The Ultimate Baby Swing Sleep Guide For Swing Hating Babies

Newborn baby in jammies sleeping in swing

Studies show babies sleep better in cute jammies.

Step 1: Buy baby swing.
Step 2: Assemble swing.
Step 3. Put baby in swing.
Step 4: Turn swing on.

What, it’s not working for you?

But My Baby Hates the Swing

I have never failed to get a baby to fall asleep. Contrary to what you may have heard, I do not do this by reading my blog posts to babies.

I use baby swings.

Most of you live too far away for me to show you in person how I get babies to fall asleep in baby swings so I’m going to do my best to describe my no-fail baby swing sleep technique here. If you have a newborn baby (0-6 months old) and are struggling with sleep, short naps, etc. I would give the swing a try.

Start with the basic baby swing steps:

  • Run it by your pediatrician. I’ve found they almost unilaterally will support your decision. But best to make sure first.
  • Put the swing where your baby currently sleeps (or sleeps most often). This is probably in your own room and it’s OK if it’s not currently THEIR room (we can easily move in that direction once we’ve mastered the swing). This is our new “sleep spot” and for the next few weeks, the baby should generally sleep in that location, in the swing, round the clock. (It’s OK if a few car/stroller naps sneak in there, it happens.)
  • Make your sleep spot a dark place. Room darkening blinds work great for this. However you can temporarily create a dark space by simply taping aluminum foil to the windows with masking tape. Sure it’s a little ghetto but it works great!
  • Put something in there that will create loud and continuous white noise. White noise will help your baby sleep and (assuming the sleep spot is YOUR room) will also help block the sound of the swing so YOU can sleep.
  • Set up your baby monitor.
  • Move whatever other sleep supplies (swaddling blankets, pacifiers, books, chair for nursing/feeding, etc.) you need so that it’s relatively close to your new baby sleep spot.
  • Put your swing into the sleep spot.
  • Use your swing on the highest speed setting available. For newborns, faster is better.

Put the baby in the swing, strap them in, turn it on, and voilà – baby sleep nirvana!

For some babies, it may be just this simple. If so, congratulations and I hope you are currently enjoying your victory nap. In fact everybody should try to put your baby awake into the swing, turn it on, and walk out of the room. Wait a few minutes (literally – use a timer and don’t go back for 3-5 minutes) and see what happens. Your baby may surprise you.

Or maybe not. In which case we move on to what I like to call the Varsity Sleep Swing technique. We’re going to slather your baby with so much soothing that they will literally be incapable of staying awake. It’s like when I have 2 glasses of wine and then try to watch Masterpiece Theater, only modified for the younger set.

Varsity Sleep Swing Technique

All of the above PLUS:

  • Swaddle your baby. Remember swaddling is all about the arms, having the legs wrapped up doesn’t add anything. So it’s totally fine to leave the legs loose so you can safely strap your baby into the swing with swaddled arms.
  • Put something that smells like Mom near baby’s face. Like that t-shirt you’ve been living in for the past month because you’re too tired to deal with laundry. Cut off a small piece (~6″X6″ nothing large enough to become an entrapment hazard) and put it in the back of the swing near the baby’s face. When not being used for naps/sleeping keep this little piece of t-shirt tucked into your bra during the day so it always smells like you/milk.
  • Use a pacifier. Some babies don’t take to pacifiers but if yours does then by all means use it.
  • Jiggle their head.* Put your swaddled pacifier sucking baby in the swing in the dark room with the white noise. Crouch down behind the swing so they can’t really see you. Push the swing with your arm (the motor is off for now). If your baby is not calming or falling asleep, jiggle the back of the swing left and right WHILE you are swinging it back and forth. The goal here is to have your baby’s cheeks wiggling like a bowl of jello. (Here is a good video example of baby jiggling). You can also shoosh loudly (I know you are rocking the white noise already but for some reason the added shooshing seems to help). Keep it up for 2-3 minutes or until your baby starts to look tired. A great visual cue to look for is the sleepy blink – your baby starts to blink more slowly as though their eyelids are getting heavier. When you start to see sleepy cues turn on the swing motor.
  • (Optional): Nurse baby to sleep while swaddled THEN put them in the swing. NOTE: This is fine to do for younger babies (<4 months) or if you’re struggling to get them to fall asleep any other way. My advice is to play around with other methods to help them fall asleep IN the swing but this is a valid fallback tactic to use in the short run.

*About head jiggling. This is what it sounds like – a jiggle. Shaken baby syndrome is an act of violence that requires forceful slamming motion. It is almost impossible to achieve this level of stress with a baby cradled in a swing but I want to be very clear that we are talking about jiggling vs. violent shaking.

Note: Your baby may be crying/complaining while you are swaddling her and strapping her into the swing. That’s OK. This probably means she’s a bit overtired – she may be short on sleep in general or maybe she was just kept awake a little longer than she could handle. Unless she is hungry this is a really good sign that she needs sleep so take a deep breath and continue to help her fall asleep in the swing.

