Some of my favorite childhood memories are on the playground. Wind in my hair, watching the sky go back and forth– nothing was more exhilarating than being on a swing. Looking back, electronics weren’t as big a deal to us kids are they are today. Sure, we watched movies and cartoons on TV, but there were no cell phones, no iPads, and video games weren’t as common. Play is a crucial part of childhood development. Play helps your baby build their imagination, creativity, and independence. So when you’re looking for playtime alternatives for your active toddler, you may want to consider a swing for your little one.
Whether indoors or outdoors, being in a toddler swing is one of my daughter’s favorite activities these days. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic going on, parks haven’t been as accessible to us. This started my search for the best swing we could enjoy at home. There are so many different ones out on the market these days that it can be hard to choose which one is right for you and your kids. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the most important features, the pros and cons to having certain swings, and we’ll choose our favorite toddler swing!
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Table of Contents
- Types of Toddler Swings
- What Should I Look for in a Toddler Swing?
- Here’s How I’ve Determined the Best Toddler Swing
- Our Top Picks for the Best Toddler Swing of 2021
- #1: Little Tikes 2-in-1 Snug ‘n Secure Grow With Me Swing (Best Overall Toddler Swing)
- #2: Ecotribe Wooden Horse Toddler Swing (Best Premium Toddler Swing)
- #3: Sportspower My First Toddler Swing (Best Indoor Toddler Swing)
- #4: Eastern Jungle Gym Full Bucket Toddler Swing Seat (Best Classic Bucket Toddler Swing)
- #5: Step2 Infant to Toddler Swing (Best Beginner Toddler Swing)
- Are Toddler Swings Safe?
- Is Swinging Good for a Toddler?
- At What Age Do Toddlers Learn to Swing Themselves?
- Is it OK to Buy a Used Toddler Swing?
- What is the Difference Between A Toddler Swing and a Baby Swing?
- Verdict: Your Best Toddler Swing
Types of Toddler Swings
There are many types of swings designed for little ones on the market and in playgrounds. After some research, I’ve found that these are the most common types of toddler swings found today.
Toddler Bucket Swing
A bucket swing is perfect for a growing toddler. It is generally very safe and comes with a seat with a high back for better back support and full coverage, encircling your child for maximum safety. Bucket swings generally have four leg openings so that your child can face forward or backward.
Nursery Seat Swing
These types of swings often resemble a highchair seat, with a full back (like a chair) and a seat equipped with a 5-point safety harness. They are usually made from some kind of hard plastic material and are both safe and comfortable for younger and older toddlers.
These are the classic ‘tire swing’ swings we remember from old childhood movies. Tree swings generally hang from large tree branches (although they can definitely be hung from swing sets as well) and are typically only for outdoor use. This is because a toddler tree swing requires more space to move around, and tree branches and swing sets tend to be the best places for that. Tree swings are meant for older toddlers, and shouldn’t be used until your child is able to safely hold onto the swing by themselves without any harness needed.
A sling swing is the classic U-shaped plastic swing seat that most parks have these days. It’s the most basic type of child swing that older toddlers, children, or adults can use. Ideally, sling swings are attached to a swing set. This type of swing should only be used for the older child who is able to safely hold on to the swing without a need for any harness. Because of fewer restraints (like harnesses), this type of swing also gives the most physical benefits for your child.
What Should I Look for in a Toddler Swing?
With so many different toddler swings to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. What you should look for depends on what your family needs. Do you want an indoor swing? An outdoor swing? Or one for indoors and outdoors? Is your baby younger and would do better in a swing equipped for infants, too? Here are a few features to look for when choosing the perfect swing for your child.
Safety. As always, safety is my #1 feature to consider when choosing any type of equipment for your baby. Some specific features I look for when choosing swings (particularly when shopping for a younger toddler) include a 5-point safety harness, durable non-toxic material, secure attachment, and ease of use. Most swings these days are run through several safety standard tests before being placed on the market, but always check the manufacturer’s notes.
Age Range. Are you shopping for an older toddler, or is your child just outgrowing his or her infant swing? These details matter when choosing the right swing for your family. Some are designed to grow with your baby, while some are made for older toddlers who don’t need as many safety features in place. You’ll want to consider these options when choosing the right swing.
Materials. Most swings are made from durable, non-toxic hard plastic. However, there are swings on the market that are more eco-friendly, such as wooden swings. There are also fabric swings, which, while providing more comfort, don’t offer as much ‘push’ when it comes to swinging. The difference in material will affect how the swing operates, so choose carefully.
Space. Do you live in an apartment, or do you have your own backyard? Most swings come with an overhead attachment that can securely attach to outdoor swing sets, tree branches, or even sturdy door frames. Those living in apartments may find an indoor swing more suitable than a tree swing, for example.
