Baby rockers and their cousin, baby bouncers, are often baby registry staples. After all, new parents need somewhere to put their precious bundle when they’re not sleeping in SNOO, chillin’ in the stroller, or nestled in the baby carrier. But baby rockers have picked up a bad reputation lately….and for good reason. In June 2022, it was reported that baby rockers were associated with more than a dozen baby deaths. Does this mean you should dispose of your baby rocker ASAP or nix it from your baby registry? Here’s what parents need to know about baby rockers.

What is a baby rocker?

Baby rockers are inclined baby seats that have a curved base, so they rock when you give it a slight push. Some baby rockers also feature vibration or rock by themselves thanks to electricity or battery power. A baby bouncer, on the other hand, has a flat base, so it gets its bounce from a gentle touch—baby kicks.

Are baby rockers safe?

Baby rockers—when used exclusively as directed—are safe. But oftentimes, baby rockers are not used correctly…and that’s where the danger lies. Here are tips for using your child’s baby rocker safely:

DON’T let your baby sleep in a baby rocker.

Never (as in, never ever) use an inclined baby product, like a baby rocker, a baby swing, or a baby bouncer, for infant sleep. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently finalized a rule requiring that infant sleep products have a sleep surface angle of 10 degrees or less, which further stresses that inclined baby rockers are never to be used for sleep. After all, between 2009 and 2022, at least 14 infants died after falling asleep in Fisher-Price and Kids2 baby rockers. The only safe place for an infant to sleep is on their back and on a firm, flat surface in a crib, bassinet or play yard with no soft loose objects in their sleep space.

DO always strap your baby into the baby rocker.

When babies are not properly secured into their baby rockers, they can easily roll into an unsafe position. A baby’s weak muscles coupled with the baby rocker’s incline means it’s that much more difficult for a baby to roll back to a safe position. In addition, babies can simply slide right out of the baby rocker if they’re not properly secured.

DO supervise your baby when they’re in a baby rocker.

Another never-ever: Never leave your baby in a baby rocker (or any inclined baby product) unsupervised. If you are not watching, you won’t know if your baby has inadvertently dozed off or moved into an unsafe position. In some cases the restraining belt can potentially slide up and cut off your baby’s airflow, leading to suffocation or strangulation. And when babies sleep at an incline, their heavy heads can easily flop forward. Because babies’ neck muscles are weak, they often don’t have the strength to pick their head up…which can cause suffocation. Baby rockers also sometimes feature plush sides, which pose an additional suffocation risk if your baby leans their face into the soft surface.

DON’T use bedding in a baby rocker.

Soft, loose bedding—and other soft objects—are big no-nos for the crib or bassinet…and they’re a no-no for the baby rocker, too. Again, babies can too easily turn their faces into a plush blanket or stuffed toy and suffocate. Even if you are supervising your baby with an eagle eye, it’s still best to keep the baby rocker free of extraneous bedding.

DO keep the baby rocker on the floor.

Never place your baby rocker on a countertop, table, or other elevated surface where the rocker—and baby—could fall to the floor. Same goes for soft surfaces like beds and sofas. Not only would this make it possible for your little one to fall onto the floor, but if the rocker tips it creates a suffocation risk as well.

DON’T use recalled baby rockers.

Before buying or using a baby rocker—or any product for your baby—search for it on recalls.gov to find out if it’s still safe to use. Recalled baby items (including inclined sleepers) can sometimes linger at secondhand shops, friends’ basements, and daycare centers. Here’s a short list of recent baby rocker and inclined sleeper recalls:

  • Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Rock ‘n Glide Soother
  • Fisher-Price 2-in-1 Soothe ‘n Play Glider
  • Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play
  • Delta Children Beauty Rest Beginnings Incline Sleeper
  • Delta Children Deluxe 3-in-1 Activity Rocker, Feeder and Sleeper
  • Disney Baby Minnie Mouse Incline Sleeper
  • Graco Little Lounger Rocking Seat
  • Kids II Rocking Sleeper
  • Simmons Kids Beautyrest Deluxe 3-in-1 Activity Rocker, Feeder, and Sleeper
  • Summer Infant SwaddleMe By Your Bed Sleeper

What if your baby falls asleep in a baby rocker?

While no one ever wants to move a sleeping baby, it’s very important to relocate your little one as soon as possible, notes the American Academy of Pediatrics. Not only will moving your baby to a flat and empty bassinet or crib help keep them safe, it’ll teach them that bassinets and cribs—not baby rockers—are for sleep. (When out-of-the-bassinet ZZZs regularly occur, your baby will start to learn that sleepytime happens in all these places…but not the bassinet.)

If you catch your sleepy baby before the ZZZs come, that’s even better: Take your baby out of the baby rocker when they’re calm and on the verge of sleep—and then gently place them in their bassinet. And if your baby dozes before you make the transition, gently rouse them with a slight tickle until their eyes open. After a few seconds, their eyes will close again and slide back to sleep. This wake-and-sleep practice is the first step to help your baby learn that they have the power to self soothe and sleep outside of the baby rocker.

What about baby swings?

Baby swings—much like baby rockers and bouncers—can be a great way for parents to catch a bit of a break, all while entertaining or soothing their baby. And, just like baby rockers and bouncers, it’s not safe for babies to sleep in swings. You should promptly move your little snoozer from the baby swing to a safe sleep space, like their bassinet. That’s because your baby’s head can fall forward, possibly obstructing their airway, and causing suffocation. And if a baby is accidentally left unrestrained in a baby swing, they can roll over and asphyxiate.

Is SNOO a baby rocker?

No. While the award-winning, pediatrician-designed SNOO does rock babies all night (and nap) long, SNOO is not a baby rocker. Unlike baby rockers, SNOO is designed for safe sleep. In SNOO babies sleep safely on a flat surface, securely swaddled on their backs, which prevents rolling to an unsafe position during sleep. SNOO is so safe, in fact, that over 100 hospitals all over the world place their smallest patients in SNOO. (Learn why rocking bassinets are fantastic at soothing babies.)

Do Leg Lifters turn SNOO into an inclined rocker?

No. SNOO Leg Lifters raise your baby’s head a mere 2.5 degrees to help reduce stuffy noses and spitting up. That gentle incline is well under the 10-degree limit that the CPSC has deemed unsafe.

Learn more about safe—and unsafe—baby products:

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.