It’s a bit of a splurge, but some parents say it’s worth every penny. This chic, ergonomic bouncer is powered by baby’s movements and is made from ultra-soft, washable fabric. It folds completely flat for easy transport and transforms into a toddler seat as baby grows.

A Splurge Swing

This Babylist-exclusive high-tech swing is designed to mimic the natural motions parents use when comforting a newborn. It’s even Bluetooth-enabled and can connect to any MP3 device for custom music and compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

A Swing/Rocker Combo

This two-in-one swing + rocker is a great multipurpose option with a range of motion and sound options, and a completely removable rocker you can move around the house.

For more top picks, check out this guide to the Best Bouncers and Swings. And remember, when it comes to choosing a bouncer, swing or rocker for your little one, it’s all about what’s right for you. Whatever you choose, it can be a big help for your tired arms once baby arrives!

This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babylist may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write Babylist content and review products, as well as the Babylist Health Advisory Board.