Indoor or Outdoor. If you’re looking for an indoor swing, look for one that has its own frame so that you don’t have to mount it to the ceiling, or look for one that can be securely attached to a door frame. Swings that are smaller and narrower work best for indoor use. If you’re looking for an outdoor swing, make sure that your current situation is conducive to having a swing in your yard. Buy one with appropriate, weather-resistant hardware that can attach to your tree, swing set, etc. You can also buy an indoor-outdoor one to serve you both purposes.
Here’s How I’ve Determined the Best Toddler Swing
For our family, since our daughter is still on the younger side of toddlerhood, we were looking for a swing that could grow with her and that she could play with for years to come. As always, toddlers will be toddlers. This means be prepared for messes, and yes . . . even in your swing. We wanted one that was easy to clean and wipe down. After researching quite a few swings and using some trial and error, I’ve determined that the best toddler swings are safe, durable, long-lasting, and above all else: fun!
Our Top Picks for the Best Toddler Swing of 2021
#1: Little Tikes 2-in-1 Snug ‘n Secure Grow With Me Swing (Best Overall Toddler Swing)
- Recommended age range: 9 months to 4 years
- Dimensions: 16.3 x 16 x 17 inches
- Item weight: 3 pounds
- Weight limit: 50 pounds
The Little Tikes Snug ‘n Secure Grow With Me Swing is an ideal choice for any toddler who loves to play in a swing. You may recognize this swing from your own childhood, and that’s because this swing is a classic. For years, it’s been one of the best-selling and most-loved swings on the market, and for a reason. Not only is it fun and colorful, but it is also safe and secure. It will be just the right size for your growing child as you adjust the T-bar based on the age of your child. This swing also comes in different colors depending on your family’s preferences. If a durable, long-lasting, weather-resistant, spill-proof, colorful swing is what your family needs, then the Little Tikes Snug ‘n Secure Grow With Me Swing is the right choice for you!
With the Little Tikes Snug ‘n Secure Grow With Me Swing, parents can sit back, relax, and enjoy watching their child swing, knowing with full confidence that their child is safe and secure while having fun. With multiple safety features, this swing will give parents peace of mind. The Little Tikes Snug ‘n Secure Grow With Me Swing consists of a T-bar that will hold your child securely in place, sometimes too securely! From experience, the safety clasp is sometimes difficult to unlatch, so parents will need to practice clicking their little one in and out. The swing also has additional shoulder straps that click securely into the T-bar for added safety.
It can grow with your baby
Once your child outgrows the T-bar, shoulder straps, and seat belt (usually around age 2 or 3), these features can be stored out of the way so that your growing child can still enjoy the Little Tikes Snug ‘n Secure Grow With Me Swing as it converts from a toddler bucket swing to a regular swing for even more years of enjoyment.
It’s durable and easy to clean
The Little Tikes Snug ‘n Secure Grow With Me Swing is made of durable molded plastic that is resistant to stains, spills, and color fading even with outdoor use. The swing itself is held up by 3 feet of tough, braided nylon that will hold up to 50 pounds and can stand hours and hours of swinging. The safety shoulder straps and seat belt are made from nylon as well, so easy clean-up is an added bonus.
- Recommended age range: 9 months to 3 years
- Dimensions: 17 x 11 x 11 inches
- Item weight: 5 pounds
- Weight limit: 44 pounds
The Ecotribe Wooden Horse Toddler Swing is made from high-quality, solid wood that is sure to last throughout the years. Don’t let the name fool you, either; this swing comes in Giraffe and Unicorn shapes too, if that suits your child’s preferences better. This swing is also versatile: it can be attached securely either indoors or outdoors to suit your family’s needs.
It’s high quality and eco-friendly
If sustainability and earth-friendly products are what you strive for, then look no further than the Ecotribe Wooden Horse Toddler Swing. Ecotribe is a well-known, environmentally-friendly company that makes all of its products from sustainable materials. The Ecotribe Wooden Horse Toddler Swing is non-toxic, composed of solid, natural wood. Even the packaging is environmentally friendly, as it comes in a reusable tote bag. Given its high-quality craftsmanship, this is the only wood swing seat on our list, making it the perfect Montessori-style addition to your child’s playtime!
Because it’s made from solid wood, this swing is sure to withstand years of fun, stains, and spills, and can hold up to 44 pounds. The smooth wooden surface is easy to clean off, as most spills slide right off. While the shape of the seat is narrow, the side railing is deep, so your child won’t be able to fall out of it. Unlike the other swings on our list, there is no seatbelt on this swing. This is because the high sides completely enclose your child within. That being said, it might be a good idea to wait for your child to be independent enough to hold onto the swing alone before letting them enjoy it.