Short-Term Sleep Swing Goals

I know some of you will feel like the swing is a detour because what you REALLY want is that peanut sleeping in his own crib. But the swing is going to solve two critical short-term issues:


Increase the Total Amount of Sleep

Babies sleep better and longer while moving. There is a reason most babies fall asleep seconds after you start the car. In general, babies will take slightly longer naps (+20-40 minutes) in a swing and newborns who are waking up a lot at night (4+ times) will often drop one of their night feedings after being put to bed in a swing.


Help Baby Learn to Fall Asleep.

Like potty training, getting the straw into the juicebox, and spitting, falling-asleep is a skill that you will need to help your child develop. Early on we help babies fall asleep primarily by rocking and nursing. However as your baby gets older these techniques will start to fail you (I’ll be writing a bunch about this later). If your goal is help your baby become a happy toddler who is capable of sleeping through the night then at some point you will have to help her learn to fall asleep. This can be a real challenge to do without any crying. Unless you use the swing in which case it’s really really easy.

Long-Term Sleep Swing Strategy

  • As your baby gets closer to 6+ months of age you want to gradually wean off the swaddling, pacifier, and swinging. To wean off the swing, simply start turning the speed down. If naps & night sleep remains the same then continue. If she starts waking up more often, she’s not ready and the speed needs to stay up where it was. Wait a week or two, then try again. There is no rush.
  • When you’re ready, move the swing next to the crib so that baby gets used to sleeping in that location.
  • Eventually you’ll find yourself putting baby down for naps/bedtime in a non-moving swing. When you get to this point, the transition to the crib is relatively painless. The first time you put your baby in the crib there may be some “hey this is new?!?” complaining but it is generally mild and ends quickly.
  • If your baby was happily sleeping in a non-moving swing, they SHOULD sleep just as happily in the crib. If, however, after a few “getting used to the new digs” nights you find that the crib-sleep is markedly worse than when they were in the non-moving swing then you may want to investigate the possibility that your child may have reflux. Swing sleepers who have mild reflux may sleep just great while held upright in the swing but terribly when placed on their backs. If you have concerns, definitely talk to your pediatrician.

Anybody else have any ideas on how to get those swing-hating babies to sleep in the swing?
{Photo credits: Bart Cicuto and Pat David}


  1. Hi Alexis! Not sure if you’re still checking comments on this, but I was wondering the best technique to swaddling with the legs out, so we can strap our guy into his swing? We had weaned him off of the swing about a month ago, but decided to try naps again in the swing because he’s been such an awful napper lately. this weekend, we got a 2 hour nap! He hasn’t slept longer than 40 minutes in weeks!

    • I know this is a late reply but in case other parents are reading with the same dilemma…try Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit (Google it). It does the same thing as a swaddle by suppressing the startle reflex, but arms and legs are free and you can strap the baby in. It’s a pretty awesome product that was not available when my first baby was born, but soooo glad it is now!

      • A lot of parents in our Facebook groups swear by the Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit. Our little guy doesn’t like it (yet?) but we’ll try again. Good recommendation.

  2. Just as many have stated, I feel so relieved to have read this blog! I am a mom of two boys: 3.5 y/o and a 4 month old. I can’t even begin to describe how different my parenting experience has been between the two when it comes to sleep. I made the mistake of looking through my first child’s baby book to find out he was sleeping through the night at 3 months old and taking two hour naps during the day! Oh, how that has not been the case. I’m still up every two hours during the night. I’ve approached sleep differently with my second baby for several reasons. I partially breastfeed (low milk supply), and found myself feeding at night and baby falling asleep with me. He sleeps so well in my arms! Or the swing! However, due to my safety fears I decided to try putting him to sleep in the crib next to our bed for naps and for nighttime sleeping. It has been a sleepless, tiring week of tiny catnaps and an unhappy baby…up every one to two hours during the night and only sleeping 15 to 45 min tops for a nap. Upon reading your blog and watching the interview with Dr. Karl, I feel so incredibly relieved that the swing is not unsafe. I watched a youtube video about reclining of his fisher price swing, and he is on the “flattest” position, but it’s not completely flat. The swing is truly what is working for him right now, and this week of me trying to force the crib was not working for either of us. I felt so guilty about using the swing for naps and sleeping. So, why doesn’t AAP acknowledge swings as an option for safe sleeping like Dr. Karp?

    Thank you for your blog!

  3. Hi,

    I hope you’re still checking in on this. I really want to do the swing method because I don’t have the heart for CIO. We tried and I failed miserably. I need a less stressful way to get him to sleep. My LO is almost 8 months old. I was wondering if you think it is possible to work on him? We’ve got to do something. My son is also working on his 9TH TOOTH. Yes 9th at 8 months old. He has been mostly co sleeping to this point. I was able to get him to sleep in his crib a few times but with all of these teeth he’s not happy laying by himself. He is and has need a very light sleeper. We have a white noise machine and he can hear doors closing in his room. When he’s laying next to me those noises don’t bother him. Anywho, lots of yammering later. My main question is do you think the swing method will work for an 8 month old? He goes to sleep by nursing and rocking right now. When he wakes up he will go back to sleep by being rocked. Also to be clear, for the swing method, they sleep in the swing all night?

    • Hi I have an 8 month old as well. Used to be a crap sleeper, and just recently got worse. Stephanie – did u ever get a reply from Alexis?

