Bouncer vs Rocker vs Swing: How Are They Different From Each Other?

Are you a new parent who’s a little bit confused if you need a baby bouncer vs rocker vs swing?

It can be overwhelming which one to get especially when they seem to have a lot of similar uses and features.

All are pretty great though for keeping your little ones contained and for you to have a bit of a breather – to rest or to get things done.

In this article, I’ll break down these items, their uses, similarities, differences as well as their pros and cons.

I’ve also taken note of tips, and recommendations from parents online, to help you gauge which one is more suitable for your family.

Let’s start with defining what exactly is a baby bouncer vs rocker vs swing.

(Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own. For more information see Affiliate Policy.)

What is a baby bouncer vs rocker vs swing?

In a nutshell, it all comes down to motion:

  • A baby bouncer can gently spring up and down manually or mechanically.
  • A baby rocker is basically a rocking chair for babies that can be powered manually.
  • A baby swing usually moves back and forth and/ or side to side and is usually powered mechanically.

Some of these can come in a combo – a swing+rocker, a swing+bouncer, swing+rocker+bouncer, or rocker+bouncer.

Some of these items can come with toys, various settings and can be bulky (it’s usually the swing/ swing combo) or lightweight (usually a bouncer or rocker).

Now on to the most important question before comparing these three.

Do you need a baby bouncer or rocker or swing? 

As much as I’d like to say NO, it’s not a necessity, you have to be practical, blah-blah – I’d be lying flat out if I did.

Because here’s the thing – there will come a time where you’ll want to put your baby down. 

So you basically will need to put your babies down in a safe spot, where you can still see each other. So you can do work/ eat/ chores and where your babies can still feel calm when you’re not holding them.

And a baby bouncer or swing or rocker can offer that.

Now let’s do a quick comparison between the baby swing vs rocker vs bouncer.

Baby Swing vs Rocker vs Bouncer: Feature Comparison Table

This is best viewed on a desktop. Here’s a feature comparison between the Baby swing vs rocker vs bouncer.

FeaturesBaby SwingBaby RockerBaby Bouncer
AgeNewborn up until baby attempts to get out of itNewborn up ToddlerNewborn up until baby attempts to get out of it
Can Be Used For• Spacious rooms
• Babies with reflux
• Supervised naps
• Bonding moments
• Rooms with extra space
• Moving around the house
• Babies with reflux
• Supervised naps
• Bonding moments
• Limited space
• Traveling or vacations
• Moving around the house
• Babies with reflux
• Supervised naps
• Bonding moments
Automatic SettingsAvailableNoneAvailable in only a few models
FeaturesVibration settings, various swinging motions, adjustable seat, toysVibration settings, adjustable seat, toysVibration settings, various swinging motions, adjustable seat, toys
Combo OptionsAvailableAvailableAvailable

Check out more detailed info on a baby bouncer vs swing vs rocker, including its pros and cons.

Baby Bouncer vs Rocker vs Swing: Detailed Comparison

Baby Bouncer

  • Age Limit: Newborn up until baby attempts to get out of it
  • Can be used for: traveling or vacations, limited spaces, moving around the house, babies with reflux, supervised naps, bonding moments

Most baby bouncers are pretty simple and can only spring up and down (or bounce, hence the name) when your baby moves or when you gently nudge it.

There are a few models that have an auto-bounce system, so you won’t need to manually rock it.

But most would require you to bounce it manually. 

Which babies love, as they get more interaction from you.

Most baby bouncers work with batteries and those that have a wall plug option usually come in a combo – a swing+bouncer or swing+bouncer+rocker.

Some come with vibration settings, music, and toys – features that can help calm or entertain your baby.

Some bouncers have the ability to adjust the inclined seat. Which is great for newborns or for younger babies who don’t have a strong neck yet.

They are also very light and portable – easy to carry around the house or even for traveling and vacations. 

Most can be easily folded flat so you can conveniently store it when you don’t need it.

It’s also very easy to clean, with its removable, machine-washable seat and easy to wipe the frame.

A common complaint though from parents is that bouncers tend to easily flip especially when your baby is more active and mobile. 

Some can come with faulty motors which can affect the vibration and music settings. 

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Easy to clean
  • Battery operated
  • Has cheap models
  • Can come with a rocker

Cons

  • Can be flimsy, less stable
  • Can come with motor issues
  • Less calming/entertaining features

Baby Rocker

  • Age Limit: Newborn up until baby attempts to get out of it
  • Can be used for: rooms with extra spaces, babies with reflux, supervised naps, bonding moments

Baby rockers can be used for a long time since most models can be converted for toddlers or can carry a weight of up to 40lbs.

