As new parents, choosing the right baby equipment can be an overwhelming decision. There are so many options in the market - from cradles and bassinets to swings and bouncers. Two popular choices for newborns are baby cradles and cloth baby swings. However, which one is safer for your little bundle of joy? 

Get the best for you from 1st Step

When your newborn arrives, finding the best sleep space that can give comfort and soothe is a priority. 1st Step cradles are specially designed with your little one's comfort and well-being in mind. 

Our cradles meet all current safety standards to help give parents peace of mind. Features like firm, flat mattresses and closely spaced slats help create a cozy environment free from hazards.

In those first few months, 1st Step cradles are wonderful for daytime snoozes when you're nearby to keep a watchful eye. Babies under 4 months who haven't yet learned to roll or push up are perfect cradles babies. 

You can place the cradle right beside your bed so it's easy to monitor your newborn's breathing and position at a glance. This allows you to ensure they feel safe and secure as they sleep.

Let's break down the key differences between cradles and swings to help you make the right choice.

Baby Cradle vs Cloth Swing

Baby Cradles

A baby cradle is a small bed that is designed in such a way that it mimics the womb environment. It has high, slatted sides to prevent the baby from rolling out and is usually rocked back and forth by hand. 

Some key things to know about cradles:

  1. Cradles come in a variety of styles, from traditional wood to compact portable options. They provide a contained sleeping space for newborns.
  2. The rocking motion can help soothe the baby to sleep. However, some experts warn that too much rocking could get the baby used to motion to sleep.
  3. The slatted sides allow for airflow but also create gaps that small fingers or toes could get stuck in. 
  4. Placing a cradle near furniture or wall mountings introduces potential fall hazards if the cradle tips over.

So, while cradles provide a comforting sleeping space, safety hazards do exist that parents need to be aware of.

Cloth Swings 

Now, let's check out why cloth baby swings are a popular alternative for new parents. 

Here's a quick overview:

  1. Cloth swings consist of a sling hammock made of soft fabric that is attached to a metal frame. Battery-powered motors gently rock the baby back and forth.
  2. They take up less floor space than a traditional cradle and are portable for travel. Battery-powered motion is convenient for parents. 

However, the fabric sling poses an entanglement and suffocation risk if loose straps or ties are in the sleeping area with the baby. 

When compared to cradles, falls are less likely since the entire frame is designed to be stable during motion. But tip-overs are still possible if not used properly.

While cloth swings provide motion without manual rocking, safety risks still exist that parents need to be aware of.

Comparing Safety 

Let's check out the safety parameters which every parent should consider before choosing between the cradle and cloth swing. Here's a quick comparison:

1. Entanglement Risk

Cradles have low risk if used properly, while loose fabric ties on swings pose a risk. If unused properly with precaution, the cloth swing may cause entanglement and can injure the baby.

2. Falls

Cradles are more likely to tip over than stable swings, that is why in major cases, people prefer cradle and cloth swings only up to 4 months when the baby cannot move on its own.

3. Suffocation

Both have risks if blankets or extra padding are added, but cradles have gaps that could trap fingers, whereas swings are a contained space. 

4. Motor/battery risk

Only swings carry a risk of overheating motors or batteries malfunctioning, which could cause burns or fires. However, this is rare with name-brand products. Also, if you go for a manual swing, this risk is completely overruled.

While both have inherent risks, according to national safety statistics, cloth swings seem to have fewer potential safety hazards than traditional cradles. However, risks exist with either, so proper usage is the key.

Now let's discuss some guidelines on reducing risks for both cradles and swings:

  1. Place baby on their back to sleep in a bare crib or bassinet. No extra blankets, pillows, bumpers or toys around to minimize the risk.
  2. Do not use a cradle, bassinet or other sleeping surfaces with gaps between slats wider than 2-3/8 inches. Make sure you notice this while you purchase itself.
  3. Never leave baby unattended in a cradle, swing, bouncer or any other seated device. One has to be around all the time.
  4. Keep electric cords or straps out of the baby's reach in any product with a motor. It should be safely stuck out of reach from baby’s hand.
  5. Make sure any product used follows safety standards from the Products Manufacturers Association.
  6. Always use safety restraints like harnesses or buckles that are provided. 

Following these safety guidelines can help reduce potential dangers regardless of your chosen product. Safe usage is key to preventing accidents.

Choosing the Safer Option

When deciding between a cradle or swing based on safety factors:

  1. Cloth swings seem to pose fewer inherent risks overall based on national injury statistics. However, risks exist with any product, so education and supervision are paramount regardless of choice.
  2. Portable, compact swings allow the baby to be contained while parents are active but require close monitoring of motor/strap areas.
  3. Cradles provide a soothing sleeping space but have fall/entanglement hazards and should only be used when a parent is nearby.
  4. Always choose products from reputable brands that meet all safety standards and guidelines. Never use old, hand-me-down items.

Considering all factors, swings may have a slight safety edge - as long as they are used properly under close parental watch. But both require vigilance. Follow AAP guidelines to reduce risks no matter the choice.

Supervision Of The Product

The most important factors for any baby product are proper use and supervision. With care and attention, many items can be used safely to soothe and engage babies. Keep babies closely watched at all times, even if in a secure cradle or swing. 

Check equipment regularly to ensure proper functioning. Place items on stable, clear surfaces away from potential hazards. Dress babies appropriately for conditions while avoiding unnecessary risks. Follow manufacturers' guidelines tailored for each developmental stage. 

With attentiveness, the right products can help care for babies when used as intended and with constant supervision focused first on safety.

To learn more about 1st Step's family-focused products, visit their website at Their goal is to help you provide the safest, most nurturing sleep space as your little one grows. With the right tools, you can rest easy knowing they're well cared for.


Cradles and cloth swings are both gentle places where newborns can sleep or play. When used carefully, either one can help a baby feel safe and secure as they grow. 

The most important things are choosing a well-made product you trust, following doctors' advice, and always watching your little one. By keeping safety as the number one rule and being very careful, these items can offer babies comfort in healthy ways.

No matter which you pick, make checking it often for wear and tear part of your routine. And never walk away, even for a moment, without your baby safely in your arms. With love and attention, cradles or swings can be a nice part of a baby's early days.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is it okay to use an old hand-me-down cradle or swing?

No, only use new equipment from reputable brands. Old items may be worn, damaged or fail to meet current safety standards.

2. Can you add extra padding to a cradle or swing?

No, this increases suffocation and overheating risks. Only use products as the manufacturer intended.

3. Is motion required for all naps and night sleep?

No, babies should learn to fall asleep independently for night sleep according to pediatrician guidelines. Motion products are for supervised awake times only.

4. When should swings and cradles no longer be used?

Most manufacturers recommend no use after 5-6 months or 20-25 pounds, as motor/hardware safety may be an issue. Follow individual product limits.

June 24, 2024 — Aatish Mandot