The Swing Incentive

In my house, the barriers to entry for anything child-related are high. My husband generally rejects toys that make noise, are too plastic-y or take up too much space. I tend to veto anything that hasn’t been approved by multiple child-safety boards. So when Nivi built this “swing” in the middle of our living room, I was in a bind.

The thing is, the Fisher-Price swing we were given as a gift broke all of Nivi’s rules: it made noise, was deeply plastic and took up a lot of space. Whereas the only part that was plastic in Nivi’s swing was the Rubbermaid base. So that’s our daughter at about two months, swaddled to near-suffocation and snoozing in a Rubbermaid storage bin with a yoga mat underneath her for padding and two wadded up towels on either side of her to keep her from rolling around. The bin is attached to the ceiling with rope and a metal hook clipped to a bolt Nivi drilled into a ceiling beam.

The “genius” of the thing, according to him, was that you could sit in a chair and read with your left hand while pushing the swing with your right hand.

The “problem” with the thing, according to me, is that it was missing a little device called a five-point harness. You know, the thing that keeps children from falling out of car seats, strollers and swings and, well, dying.

“Woman,” Nivi said, after a week of listening to me gasp every time he put the baby in the swing. “Let me build shit for my kid in peace.”

To cut a long story short, I eventually gave in. It came down to picking my battles, but also to incentives. If I vetoed every attempt he made to do things for our daughter, the likely result–besides us fighting all the time–was that he would stop doing anything. Why bother, if I was just going to nix all his efforts? Next thing you know, I’d be doing everything, and that would just be stupid.

And heck, the kid slept great in it.

Posted in incentives

10 Responses to The Swing Incentive

  1. Uh… ok… well, let me say congratulations on your baby before I start going off about how unsafe I think that contraption is.

    So, your husband has his list of qualifications, what about yours? “I tend to veto anything that hasn’t been approved by multiple child-safety boards.” Trust me, no child-saftey board would ever approve of this thing. If it were me, this would be a battle I’d pick.

    I don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world and the likelihood of your child dying because of it is small. Anyhow, you probably won’t get too much more use out of it (maybe another month or two at best), because your baby will start moving and rolling over.

  2. Shawn says:

    Get over it. For now this is just fine. When the child is older and moving clearly something else will be needed but for now just enjoy.

  3. Stormy says:

    I think it looks awesome.

    I think she’ll be perfectly safe until she can start sitting up on her own. (As long as you don’t have any other kids or large dogs in the house!)

    If you are really worried about safety, you could put the swing lower to the ground.

  4. Mari says:

    Quite honestly? I think it’s brilliant! Not only is dh involved, but he is considering, thinking, expanding, McGuyver-ing things – and that will teach your child a whole lot about self worth, self reliance and just a plain ol’ get it done attitude. I wish we could have done something like this (lack of space, for one thing). And while I understand your desire for a 5 pt harness (what mother wouldn’t?) I also understand that safety can be over-engineered to such a degree that we forget other important aspects.
    Again, I say BRILLIANT! :)

  5. Dot says:

    Love the story… and Love the swing!
    And honestly, it doesn’t look unsafe at all- particularly since the baby isn’t mobile yet. Just because something’s not built and certified by Giant Corporation (TM) doesn’t mean it’s unsafe.

  6. Lisa says:

    Sorry that I am also commenting that I don’t think it’s safe. Sometimes babies manage to roll over many months before they are developmentally actually able to do so. It’s the most common reason a baby falls and ends up in the ER. Someone who’s done a pediatric residency will inevitably have many examples of this happening.

    I’ve seen this rolling over surprise with my own second kiddo. I just wanted to mention it because I think many folks are naturally unaware of such a thing.

    I’m sure that someone is always close by and being careful to watch in case the baby is squirming. And it does sound like she’s all snug and unlikely to move. But I can just imagine a scenario where one looked away and that’s the moment something bad happened. For me it would be too much of a risk.

    Sorry to have a negative comment… just felt obligated to mention the early rolling possibility.

    Best wishes to your family and congratulations!

  7. Product Safety Expert says:

    Just wanted to say (and I almost never comment on things):
    Although I think the concept is quite inventive and I applaud your husband for his involvement. I see some serious flaws in the execution.

    My qualifications:

    Parent of 2
    MS in Mechanical Engineering
    10 years exp. in the development and safety testing of Children’s products
    Active in the development of voluntary & mandatory standards for cribs and infant sleeping products

    My concerns:
    1) For safe sleep, babies should be positioned on their backs without any positioning material or soft bedding around them. Many children suffocate every year from unnecessary bedding in their sleeping environment. Read more here.
    2) Although that rubbermaid bin may seem strong, the type of plastic used is prone to sudden cracking due to stress. This is especially true when you drill a hole in it (as where the rope is threaded). A better design would not use the drilled holes for support, but instead include some type of platform that the bin could be supported on. I have real concern that the bin handle will fail and cause your baby to tumble out. Anyone who has overfilled one of these bins and tried to lift it can sympathize with the stress cracking issue.
    3) The rope used to hang this appears to be secured with knots, and although your husband could be an expert sailor or rock climber, others reading this may not be. An improperly tied knot could weaken, loosen, or fail. Again, causing the child to fall.
    4) If you do continue to use this or a modified design, please lower the height of the swing to within a few inches of the ground. There is no reason for it to be so high. In the event that it does fail, the less distance between the baby and the ground, the better.

    Best Wishes
    Product Safety Expert.

  8. Adrian says:

    Just glue on a five-point harness. You can get them from other baby-gear at a thriftshop.

  9. Jessica says:

    I have to say that I am subscribing based on this post (and the fact that I am a data analyst and married and this blog looks amazingly awesome). This is exactly the kind of thing that I can imagine my husband building when we have children. Exactly. And while I think the above commenters are totally right about it not being really safe, I don’t blame you at all for the conclusion you came to. That’s just how marriage works sometimes.

  10. rachel says:

    Guys, get a life! The world is not as dangerous as you think it is. Maybe some of you should take a look at this article on helicopter parenting from Time magazine:,8599,1940395,00.html

    She’s only a baby for goodness sake! If you’re sitting next door, not trying to enter the Baby Swing Olympics, than I think as an adult you can manage to keep your child safe for the amount of time she sleeps there.

    I can’t imagine what will happen when she hits toddlerhood; maybe some of you will suggest she keep her in a car seat with a five-point harness so that she won’t a)eat from the floor b)pick up germs from surfaces c)socialize with undesirable or unhygienic friends. The list goes on…

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