Having a swing at home can be fun for any child – a sensory swing may be one of the most used toys your ever get for your child, proving both calming and play. In this article, written by the father of two kids, one of who has specific sensory needs, we explore the best sensory swings for your home.
Sensory Swings for the Home
By Chris Volo
For some children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or Autism; a sensory swing can be a valuable addition to your child’s therapy toolbox by helping their brain regulate stimuli and provide a calming sensory activity. For these children there is a disconnect in the manner in which they process sensory information. Their brains are constantly receiving stimuli that they’re often unable to handle and a swing can help them process this sensory information. This of course, is something you should discuss with your OT or physician, each child’s needs are unique.
The vestibular system is a sensory system that informs our brain about motion, positioning and orientation. Swing therapy stimulates fluid in the inner ear activating sensors and informing your child of movement. They get use to the sensation of movement, which regulates their system and provides confidence for them to navigate their surroundings. Oh, and the swing is a load of fun. Who wouldn’t want to swing freely in the comfort of their own home.
The below swings provide a variety of those available for our little ones. As a father of a four-year-old daughter with autism; we have found a sensory swing to provide valuable therapeutic benefits as well as a welcome entertainment source.
Types of Sensory Swings for Home Use:
The two main types of sensory swings are round saucer shaped swings and the pod cocoon type swings. They both have different feels and characteristics and the right one can largely depend on your child’s preferences.
The pod type swing can provide a greater sense of comfort with the enclosed feel. Also, many children with sensory deficits prefer the feel of the fabric hugging their body.
The saucer type swing has an open design with less security feel; however, your child’s vestibular system may react more positively to this aspect. There isn’t a one size fits all and as with my peanut; we tried both types to determine what was best suited for her needs.
A Review of the Best Sensory Swings for the Home:
This sensory swing is the saucer shaped variety providing a more open feel while aiming to provide the calming sensory activity your child desires. The installation is simple and provides all the necessary hardware. This swing also includes a unique swivel adapter which allows the saucer to perform a variety of movement and spins (versus the common back and forth movement). Also, there is a hefty 450 pound weight limit and can accommodate multiple children at one time.
Unlike the pod type swings; younger children can potentially fall off with the open design; and therefore, need to be monitored for such occurrences. Our daughter has enjoyed a saucer design swing; however, at times certainly prefers the added comfort and security of the hugging pod swings. It also took her a bit to get accustomed to the wobblier feel of the design, but this was overcome with moderate use. This swing does provide convenient foam handles for your little ones to feel secure and safe. This design is not standard on all saucer swings and is a welcome feature.
This swing is one that has been in our home for quite a few years. It’s designed for peanuts two years of old and up with a weight limit of 170 pounds. There’s a very soft PVC cushion to allow your precious to swing comfortably. It’s removable in case you’d prefer to add your own cushion or pillow; or remove it altogether. This is a nice feature though my daughter has preferred the cushion which came with the Outree Swing. The installation is simple; just screw the included hook into a stud and you’re all set. The swing provides a comforting hibernating cocoon to swing or just sit and read; or watch TV. The swinging feels smooth and safe while having the ability to adjust the height. This swing has been an enormous hit in our household and provides the calming sensory activity our daughter craves.
If you’re looking for a multi-purpose product with additional features than your typical swing; this may be the item for you. It includes a sensory swing as well as a trapeze bar and ring attachment. The swing is made of 95% cotton and 5% spandex/lycra to hug your child for comfort. The trapeze/ring attachment is a wonderful addition to provide a greater variety of activities. The swing and trapeze attachment are secured via a bar installed across a doorframe.
All the necessary hardware is provided for installation, however you will want to perform a couple measurements prior to any purchase. The bar can accommodate doorframes 26’ to 36’ wide and there must be a 2 ¼ flat space in which to attach the brackets for the bar. The Trapeze attachment may not provide the calming sensory regulation for all children in the manner swings provide; but it can be a welcome addition for other family members to enjoy. The swing and bar have a substantial 450 pound weight limit. Also, the bar can be utilized for chin-ups for the older kiddos, and dare I say grown-ups as well.
The Sorbus swing is a variation of the pod type hugging swing incorporating a triangular tepee style design. This provides less of the enclosure feel while still providing the vestibular system sensory benefits. It can accommodate multiple children with a weight limit of 250 pounds. The swing hangs from the ceiling with a simple hook screwed into a stud.
The bottom of the swing is flat and does not come with its own cushion or pillow. With the rounded bottom aspect of the seat; some may experience a bit of a tipping feel as with the saucer swing design. As is consistent with the more open type esthetic, there are two additional windows in the back of the swing for added visibility. The Sorbus Nest Swing provides an alternative to the hugging cocoon swing while still providing calming sensory relief.
The final featured sensory swing is similar to the pod type; however, the composition is far more stretchable as evident by the material (80% cotton, 20% lycra). The weight limit is 150 pounds and again, attached to the ceiling. One note the pod swings is that some companies do not include the ceiling bolt, so do check on whether hardware is included. With the stretchy fabric; there are far more positions possible for your little one. This design is the optimal swing for those tots that prefer that highest level of body-hugging feel.
Remember, every child is different and can respond differently to various types of swings. We hope you found the above helpful and informative. Take care as you explore the brilliant journey of your child’s development.
Alissa Zorn is an author, and founder of the website Overthought This. She's a coach and cartoonist passionate about helping people overcome perfectionism and shame to build authentic, joyful lives. Alissa is certified through the International Coach Federation and got her Trauma-Informed Coaching certification from Moving the Human Spirit. She wrote Bounceback Parenting: A Field Guide for Creating Connection, Not Perfection, and is always following curiosity to find her next creative endeavor.