#3: Sportspower My First Toddler Swing (Best Indoor Toddler Swing)
- Recommended age range: 9 months to 3 years
- Dimensions: 52 x 55 x 47 inches
- Item weight: 14 pounds
- Weight limit: 55 pounds
The Sportspower My First Toddler Swing is the perfect swing for both indoor and outdoor use. Coming with its own swing set frame has its own set of advantages, as you can bring this swing set with you on the go. Even though it’s smaller, it comes with all the safety and comfort features as most other competitors the market. If you have a smaller space, don’t have a backyard or tree, or travel frequently, then the Sportspower My First Toddler Swing would be a great fit for your household.
It’s perfect for indoor (or even outdoor) use
As I mentioned before, the Sportspower My First Toddler Swing is perfect to use anywhere you’d like, as it is the only swing on our list that comes with its very own swing set! That means that your family doesn’t need to have a backyard, or even a large tree branch to have the perfect setting for your child’s swing. While this swing set is still competitive with outdoor swings, unlike the others, it can easily be brought indoors. For example, if it rains, the fun doesn’t have to end. The frame is made from rust-resistant steel that would hold up well outdoors as well.
Because it’s good for indoor use, the Sportspower My First Toddler Swing is also an exceptionally portable swing that can be used practically anywhere you have flat ground. The frame can easily be folded up and stored or brought on family trips to the park.
The Sportspower My First Toddler Swing comes as a nursery swing, so it’s the safest type of swing seat out there. The high back of this seat is shaped like a bear, making it fun for babies and toddlers alike. Its 5 point safety harness pushes it over the top to exceed safety standards for swings.
#4: Eastern Jungle Gym Full Bucket Toddler Swing Seat (Best Classic Bucket Toddler Swing)
- Recommended age range: 9 months to 3 years
- Swing Set Dimensions: 14 x 13 x 12 inches
- Item weight: 8 pounds
- Weight limit: ~55 pounds
The Eastern Jungle Gym Full Bucket Toddler Swing is the traditional playground bucket seat that comes to mind. There’s a reason that this swing is so classic: it’s safe, heavy-duty, weather-resistant, and toddlers love swinging like big kids in them, while parents love the extra security of the bucket seat. If you have a backyard with a tree, or room for a swing set, then the Eastern Jungle Gym Full Bucket Toddler Swing might be the perfect fit for your family.
The Eastern Jungle Gym Full Bucket Toddler Swing is the traditional bucket seat you’d think of when you think of parks. Unlike the other swings on our list, the Eastern Jungle Gym Full Bucket Toddler Swing is made of commercial-grade materials. It’s strong and durable enough for public parks. It’s constructed with high-quality, heavy-duty copolymer plastic that will last years and years, and then some. The plastic makes for easy clean-up and ensures that this swing will stand up to rain, snow, spills, and whatever else toddlers decide to throw at it. The chains themselves are made from galvanized steel and are weather-resistant, as well.
This outdoor bucket swing has a high raised back, providing the extra support your toddler might need while swinging like one of the big children. As your child develops better core muscle strength and coordination, the higher back is a helpful feature in a bucket swing. Additionally, the swing itself is attached to chains that are covered in a buttery-soft plastisol, making for a pinch-free grip.
#5: Step2 Infant to Toddler Swing (Best Beginner Toddler Swing)
- Recommended age range: 9 months to 3 years
- Swing Set Dimensions: 10 x 16 x 24 inches
- Item weight: 5.5 pounds
- Weight limit: 50 pounds
The Step2 Infant to Toddler Swing is the perfect swing for your baby who is transitioning into toddlerhood. What separates this product from our top pick, the Little Tikes Snug ‘n Secure Grow With Me Swing? The critical advantage of the Step2 Infant to Toddler Swing is that it requires minimal adult effort for assembly, as well as little skill to load and unload a (frequently squirmy!) baby. Unlike the Little Tikes Snug ‘n Secure Grow With Me Swing, whose T-bar (or lap bar) is sometimes tricky to undo, the Step2 Infant to Toddler Swing’s design makes it easy for both younger and older toddlers to climb in and out of. This swing allows a toddler to learn the gross motor skills of swinging while their parents give them a push. If your infant has recently outgrown his or her swing seat and is looking for something that will last many years, the Step2 Infant to Toddler Swing will be great for your family’s needs.
It’s safe and easy to use
The Step2 Infant to Toddler Swing’s design makes it easy for parents to load and unload their new toddler into the front. What makes it easy for parents? The safety harness clips on the outside of the T-bar for easy access to click in and out when you’re just learning how to put your always-moving toddler into a swing.
