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Seems like this item is one of those must-haves. What kind did your child like? Is there a feature set that seems important? Thanks.
Baby Number Three is 7 months oldnow, and is much more mellow, but we have really used our baby swing a lot with this one too, from the time he was a few weeks old. Sometimes he swings so mommy and daddy can cook dinner or do laundry, and sometimes he takes his nap in the swing. I think it is really useful.
I can't recommend any specific brand but I do have some specific recommendations about what to look for in a swing.
I recommend not getting the high-end swings with all the bells and whistles. They can be hard to operate because of all the different modes and settings, 90% of which you will never use. Personally, I just want to put the baby in and turn it on, and not have to press button one three times and turn switch two to the left to make it go. Our low-end swing has two speeds only - fast and slow. We really only used one speed - fast.
Most swings nowadays probably are battery operated. This is a big improvement over the old days when you had to run back over there every few minutes to wind it up again, praying that the baby wouldn't wake up during the process. Also I think most of the new ones don't have a bar across the top, so you can slide baby in and out easily. It is 100 times easier to get the baby in and out of a top-loading swing than the front-loading ones, so look for that too. If the front tray swings open easily, that's even better. (Note: some friends of ours didn't realize the front tray on theirs would open, and they spent 6 months wedging that baby in and out behind the tray until one day we visited and they watched us take our baby out the easy way. Just goes to show you - read the manual if you have one, or if it's a second hand swing, spend a few minutes examining the underneath and back of the swing to make sure you know how it works!)
Some of the fancy swings play music or vibrate. You probably will never use this - the swinging action is the point of having a swing and the other stuff is just fluff. I would recommend getting one that has a seat that reclines all the way back so baby can sleep without pitching forward. (Again, READ THE MANUAL! Or if you have a used one, look behind the back of the seat and figure out how far it will go back - some other friends of ours never used their swing because they didn't realize the seat would recline!)
The swings with the tray on the front with little toys and things are in my opinion pretty useless. In our case, by the time our baby was big enough to reach out and grab a toy, he was too big for the swing.
If you have a choice in the matter, you also might want to consider the swing's appearance. It's big and cumbersome and is going to be a major feature of your living room for a chunk of time - can you stand looking at it day in and day out 24 x 7? I couldn't deal with bright happy pastels and Winnie or Micky greeting me every morning over coffee so I was happy when I found a boring navy blue plaid.
All in all I would say: battery operated is good, reclining seat is good, top loading is good. But other options don't matter that much -- the simpler, the better. Also I recommend borrowing one, or buying a used one, because really there are only a few months when you'll use it. Ginger
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