Baby Rocker: The Complete Buying Guide For Parents
A calm, happy baby is priceless. And if you can catch a few hands-free minutes at some point in the day, even better! These are two of the reasons that many parents turn to baby rockers and the like.
But, as with all baby products, you need to know what you’re buying, how to use it safely, and what to take into account when making your choice. That’s what we’re here for.
In this article, we’ll go over the differences between baby rockers, baby bouncers, and baby swings. Then we’ll cover the most important topic: baby rocker safety.
Last but not least, we’ll also provide a few questions to ask yourself when you’re shopping for a baby rocker.
Baby Rockers, Bouncers, And Swings
With all of the baby products on the market, it can be hard to figure out what’s what. If you want to get a baby rocker but are confused about the differences between rockers and other items, here’s a brief rundown.
A baby rocker is similar to the rocking chair you might have on your front porch, except it’s for little ones! Your baby reclines in the rocker, and the curved base provides a gentle rocking motion when you give it a push.
This item does exactly what it sounds like — it bounces your baby.
Unlike a rocker, the base of a baby bouncer is flat, but the seat is designed to bounce up and down with a slight touch or simply when your baby kicks and moves.
There are also battery-powered bouncers that keep the bounce going for you.
A baby swing consists of a little chair that swings back and forth with a push or with an automated swinging motion. You can find both battery-powered and plug-in swings.
Why Do You Need A Baby Rocker?
First, it’s important to note that while rockers, bouncers, and swings are nice to have, they aren’t must-haves. That category belongs to diapers, wipes, car seats, cribs, and the like.
While children can (and do) survive without them, rockers are convenient baby gear that offers a protected spot for a baby to stay put while mom or dad goes hands-free.
Anyone who’s ever looked after a baby can tell you how difficult it is to get a few minutes to do everyday things — like take a shower, get dressed, or even read a book — without your little one demanding attention.
Rockers make it easier to get a break from holding your baby all the time. Whether you’re cooking, doing some household chores, or just trying to relax (something all parents of newborns need!), having a safe spot to place your little one can come in handy.
Baby rockers are also great entertainment for babies. The repetitive motion and the music or toys usually attached to the chairs can be lots of fun. If you’ve ever seen a big grin as a baby rocks back and forth, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about!
In addition, rockers are great for children because:
- Their ergonomic design gives babies the feeling that they’re being held. This helps provide them with the comfort they need.
- They’re portable and easy to pack — ideal for taking along when traveling.
- The rocking motion can help develop your child’s balance because swaying enhances the vestibular system.
Baby rockers can also help fussy babies calm down.
So, while rockers aren’t a necessity, they can be very valuable for both parent and child if you do have a budget for them.
What Ages Are Baby Rockers For?
Whether you decide to purchase a rocker, bouncer, or swing, it’s important to note that these are all best for babies from birth to six months old or until they can sit up by themselves.
All babies are unique and will naturally develop differently. That’s why it’s also helpful to check the age and weight specifications on the label to ensure that you’re using the right item for your child.
With that in mind, if you’re hoping to place your newborn in a rocker, you’ll want to pay close attention to them while they’re in it. That’s because newborns sleep a lot (14-17 hours a day) and the rocker position can increase the risk of suffocation, among other concerns.
Keep reading for more information on rocker safety.
Baby Rocker Safety
Keeping your little one safe is your number one priority! That means there are a few things to think about when using a baby rocker.
We’ll go over those safety considerations before giving you tips to choose the perfect rocker for your little one.
Don’t Let Your Baby Sleep In Their Rocker
We know — lots of baby rockers are marketed as a comfy, soothing place for your little one to nap. But the truth is they’re not the safest place for your baby to sleep.