      • Nope. Never got a reply. I did get an email from this sight and she has completely changed her view point in cry it out. She is now all of sudden all for it. So I think that’s why she stopped replying to these comments.

  4. Most of the moms went under this problem… These guidelines are very useful! Especially for new moms. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I’m curious is it better for them to swing side to side or front to back in a swing

    • I was wondering this same thing too! We have been doing side to side. I tried front/back once and he didn’t sleep any longer so I went back.

  6. Hi and thank you for sharing such great information. I know this post is really old but I’m hoping to still get an answer. Ive been reading through comments and just cant find anyone with my same problem. My son is 7 weeks tomorrow and we have been trying the swing thing for about a week. The problem is, I’ve been traveling with him the last few weekends and I’m not going to be home for more than 5 days in a row for a few months. I know you would tell me to invest in a travel swing, but that’s not my question. At night he has gone as much as 6.5 hours (usually 4.5) and then after that every 2-3 hours not in the swing. HOWEVER, for naps, I can not get him to sleep longer than one 45 min. sleep cycle unless i hold him and bounce him during the transition. He doesnt ever nurse to sleep except middle of the night feedings. He has reflux which is new to me because my first did not. SO HERE IS MY QUESTION: When using the swing for naps (I’m currently bouncing to sleep and then laying him in because he wouldn’t fall asleep on his own even with the varsity techniques), do I accept the nap is over when he wakes up after one sleep cycle, or do I bounce him back to sleep and try and put him in again? Or do I hold him the rest of his nap so I’m not creating a sleep deficit and making things even harder. When he only sleeps 45 min. then obviously it messes up his feedings too. I hope you can reply whenever you get a chance. THANK YOU! I really want the swing to work for us.

    • Great questions, Alisa. Should we let them wake up after the first sleep cycle or put them back to sleep?
      Thank you!

  7. Hi Alexis,

    I got the varsity trchnique to work. My goal is to first get my 5 month old son to sleep without needing us to bounce him and once he’s used to the swing start weaning him off of it.

    My question to you is, I would like to only have him in the swing for naps. Is this possible/doable? At bedtime I would like to nurse him to sleep.


    • Can you do this? Yes.


      Look eventually nursing to sleep at bedtime is going to blow up on you. Maybe it’s working today but I guarantee you that at some point in the future you’ll come to the realization that the nursing to sleep thing is a huge problem. At that point the swing will be done for you (at 5 months you’re already at the tale end of swingdom). Then it’ll be too late and you won’t have great options to gently transition to independent sleep.

      So nurse to sleep at bedtime if you want but I would encourage you to consider how nursing to sleep fits into your long-term sleep plan and possibly reconsider.

  8. Just want to say THANK YOU!! I wish I had found your site a few years ago with my first. We held him for nearly every single nap until he was 6 months old and did CIO. Yeah, we had lots of snuggle time and it was special but it was also maddening too! I vowed not to make the same mistake with our 2nd but we were in the same boat, only able to get him to sleep more than 15 minutes if we were holding him. We finally got him (2.5 months old) to sleep in a swing yesterday after reading your recommendations. I could not fathom how to put down an infant “drowsy but awake” and have them actually go to sleep without crying, but the swing did it! He even slept for almost 2 hours there this morning. My partner and I are amazed. Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge and creating this great community!! Your newest fan, Laura 🙂

  9. Hi,

    Thank you so much for the info!! I love your website and it helped me through the newborn sleep deprived days tremendously!

    I was wondering if you have any suggestions to get my 2.5 months old to nap a little longer. I tried you method, swaddle, turn on the white noise and put him in the swing and he is slowly learning how to fall asleep on his own. But..he wakes every 40 minutes, then I have to pick him up and calm him down then put him back to the swing drowsy. And any noise wakes him, like my dog jumps on my bed or toilet flushing, etc. My baby is just so jumpy and I feel like he is not getting the sleep he needs during the day.

    Any advise is appreciated. Thanks!

  10. I just wanted to say a big Thank You! After many late nights of endless fussing, crying and carrying babying around, my husband and I are exhausted. We tried the swing before but our baby girl hated it… Or so we thought! She screamed and screamed! We applied your techniques tonight including the varsity ones and they worked like a charm, like immediately! You have our heartfelt thanks and gratitude.

  11. Hey Alexis,

    I know you are probably very busy but please try and reply to my question as I have been very anxious and curious for a while now but haven’t had a firm answer from anything or anyone!
    You’re an absolute life saver by the way. Your words of wisdom on these types of posts have saved me a lot of stress and confusion and my daughter (10 weeks old) is happier and I swear healthier than ever.
    She’s been able to get a great amount of sleep – as well as myself lol.

    Anyways my question is
    I’m concerned because say; if I place my daughter in the swing and she sleeps for hours and hours on end (and i’m talking 5-8hour stretches or so) would that be any stress on her back/neck or body to be in that position for such an amount of time – without moving?

    • Hey Jacinta,

      So there is almost no research on baby swings, rock n plays, etc. and this is unfortunate because we would ALL love some real evidence to base our decisions on. As it is all we have to go on is anecdotal evidence which is that no – this doesn’t stress body/neck/etc. There are some doctors who claim that swings exacerbate flat head issues but there is no evidence that it’s any different than a crib. There are others who prefer swings for flat head issues vs. crib. The answer you’ll get on that question depends on which specific doctor you ask.

