Baby Hammocks & Swings
Baby hammocks or sarong cradles offer a form of co-sleeping that is traditional in many cultures, particularly South-East Asia. A recent randomised trial from New Zealand investigating the use of hammocks for infants (Chiu et al 2014) found that babies sleeping in correctly used hammocks are as safe as babies sleeping in a cot, as long as the babies are not swaddled and cannot roll over yet. This study also found that babies in hammocks sleep deeper, but for less time than those in cots.
Baby hammocks are now available that stretch over the top of a conventional cot or crib. As with many other infant sleep products, advertising claims that using a hammock ‘helps reduce risk of SIDS’ and the risk of ‘flat head syndrome’. There is no research to support either of these claims. When used with small babies, these devices may cause the infant’s neck to flex chin to chest which can cause dangerous obstructions of the infant’s airway.
Several types of baby swings and swinging cradles are marketed as sleep spaces. However, it is not safe for babies to sleep in swing seats (or baby bouncers) of any kind, nor to be left in them unattended. Small babies in swings can find it difficult to hold up their heads or slip from the restraints into a position where their breathing gets obstructed. Should a baby fall asleep in a swing they should be moved to flat sleep surface to sleep on their back.
Certain types of rocking infant sleeping products have been recalled and removed from the US market due to infant deaths, however similar products can still be purchased internationally.
See our Health Practitioners pages for more detailed information on hammocks