The Delaware Healthy Mother and Infant Consortium says this:
“... rocker chairs are a popular item for new parents. Shop online or in stores and you will see the product with a picture of a peaceful, happy baby. These products claim to soothe your baby. They are usually soft and cushiony to keep your baby comfortable and happy. While this sounds like every parent’s dream, products like this are not safe for a sleeping baby.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, baby sleep safety means that they sleep on their backs on a firm surface without anything else in their crib (no pillows, blankets, crib bumpers, etc.).
Baby rockers simply don’t make the cut.
The main concerns are that your little one could get tangled in the straps or that their head might fall forward, increasing the risk of suffocation.
The bottom line is this: Don’t use your baby rocker as a place for your infant to sleep. If you do catch them dozing off, move them to their crib, which should be empty other than a crib mattress and a fitted sheet.
For the most peace of mind, opt for a breathable crib mattress, such as Newton Baby’s. Made with our Wovenaire® Core, this mattress is more breathable than leading organic mattresses.
At Newton, we also believe in safe sleep practices. Whether your little one is snoozing at night or taking a short nap in their crib, be sure to:
- Place them on their back and not their stomach or sides
- Ensure that the room temperature is just right (between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Keep their crib in your room for a year (or at least six months)
The above precautions will help keep your little one safe while sleeping. They will also help reduce the chance of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), which is usually associated with sleep.
Always Put The Rocker On The Floor
When you’re using a rocker or bouncer, it’s tempting to set it on the kitchen counter or table so your baby is on your level where you can keep an eye on them.
However, this isn’t safe. Never put a baby rocker on an elevated surface.
Similarly, make sure the rocker is on a hard surface so that it doesn’t tip over. Placing it on the couch or your bed, for example, is a no-go.
Don’t Move The Rocker When Your Baby Is In It
Another tip to avoid an unwanted accident: don’t move the baby rocker from one place to another while your little one is in it.
If you need to switch rooms, take your baby out before transferring the rocker.
Supervise Your Baby
A baby rocker is a great way to keep your little one soothed and happy, but that doesn’t mean you can leave them alone. Adult supervision is in order!
Keep an eye on your baby whenever they’re relaxing in the rocker.
Strap Your Baby In
Your baby rocker comes with straps for a reason! Strap your baby in to keep them safely in the rocker, and always check to be sure the straps are just right — not too loose and not too snug.
Check The Weight Limit
You might want your baby to stay tiny forever, but at some point, they will outgrow their rocker. And that moment might not be far away!
You’ll need to stop using the rocker once your baby exceeds the weight limit (check the packaging for this information) or learns to sit.
Put Newborns In A Reclined Position
Newborns don’t have the muscle development to hold their heads up properly (this is what tummy time is for!), which means sitting up isn’t a good option. Instead, they should always be reclined when you put them in a bouncer or baby rocker.
Trisha Korioth writes for the American Academy of Pediatrics and says, “Infants under age 4 months should be seated in the most reclined swing position to avoid slumping over and suffocating.”
Be Careful With Hand-Me-Down Baby Rockers
The minute you find out you’re expecting, you probably want to start shopping for all the baby items you’ll need for your little one. And, as you may already know, the list can really add up!
So, if a hand-me-down comes your way from a close friend or family member, this is often welcomed as it can help you save a little cash.
While second-hand items are great for extending your budget, they may not always be the best choice because it can be more challenging to know their safety features and ratings.
To be clear, there's no problem with previously used baby rockers. Just make sure that they have all the necessary parts and meet the current safety standards.
Before placing your little one in the rocker, check for any rough edges that may harm them and that the harness is still working correctly. This basic safety check will give you peace of mind when you place your baby inside.
And, if you're unsure about the chair's safety for any reason, you can use a baby doll to test it out first!
Choosing A Baby Rocker: Factors To Consider
Keeping all of those safety tips in mind, it’s time to choose a baby rocker for your nursery! Here are a few factors to consider for one that’s safe, fun, and works for your home and family.
How Long Will You Use It?
We’ll go ahead and answer this question for you: not very long. As we mentioned above, you’ll need to stop using your baby rocker when your little one can sit up. In other words, a few months.