      I will say there is no reason to think that a motionless swing is more or less “stressful” than a non moving swing. And typically once your child is sleeping well AND falling asleep in a non moving swing, you’re basically ready to transition to the crib. So if you’re WORRIED (not that I believe you have reason to be) the simplest answer is to make the move!

      Hope that helps,

  12. Is 6 months too late to start using the swing as a sleep training tool? Is CIO (after much reading and debate, this is almost certainly in our near future) okay in the swing? Or, if crying is happening either way, should we just go straight to the crib with it and be done?

    Thankful to anyone who may have insight to offer.

    • If he were sleeping in the swing as a general theme prior to this it might not be a bad idea to see if you can gently teach him to fall asleep using the swing. I wouldn’t do full on CIO in the swing. If he’s not historically slept in the swing I wouldn’t be optimistic about it working now and might encourage you to just skip it and move directly to the crib.

      • Thanks for the reply! Sadly the swing hasn’t been the godsend with Baby #2 that it was for Baby #1. But hopefully our days of naps in the wrap and human pacifier-ing in my bed all night are coming to an end!

  13. Your website is great and is a pleasure to rrad

    • blergh comment submitted before I finished it.

      anyhow, I’m in sort of desperate measures here. my 5.5 week old had been sleeping okay. when she was very new, she slept all the time everywhere. she just finished a wonder week and while she is less crank, she has remained clingy. she used to sleep in her swing and now just started to not sleep anywhere except my arms. she has no problem falling asleep. she just won’t stay asleep. this is a problem which is apparently fairly common. any thoughts?

    • So 6 weeks is the PEAK of fussiness and non-sleeping. So it’s entirely expected that you’re struggling. The good news is that things will gradually get easier from this point on. Not like BOOM all better easier, but gradually moving towards an easier place.

      There is no magic juju here. Swaddling, white noise, swing are super helpful. She’s also outgrowing the newborn “sleep anywhere even with lights on” phase so it’s time to start having her nap in a dark room. If you can rock her to sleep while swaddled in your arms and sneak her into the swing, that’s great. Just keep chipping away at it. It’s easy to get frustrated and hold for all naps. But this has the unintended consequence of teaching her that “on mom” is where we sleep. Charming? Yes. Good long-term strategy? No.

      • Thanks Alexis – So during the peak of fussiness, our swing broke. It has been replaced and last night, she was back to “herself.” I nursed her both to sleep and to drowsiness last night and today and she has been falling asleep in the moving swing and giving me good chunks of nap time (an hour to 2 hours – fingers crossed this continues but it’s only been a day).

        What are your thoughts on “motion sleep” not being as enriching as non-moving sleep. It is early but of course my new mom anxiety is already thinking of what happens when I have to wean her off the swing (I saw your post and I know it is doable!).

        Thanks again!

  14. I’m trying the swing method now, as I tried napping in the crib too soon and he wasn’t sleeping . He woke up crying once so far but I jiggled the swing a little, shushed, and he is now asleep again. I’m wondering if he should sleep at night in the swing as well? I have him in the rock n play for sleeping at night, and he sleeps really well in it. Will switching back and forth eventually confuse him? Should I have him in the swing for both until I’m ready to transition to the crib? I don’t know if I should change something that’s working at night haha. Thanks!

  15. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your site! My question is if my 5-week-old is sleeping well in his bassinet at night, should he be napping in it too? At night he sleeps in a Woombie for 3-6 hour stretches, going down pretty easily after I feed him each time. During the day he naps anywhere from 45 minutes to 2+ hours but always needs to be bounced or rocked to sleep, and rarely will stay asleep for long if I put him down in the rock n play. He always needs me to put him to sleep and sleeps best on me. He will be content in the swing for a few minutes awake but won’t fall asleep in it (though I haven’t tried when he’s just about asleep). Seems fine for now but I don’t think I’ll last much longer sitting on the couch with him sleeping on me all day long! Would so appreciate your thoughts.

  16. Hi there! 1) So, my 3month old can go to sleep on his own in the swing, but wakes after 15-30mins!! Any suggestions?! 2)Also, the swing’s slower speeds dont seem to work! Am I going to shoot myself in the foot if I dont buy a new one to do the weaning the way you suggested?! Thank you for your time, and great writing! 🙂

    • Did you ever get an answer? My swing is the same?

      • Hi, nope I didn’t get a reply. My now 10month old is fully assisted to sleep 🙂 and wakes thru the night, so I dont have any advice for you, other than it does go very quickly, its much easier if you embrace that you have a wakey baby, rather than trying to change it (which I spent 7 months doing!) I have a 4 year old too – he was exactly the same, and now he politely tells me I can leave before he goes to sleep – they do grow out of it! If you can wait! 🙂 Best of luck xx

  17. Hi! So my baby is almost 6 months old and was sleeping through the night since 2 months. He had a terribly late bedtime (12am and wake at 7 am) but it was manageable for me cause I’m stay at home mom. About 3 weeks ago that changed. We had a issue or two I the past due to reflux but this is different. He wakes 4-5 times a night. Eyes closed. Not hungry (he stopped night feelings months ago but treats 7 am bottle like a night feeding unfortunately) and not in pain. Diaper is fine all he seems to want is quick cuddle then bad to bed only to wake hour later! It’s adorable but I’m a zombie at this point. Up until now he slept perfectly in his arms reach co sleeper. Then the packnplay with a wedge for reflux. But I’m trying swing method because only thing I can come up with is separation anxiety or waking and seeing I’m not there. Because I’ve always rocked and sang him to sleep. Plus loud fan white noise. I’m starting to think he’s surpassed swing training though because he’s still wakes 4 times a night. Do I just let him cry? It’s so hard but I feel like I’m training him to wake like this. Please if you are able to let me know. Thank you.

