Finding a Natural Baby Swing and Rocker
How to Find an Eco-Friendly Baby Swing, Rocker and Bouncer
We’ve all had those days where your baby will not settle down without gentle rocking. Baby swings, bouncers, and rockers are very handy little pieces of furniture making it easy to put your baby down for a few minutes. Learn how to go find a natural, eco-friendly baby swing, bouncer or rocker.
What to look for in natural baby swings, bouncers, or rockers
These are complex systems and so there are many environmental and health factors to consider when searching for natural baby swings and bouncers. For starters, try to stay away from these materials of concern:
- Polyvinylchloride (PVC): Manufacturing and disposing of PVC creates dioxins which cause neurological, reproductive, developmental, and hormonal health problems. PVC plastic is highly flexible and can be identified by the #3 in the chasing recycling arrows.
- Phthalates: Phthalates are another class of chemicals used to make soft plastics like that used in some baby swings. They have been linked to numerous health problems, including cancer, endocrine disruption, development delays, and reproductive system damage.
- Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs): This is a class of flame retardants used widely for consumer products, including baby swings. They can dissolve out of consumer products and be absorbed by the human body where they accumulate in our fat and resist degradation. Over time as they build up they can create health problems like decreased thyroid hormone levels, low birth weights in babies, hyperactivity, and even cancer.
Next, look for environmentally friendly features in your natural swing or bouncer, such as:
- Unpowered: Sure it may be convenient to choose a baby swing or rocker that comes equipped with its own motor, but these types require the use of fossil fuel energy either for powering the swing or recharging batteries. Worse still are disposable batteries. So if possible, choose an unpowered swing or rocker, but if you must have a powered version, use rechargeable batteries to minimize the production of toxic waste.
- Natural fabrics: Look for baby swings and rockers that are made with eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton and wool, bamboo, or recycled polyester. Just as with any textile you buy for your baby (clothing, slings, or linens), choosing natural options will protect their health and the planet. Be sure to stay away from finishes that make fabrics stain resistant or flame retardants as these can be highly toxic.
- Recyclability: If possible, look for options that are either made from natural materials that will break down in the environment when composted or from recyclable materials. Likely with something as complex as a baby swing there will be a mix of materials (metal, plastic, wood, etc), in which case you should be able to disassemble the chair once it’s outlived its usefulness so that each individual component can be recycled. Of course, if you can find one made with recycled materials, even better.
- Secondhand: Always an eco-friendly choice, buying used baby swings, rockers, and bouncers is both economical and very green. It means you’re reusing something rather than letting it be sent to a landfill, and you’re preventing new resources from being used to make a new item. You can often find high quality items at secondhand stores such as TheBabyChain.com, Gently-Used.com, or try out Craigslist or Ebay. Or look into buying from a local secondhand baby store, like Once Upon a Child.
Eco-friendly baby swings and natural wooden bouncers are now readily available. Here are a few that we recommend:
- Baby Hammock by Kanoe
- Babysitter Balance Organic by BABYBJORN
- Dream by Hushamok
- Hug Me Swing by Summer Infant
- Hug Me Soothing Bouncer by Summer Infant
- Svan Bouncer by Scandinavian Child
Looking for natural wooden baby swings, bouncers or rockers
When bent the right way, wood can have a very flexible quality, making it the perfect material to make natural baby bouncers and rockers. Here are a few things to consider when seeking out eco-friendly options:
- FSC-certified wood: The Forest Stewardship Council is the only internationally-recognized third-party forest management organization recognized by major environmental nonprofits and is your key to finding a natural wooden baby swing that is made from sustainable wood. Look for their stamp of approval on the packaging or right on the swing or bouncer. (Note: The organization called SFI that also places certifications on wooden products is not considered reputable in that they are industry-sponsored. Find out more at Don’t Buy SFI.)
- Choose unpainted and untreated: Many paints and stains can contain toxins like heavy metals that can enter your baby’s body when she chews and plays with them. To avoid this problem, look for wooden baby swings and bouncers that aren’t painted or treated in any way.
- Natural wood finishes: Safe alternatives to buying unfinished wooden baby swings include things like beeswax, tung oil, and linseed oil.
- Water-based paints and stains: If you really want a baby swing with some color, choose water-based paints and stains. If you’re making your own baby swing, a safe bet is AFM Safecoat paints which are SCS Certified. Contact an organization like Environmental Products and Design for additional advice.
- Choose solid wood: Pressed woods are made by gluing wood sawdust and particles together, but the glues can contain formaldehyde and other off-gassing ingredients that are neither safe for your indoor air or your baby’s body.
Though we were only able to find one example of a natural wooden baby bouncer, it’s a beauty!
- Coco Baby Bouncer by BLOOM
1 PVC - THE POISON PLASTIC. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2010, from Greenpeace: http://archive.greenpeace.org/toxics/html/content/pvc1.html#dioxin
2 Chemical Encyclopedia - phthalates. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2010, from Healthy Child Healthy World: http://healthychild.org/issues/chemical-pop/phthalates/
3 Healthy Milk, Healthy Baby - Chemicals: PBDEs. (n.d.). Retrieved May 19, 2010, from Natural Resources Defense Council: http://www.nrdc.org/breastmilk/pbde.asp