It can grow with your baby
From the time your child has just outgrown his or her baby swing, Step2 Infant to Toddler Swing will be ready for them to transition to. With a high back and all-encompassing sides, this swing provides your transitioning toddler with the extra support they might need. It’s not just for younger toddlers, however. With a weight limit of up to 50 pounds, this swing is strong enough to ensure that your toddler will enjoy it for years to come.
Are Toddler Swings Safe?
Yes, they are! When used appropriately and according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, swings provide both the child and family with endless entertainment. Of course, you don’t want to place your infant in one until he or she is able to hold their upper body and neck upright without any difficulty. Doing so may result in neck injuries if the child doesn’t have the neck strength to ensure proper support while swinging. This is why these types of swings are referred to as ‘toddler’ swings as opposed to ‘baby’ swings.
As always, I would recommend that your child is always in the swing under the supervision of an adult. With any toy, accidents can happen and you’ll want to stay close by.
Finally, when hanging up two or more swings, you’ll want to place them at least 2-3 feet apart from one another and at least 1-2 feet away from any side supports (for example, the swing set frame). This is to ensure there are no mid-swing collisions. When in doubt, always follow the manufacturer’s safety guidelines!
Is Swinging Good for a Toddler?
As both a pediatrician and a former child, I believe that swings are one of the most fun screen-free activities for a growing toddler. Not only are they fun, but they’re actually beneficial to a child’s development. This type of play helps children to develop better gross motor skills in balance, and it impacts the brain’s ability to process sensory information and learn about body and spatial awareness. The swinging motion itself can often provide a calming sensation for even the most active of kids, particularly children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, anxiety, or other physical or mental disabilities.
There are also many physical benefits for children. Swinging in a swing is actually considered a good exercise, as children have to be able to engage both their core and leg muscles while propelling themselves back and forth. Younger toddlers who haven’t yet learned to propel themselves forward with momentum still use a good amount of core strength to maintain their balance while sitting in the seat. Overall, swings make for a great gentle exercise activity for toddlers.
At What Age Do Toddlers Learn to Swing Themselves?
This will of course vary from child to child, but most toddlers will usually have mastered the skill by age 3 years to 5 years of age. How do they learn? Practice, of course! It’s all about repetition. Parents can start by pushing their little ones from the back so the child can build up his or her core strength. With time, your child will learn that leaning back and extending their legs will increase his or her speed, and they will start doing this naturally.
Is it OK to Buy a Used Toddler Swing?
It’s okay to buy a used swing as long as you make sure it’s safe. For example, check to see that there are no rusted or prickly chains that your little one will have to hold on to. Make sure that the restraint system is still intact, that it clicks in and out easily, and that there’s no chance it would pop open on accident. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure the chains holding the swing are fully intact and won’t break when secured to toddler swing sets or tree branches. If the chains are made of rope, make sure there are no weak spots or frayed parts. Finally, make sure that the links and other hardware that attaches above are all fully intact with no missing parts.
What is the Difference Between A Toddler Swing and a Baby Swing?
The difference between a baby swing and a toddler swing is basically the safety features and freedom of movement. A baby swing generally completely surrounds the baby, is fully equipped with a safety harness and a bassinet-like seat or, at the very least, a high back. A baby swing has seat material that is softly padded for comfort, so the baby feels soothed and relaxed. Often, children will outgrow these swings by the time they’re 6 months to a year old, depending on the activity level of the baby. Swings designed for toddlers, on the other hand, allow children more free range of movement. Some still come with a high back, especially if the swing is a transitional swing meant for children less than 3 years of age. Children are able to propel themselves forward and backward, unlike a baby swing that usually has automated movements or bounces. Additionally, swings designed for toddlers are usually made from durable plastic because, as we all know, children of this age get very messy!
Verdict: Your Best Toddler Swing
I mentioned just a few swings in this article, but I really feel these are the best on the market. They all provide safety, durability, fun, and are all long lasting. These are features that are important to my family and me. Below you’ll find a summary of my favorite picks:
If you’re looking for an all-around best swing that offers durability, will last through the years, and comes in fun colors, go with the Little Tikes 2-in-1 Snug ‘n Secure Grow With Me Swing.
If sustainability and high-quality materials are important to you, go with the Ecotribe Wooden Horse Toddler Swing.
If you live in a smaller space, don’t have outdoor space, or travel a lot with your children, go with the Sportspower My First Toddler Swing, which comes with its own swing set.
If you’re looking for a classic, durable, playground-quality option, go with the Eastern Jungle Gym Full Bucket Toddler Swing Seat.
And finally, if your little one is just starting to enjoy toddler swings and you need one that will work for younger toddlers, go with the Step2 Infant to Toddler Swing.