  18. Also we’ve gotten reflux under control and I can tell it’s not that- he really just wants cuddle then sleep again but after 3 weeks of sleeping in 45 minute incriments I’m at my wits end

  19. Alexis-
    Let me say that this article saved us (and my daughter) more than 3 years ago. She now sleeps like a champ, and I’m pretty sure we have you to thank (also I’m not sure she would’ve made it much further with the level of exhaustion we were exhibiting!)
    I’m now back for my 12 week old. We’ve been rocking him to sleep, then I remembered your site. Last week we initiated the “varsity swing method”. Day one he was asleep within 15 minutes. A week later not only are we forced to continue the extreme level of soothing (bouncing swing (not just head jiggle, but jiggling the whole swing), loud white noise, swaddle, swing on full blast) but it’s now taking 30-40 minutes and he’s only napping 45 after all that. Our swing has been so abused from all the forced swinging and bouncing it doesn’t swing as fast anymore, but it seems once he’s asleep he doesn’t care how fast he’s going.
    If we just swing him, he starts screaming within 10 minutes. We’ve tried the rocking to drowsy then put him in, and he wakes right up and starts crying. I’m at my wits end. Is it too soon? Should we invest in a new swing that actually has a “high” swinging motion? I should probably add too that he was diagnosed with reflux close to 2 months old and has been on meds since. We haven’t even tried the crib by he doesn’t like being flat. He does like being on his side, so in the swing, he’s always padded so he’s on his side.
    You saved us once, any advice?! Thank you!!!! I love reading your articles

    • I know you posted this quite a while ago, but I’m just starting this with my 14 week old. We are in the exact same shoes. He will fall asleep, but after some seriously vigorous jiggling! I was wondering how it went for you? Were you ever able to reduce the jiggling and just start swinging?

  20. Hey Alexis!

    I read this article a while back when my newborn wasn’t sleeping and appeared to hate the swing. It was a life saver.

    Now my little one is close to 12 weeks old and will only sleep in the swing if I rock her really fast in it until she falls asleep. The swing,(snugapuppy), doesn’t seem to rock fast enough to get her to fall asleep without my assistance. Once she’s asleep any speed seems to be ok as long as it’s on, and she’ll occasionally sleep in the bassinet. Getting her to sleep is the biggest problem, and as she gets older she seems annoyed by what used to work… Which was comfort feeding, patting her on the back, and rocking in the chair. No naptime/bedtime is without some tears. Also, she gets fussy and needs to start winding down after 45 minutes of awake time. She falls asleep after an hour total of being awake… But she will. not. sleep. anywhere but her swing, swaddled, with white noise in the dark… If I’m out during a nap time it’s just major fussy town that leads to screaming. She hates the car. I’m feeling major cabin fever here. Do I have to just accept I’ve got a sleep challenged baby and stick it out until she’s older? How do other moms handle this? I see mom’s on the go all the time and taking trips and I just can’t understand how! Any tips or suggestions about this??

    Thanks so much,

    • Not all kids are mobile, sadly. Mine also could only sleep under a very specific set of circumstances. She needs MORE soothing than the car or what have you, so yes, a bit of cabin fever is par for the course.

      I used to invite people over to MY house (mess and all) because it was to hard to get out 😛

      I will say that 45 minutes of wake time is short for a 3 month old so I’m wondering if it might be worth pushing through a bit of fussy to see if you can extend that. And by doing so, reduce the amount of furious rocking it takes to get her to FALL asleep. I would experiment with slightly longer wake times, especially later in the day, and see where that gets you.

    • Isn’t it mystifying?? I just had my fourth and none of my kids have been very portable. After my first two, I was convinced there was something wrong with the car seat so we got a new one. Nope. :/ Thank goodness it doesn’t last forever!

  21. My son is currently one and a half months old. He has reflux rather badly. And lately all we get is maybe 20 minute naps. He’ll only sleep longer if I’m holding him. I’ve thought about trying the swing but my only concern is leaving it on all night. Is it safe to have the swing running so long?

  22. Hi! Few questions. I would like to try this swing method with my 4 month old. How long does this whole process usually take?? Also how long should you wait in between speeds typically. And lastly— the transition to their crib– won’t this be difficult since then swing is a seat and then bed is flat??

    • Hi! check our Alexis’ post on using the swing to teach the baby to fall asleep:
      (specifically the section on using the swing)

      it answers your questions on how long to wait, how to transition. I used this method for my baby for his naps, and it worked great! He was almost 5 months at the time and it took about a week for us. Good luck!