While you should still choose a high-quality baby rocker, keep in mind that this isn’t a long-term investment.
Do You Want Gadgets?
Decide whether or not you want a baby rocker with gadgets like toys, lights, and music. There’s a wide variety of rockers, bouncers, and swings, so you have plenty to choose from!
Does It Need Batteries Or A Plug?
Some rockers are sleek and straightforward and require nothing more than a soft push to get your baby rocking. Other rockers, bouncers, and swings use batteries or a plug to play music, vibrate, swing, rock, or light up.
What kind you choose is entirely up to you.
How Much Space Do You Have?
Before adding your favorite baby rocker to your online shopping cart, make sure you have enough room for it in the nursery (or wherever you’ll be using it).
If you’re working with a small space, take that into account when choosing furniture and baby items.
Will You Travel With It?
If you’re on the go a lot and your baby will be along for the ride, think about if you’ll travel with your baby rocker. If so, take that into account when shopping around. You can find one that is light and foldable.
Can You Clean It Easily?
There’s no doubt that babies are perfect and precious, but they can also be quite messy! As with all baby items, your rocker should be easy to clean.
At Newton Baby, we’ve made easy-to-clean a priority for all of our products. That’s why our Crib Mattress Cover is removable and 100% washable. But it’s not only that. Our Crib Mattress itself is washable from cover to core.
Bye-bye, mold, bacteria, and allergens!
Is More Padding Better?
When thinking of cozy baby rockers, you might assume that more cushioning is better for your little one’s comfort. But this is a false assumption and could actually endanger your baby.
To be on the safe side, search for a seat that is comfortable yet not excessively cushioned. You don’t want your child to turn their head and be in danger of suffocating from excess cushioning covering their face.
Is It Certified?
Any product intended to be used for or by children needs to adhere to strict safety measures. If you live in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico, look for the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification for any product you buy, including baby rockers.
The JPMA sample tests their certified products annually or after a material change at an independent laboratory to guarantee it meets the highest safety requirements.
If you have a specific baby rocker you’ve been eyeing, you can either check for certification from the brand or look on the JPMA website. If there’s a lack of transparency from a manufacturer, then this should be a red flag.
Does It Need A Sun Shade?
On sunny days when the weather conditions are just right, you may want to take your little one outside. But just because you're in the mood for some sun doesn't mean that your baby should be exposed to its harmful rays. This is where sun shading comes in handy.
Opt for baby rockers that come with sun shading because they are ideal for those hot summer days. It's important to note, though, that you might not need this accessory if you aren’t planning on being outside a lot or traveling for the first six months of your baby’s life.
Also, if your little one is too old to use their baby rocker by the time it is summer in your state, then this piece may not be necessary.
No matter how much time your baby will spend in the sun, always protect their delicate skin with sunscreen that's specifically designed with them in mind.
Do You Want Entertainment Features?
Different entertainment features can help your little one enjoy their time in a baby rocker.
Music is a standard feature for most baby rockers and can stimulate your baby’s brain and keep them entertained. You may have to hear the same songs over and over again, but your little one will love hearing the tunes.
Vibrating seats are also a great option. The gentle vibrations can calm infants and create a peaceful environment. Keep in mind these aren’t found in all models, so you may have to pay a bit more if you're searching for this particular feature.
Like vibrating, lights are also not found on most traditional rockers, and the ones that do come with them are usually more expensive. But little ones love to watch the different patterns and colors of light!
Remember that according to sleep safety guidelines, a baby rocker isn’t the safest place for your little one to snooze. Always put your baby to sleep on their back on a firm sleep surface — ideally, Newton Baby’s Crib Mattress — without anything else in their crib.
But a baby rocker can come in handy if you’re using it to calm and soothe your baby or give yourself a little hands-free time! When choosing a rocker, take into consideration the questions we listed and, most of all, the safety tips.
Then sit back and relax as your little one happily rocks away!