      • trying to understand the swing method, I currently rock sing 5 1/2 month to sleep and he sleeps for a 4-5 hr starch in his crib before he wakes and wasn’t to nurse and ends up in his sidecar, so with the swing method I leave him in the swing with it going all night?
        Thanks so much it’s probably obvious but hey mom brain

  23. Dear Alexis,

    Thank you for your frank but empathetic approach to advising tired, anxious parents. Being given “permission” to let my 4-month-old motion junkie nap in a swing was a turning point for me, resulting in far more daytime sleep for baby and far less frustration for me. At night, baby sleeps in a bassinet by our bed. It still takes an hour of routine and 20 minutes of fussing, but I have seen definite progress since she started putting herself to sleep in the swing at nap time.

    Since she can put herself to sleep on a flat motionless surface without much help at night (I’m in the room, but not close by or participating), would you skip the swing method and go straight to sleep training in the crib (which is in her own room)?

    Also, would you recommend doing that in a hurry, before object permanence kicks in? I like having her in our room, but she’s outgrowing the bassinet and I think tapering off her night feedings will be easier when she is no longer one foot from my head (and chest) all night.

    Thanks so much for your help!

  24. Hi Alexis,

    We read about your swing method online and have been trying it with our 4 month old. I’m stressed because we have turned the swing to a high setting and our LO is still crying for 10-15 minutes before she goes to sleep. I was really hoping this would be a no cry method. So now I’m wondering, since she is crying anyway, should we just skip straight to the crib?

    • You can try. Who knows, maybe she would cry 10 minutes and fall asleep. Maybe not.

      Truthfully I can’t get that wrapped up about 10 minutes of crying. I gather this stresses YOU out but from MY perspective this is nothing. Some kids spout of a tiny bit before sleeping. This is not a sign of a problem or cause for distress. This is simply how things are. I don’t know what you’re using the swing to get OUT of but if 10 minutes of complain leads to your child falling asleep independently then I would argue it’s working swimmingly!

      Technically she’s falling asleep with motion and you may find that the crib (no motion) takes far more than 10 minutes of crying. IF that happens you’ll have to decide how you want to proceed. You either a) fully commit to the crib EVEN IF tears ensue or b) go back to the swing and use the swing weaning technique I suggest to more gradually transition to the crib. Good luck!

      • Thank you Alexis, we will stick with the swing!!

      • Hi Alexis,

        I want to thank you for this web site and your response to my concerns above. For a new parent, this site is a wonderful resource!

        I wanted to let you know how the swing method went for us. Now, since I’ve used the method and seen the results, I realize how hilarious my initial anguished message above must have seemed to you. I never told you what we were using the swing to get out of. It was bad. Every night, around 7pm, LO would furiously cluster feed and fall asleep in my lap. After she fell asleep, I wanted her to keep sleeping, so I refused to leave the nursery until we all went to bed at 10pm to co-sleep in the family bed. That’s right. I used to sit in a dark nursery all by myself, listening to white noise, for three hours a night, not even eating dinner most nights because I was afraid it would wake LO up. And naps? Even worse. The only place she would nap was the ErgoBaby, so I would strap her on three times a day, put on the Baby Einstein music, and walk around my apartment. For three or more hours a day. Couldn’t eat, go to the bathroom, or even sit, because when I stopped walking, she would wake up. This all went on for an embarrassingly long time before my husband said ENOUGH and begged me to figure out a solution. That’s when I found your site and we got excited to try your swing method. I had wanted to find a gentle method that wouldn’t result in 2 hours of screaming every night, and your plan gave us hope.

        We began the swing method in the middle of her fourth month. To our surprise, in a week and half, LO went from 10 minutes of crying to falling asleep as soon as her head touched the swing. For naps, the 10 minutes of crying turned into intermittent yelps, and after about 2 weeks, there was barely any fuss before napping. I now had time to eat and go to the bathroom during the day. And we now had a “happy hour” in our home every night between 7-10 pm, and gradually, that extended to 7-11 pm before she woke up for her first dream feed. At 11 pm, we would take her out of the nursery and we would all get into the family bed for another night of co-sleeping.

        We were content to continue with this plan, gradually lowering the swing speed & eventually going from non-moving swing to crib, when something unexpected happened. One night, about three and half weeks into the swing method, LO loudly protested about being put into the swing. Arching her back, screaming, flailing arms when we tried to strap her in. It was crazy because it came out of nowhere. She went from being pleasantly drowsy but awake to full on protesting as soon as we put her in the swing. We got her strapped in that night and she slept normally, but it made us wonder what to do next. We were worried because, around this time, her naps were also getting shorter, and the swing and all the good nap cues were not helping.

        The next day/night, the protests continued. She was so unhappy about getting into that swing and I was stressed. Naps were shorter than ever, clocking in at 30 minutes. So, at bedtime, out of desperation, I put her into her crib. Luckily, the crib had already been next to the swing from the start, and luckily, we had already outfitted the crib mattress with a soft, fuzzy sheet that never gets cold. So I felt like it might work. I threw her in, turned on the baby monitor, closed the door, and waited . . . for only 20 minutes. Yup. Just like you said, she fussed for that exact amount of time, and then . . . SHE FELL ASLEEP. And she slept for the next five hours.

        Emboldened by this unexpected success, I decided to try the crib for her first nap the next day, too. It took her 25 minutes to fall asleep, and she again only slept for 30 minutes, but she did it. Following your advice, I tried to go back to the swing for her other two naps, but the same general misery described above ensued, so we decided to just forget it. She’s been napping in her crib ever since. This all happened just 3 days ago.

        So where are we now? Things aren’t perfect, but we have made progress. LO now goes to sleep effortlessly in her crib. Bed time is a mellow, relaxing, but QUICK part of the day for everyone, and as soon as LO’s body hits the crib mattress, she settles herself into a comfy position and passes out. Because she is sleeping so well in her crib, we have also decided to transition out of co-sleeping. Now, instead of the whole night, LO only spends between 3-6 am in our bed. We plan to gradually reduce that, so that she is sleeping in her crib the whole night from 6 months on. We will also follow your advice about night weaning and try it sometime between 6-8 months, when she seems ready.

        Naps continue to be a challenge, but it doesn’t always take 20 minutes for her to fall asleep. Sometimes, she falls asleep for a nap in under 10 minutes. The most interesting thing is that there is almost no crying. She just plays in her crib quietly until she falls asleep. In addition, though the majority of her naps continue to be a frustrating 30 minutes, she is working towards longer naps. We are using all your suggestions to end short naps, and once a day, I have been leaving her in her crib for an hour, and she has put herself back to sleep within 10 minutes after waking up, usually going on to sleep for another 45-50 minutes. I keep reminding myself that we only made our sudden transition to the crib 3 days ago, so we are going to stick with it for the next 2 weeks and be patient.

        I wanted to share my story to say thank you. I cannot believe how far we have come in just one month just by reading your web site. My biggest realization in all of this is that sleep training is not the horribly abusive thing that some make it out to be. After we got out of the newborn stage, I spent weeks avoiding sleep training, all the while not seeing that I actually was making LO suffer – she protested every time I shoved her in the carrier for a nap, she whined every night at bedtime until I put her to sleep nursing. And every time she woke up at night, she’d wake up unhappy and cry out for me to nurse her back to sleep. I could have continued in this manner for months or even years, thinking I was being kind and gentle because I was NOT sleep training, all the while leaving my child more and more unhappy and dependent on me. Now, she has learned how to put herself to sleep, and when she wakes up at night, she just turns her head to the other side and keeps sleeping. And we will get there with the naps. Your site has showed us that planning and persistence do work, and that it is possible to instill good sleep skills in a baby without any horrific scenes. We were lucky to find your site before it was too late. You’ve changed our lives for the better.

  25. My 16 week old (13 weeks adjusted) sleeps like a champ at night, often 9 hrs straight although we’re getting more wake-ups lately. I have trouble getting her to nap without being on my body. Sometimes the swing works and sometimes it doesn’t. Night sleep is in the Bassinest next to our bed, but our room is small and there’s no space for a swing, so it’s in her nursery next to the crib. I have a black-out curtain in the window and loud white noise, but she’s still resisting the swing unless she’s asleep when I put her in it and even then sometimes she’s awake and crying within a few minutes. Any ideas on what might help at this point?

  26. Hi Alexis-

    I exclusively pump and bottle feed my 15 week old my breast milk. She eats 4.5oz every 3 hours. She naps 1-2 times at 1-2 hours a day. Sometimes cat naps as well. We have been trying to get her feeding schedule to where she eats at 8-8:30PM and put her down in bassinet by 9PM. I know we should be putting her down earlier but she seems to wake earlier when we do that. She wakes at 2AM and I reswaddle her and rock her back to sleep and then up again at 4AM and is restless until we feed her at 6AM. We have tried to dream feed her and change her but she is still restless through the night. We have bought 4 swings – YES four! And she would cry in them all. We recently bought one with 6 settings and she falls asleep at the highest setting. Hallelujah! Would you suggest I have her sleep in the swing all night at the highest setting at this stage?

    Thanks so much for your help 🙂


    • Thank you!! As a mom of 4, Grandma of 2 and also a babysitter of many , many, newborns, the swing has been a savior!! My daughter read that swings are dangerous and thinks I’m horrible for using one. I don’t understand the AAPs hate on swings! Babies were MADE to recline! Our arms are recliners. Since the beginning of time, reclining and rocking has been the easiest, safest way to get a baby to sleep. Now, all of a sudden swings are a SIDS risk?! Hooey. Common sense. That’s what it’s all about. You make sure they are reclined, maKe sure nothing blocks their face, make sure you check on them consistently. Absolutely nothing wrong with napping in the swing. Thank goodness for people like you online. Thank you!

    • I have a similar situation at night with my 11 week old….any tips or should I just chalk it up to a phase and not worry about it? Been going like this since about 8 weeks old.

  27. Baby is 3.5 months

    She goes to sleep beautifully at night: I nurse her, wait until she’s very close to asleep, but sometimes completely asleep depending on how does doing, put her in the cribvmb, and she’s fine until her next feeding. Sometimes I see her wiggling or making our noises in the monitor but she fails back to sleep on her own.

    Naps are a different story. She will only sleep for a decent amount of time (<1 hour) if she's in my lap, on my nursing pillow. If I put her down, get eyes open immediately and she's ready to play. Should I keep her in the crib even though she woke up? How long? If I do swing during the day but not at night, will that ruin the good sleep she's doing?

    I'd like to avoid the swing/totally dark room so I can go somewhere like my parents house, if possible. So if keeping her in the crib is an ok choice and she'll eventually learn, I'm fine with that.

    • And she wakes up immediately in all locations – we’ve tried crib, bassinet, swing, and rock & play.

      • Sorry for all the replies, can’t edit!

        One other issue is she’s highly distractable so she’ll fight sleep to look around.

        If I pick her up when she wakes up immediately and smiles, she’s good to go and super happy. If I leave her and try to force her to sleep and she doesn’t actually sleep, she gets cranky. I have a reverse baby?

  28. What are your thoughts on swings vs. bouncers? Some parents say that swings are generally better at getting babies to nap, but other parents say that bouncers are better options for a baby that you want to teach to self-soothe.

  29. I wanted to add another testament for the swing. My 2 month old baby girl has been a motion junkie since birth. After exiting the sleepy-newborn-I’ll-fall-asleep-for-any-reason phase she would not sleep in a crib, bassinet, or bed. Just when I was about to lose my mind from total sleep deprivation due to holding her 24 hours a day, she started sleeping nights in her crib with 2-4 nursing wake ups. Her naps remained total crap. Ten minutes after being laid down in the crib asleep (putting her awake in the crib ahahahaha, you joke), she’d pop back awake despite swaddling, loud white noise, and darkness. Even her naps on me weren’t that great — 45 minutes was a major victory and that required multiple settlings by jiggling the second she started stirring. After reading Alexis’s amazing posts, we bought a swing and got several 2 hour naps in just 2 days. (Full disclosure: the swing can still take finesse, including harnessing a sleepy baby with velvet smooth movements, and knowing the right prayer to say so the click of the harness does not wake her up). Just say it to yourself: if naps aren’t a thing, BUY THE SWING.

  30. Hi Alexis!

    I am trying this with my two month old. Previously he was getting nursed or rocked to sleep and had to be held. He is falling asleep well in the swing, but still only sleeps for 30-45 min naps. At night, he sleeps 4 hours, but then is up every hour after that. I was resorting to co-sleeping and nursing every hour the second half of the night previously. Trying to stick to the swing, but every hour is pretty tiresome. Any tips on increasing his nap or night sleep durations??

    Thanks for a great post!

  31. What are your thoughts on swings vs. bouncers? Some parents say that swings are generally better at getting babies to nap, but other parents say that bouncers are better options for a baby that you want to teach to self-soothe.

  32. Wow! Thank you so much for this!! My son hates the swing. He’s 7weeks old and we couldn’t get him to nap anywhere but on us. That makes for one tired and frusterated mama. I exclusively pump due to latch issues and it’s all been a nightmare. Couldn’t pee or even eat without him but as we speak he is swaddled and listening to white noise in his swing and I get to pumpnin peace while I write this! Today is only day 1 but hopefully we can continue this so I can have some sanity

  33. Thank you Alexis for your blog – it’s been a beacon of sanity the last few weeks as we’ve tried to survive the 4 month sleep regression.

    We just started the swing technique with our baby and it worked like a CHARM the first day. Now we’re on night 2 and he fussed a bit when we put him down, and now is waking up every 15-30 minutes screaming bloody murder. We have been going in and plugging him with a paci and he falls asleep instantly. Then he wakes up 15 min later and we repeat.

    My question is – for a baby who falls asleep easily-ish initially in the swing, how do you deal with wake ups when you know for sure they’re fed/dry/burped?

    Thanks again!

  34. First, I’m a huge fan of the swing method – I found your blog when my daughter was an infant and it worked like a charm (with some consistency and hard work on our part too!) to get her to take longer naps. It was a no brainer to dust off the swing (and buy your new book!) when my son was born earlier this year. It was a much longer process with him to turn down the swing, but after about 3 months, he’s taking long (1.5-2.5 hrs) naps in a still swing. The caveat is that we have to manually swing the swing to get him to fall asleep, then he sleeps great in the still swing. About 50% of the time I can get him to fall asleep on his own for the first nap of the day, but he has to be swung to sleep for the other 2 naps. He’s now 7 months old and getting too big for the swing. We just transitioned him to the crib at night and he’s putting himself to sleep 75% of the time, otherwise he has to be walked/bounced til he’s dead asleep and carefully put in the crib, but then sleeps through until between 5am-7am.

    So, he has a sleep association with being walked/bounced to sleep. It seems to only effect his falling asleep for naps (and sometimes for night) but not necessarily his staying asleep. I’ve read enough of your blog and book to know, however, that its only a matter of time before this becomes a big problem unless I find a way to get him to fall asleep independently.

    What do I do? Do I turn the swing back on so at least there’s no human involved in putting him to sleep? Or do I take this opportunity to oust the swing, put him in the crib and slowly reduce the amount of pre-bed rocking? Or do I head over to CIO-ville and just try to nip this in the bud fast and dirty? (don’t think i’m desperate enough for this option…yet.)

    Thanks for any suggestions or words of wisdom!


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