They’re not so easy to store though, as some can’t be folded or easily disassemble. 

But they are lightweight enough for moving around the house or for traveling in a car, to visit family and friends.

Its seat is adequately cushioned but most models might need an infant insert or any kind of seat support, to safely prop your newborn. 

Make sure to get an infant insert if you notice your baby slumping while on the rocker or when their chin is pressing into their chest. 

This position can lead to positional asphyxia, which can be fatal for newborns.

Some models come in rocker+bouncer combo and also features such as vibration settings, toy bar, adjustable seat, or the ability to make it into a stationary seat.

But rockers don’t come with an auto rocking setting so you need to manually rock this to pacify or entertain your baby.

Those that have an auto-rocker feature are probably a combo of a swing plus rocker.

It can be dangerous though for more active and mobile babies or strong-willed toddlers to use this on their own. Especially if they can’t control their movements, as a strong rocking motion can usually tip it over.

But for toddlers who can listen and follow instructions well, a rocker can turn into a comfy nook for them to play, watch some TV, or when you’re reading to them.

It’s fairly easy to clean and the seats are machine-washable.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Lightweight
  • Can use for toddlers
  • Can come with a bouncer

Cons

  • Can need an infant insert
  • Needs to be manually rocked
  • Can’t be folded for storage
  • Can tip over due to strong rocking motions

Baby Swing

  • Age Limit: Newborn up until baby attempts to get out of it
  • Can be used for: spacious rooms, babies with reflux, supervised naps, bonding moments

Baby swings tend to have a large footprint and can take up some space in your room, as it needs the space for swinging.

They usually swing back and forth or side to side or it can be a combination of both. 

Some models like the Mamaroo can even imitate the rocking and swinging motions of parents! 

While some like the Graco Sense2Soothe can automatically change its swinging motion, to pacify your baby, without you having to push a button.

(By the way, I have a comparison review here of the Mamaroo vs Graco baby swing, you might want to check it out if you’re interested.)

Babies are usually content to swing and chill in their baby swing and won’t need much adult interaction. 

Which means more hands-free time for you to shower, eat, work, etc.

Baby swings are also usually heavy, so moving them around can be quite a hassle. 

Some parents have mentioned bringing their baby swings for trips and vacations. While the majority finds it too bulky and weighty.

Its seats can also be usually adjusted, depending on the model, from a reclined setting to a near lying down position.

Some can include a removable bouncer or rocker or even both. It can also be powered by plugging or batteries or both.

Some baby swing models come with a lot of features, such as speed and/or vibration settings, music, white noise, and even some mobile toys.

Its cushioned seats are machine washable but with some, you can’t remove the harness, which can be annoying. Especially when dealing with vomits and diaper blowouts.

Mechanical swings can also come with noise and motor issues. Some parents complain that it makes a lot of noise or that it stops automatically swinging after only a few weeks of use.

Pros

  • Sturdy and durable
  • Can come with a rocker and/or bouncer
  • Has lots of calming and entertainment features
  • Can work when plugged/battery
  • Usually works to make babies sleep

Cons

  • Heavy and bulky
  • Takes up room
  • Expensive
  • Can be loud and noisy
  • Can come with motor issues

Check out what features to look out for below, when considering whether to buy a baby bouncer or swing, or rocker.

What To Look For In a Baby Bouncer vs Rocker vs Swing 

These 3 items have their differences but they generally have more or less the same safety features and traits to consider:

Safe Materials

Prioritize a durable and sturdy frame as your most precious cargo will be staying on it. 

Those with a 5 point harness and baby-safe materials are also ideal to have.

Size

Consider its size and the available space you have. Will it take up a large space in your baby’s room? 

If you live in a 2 story house, should it be better suited downstairs or upstairs? 

Can you easily carry it around if needed? Can you travel with it in planes or cars or bring it on vacations or take it with you when visiting families and relatives?

Do you have the space to store it away?

Comfort 

The comfort and safety of your baby should also be a priority. 

Is the seat snug and comfy for your baby? Can the seat be adjusted to a more inclined or reclined position?

Does it need an infant insert or newborn support?

Power Source

There are also models that come with a plugged-in and or battery.

Which can be ideal to have, if you don’t want to spend so much on batteries and if you’re traveling and there’s no nearby wall socket to plug it in.

Calming and Entertaining Features

An automatic feature that will make the swing or bouncer or rocker move on its own is of course ideal to have, which can be pricier.

But will it be okay to manually work it?

Look out also for certain aspects like various setting modes, vibration settings, toys, or any features that can help in entertaining or pacifying your baby.

Maintenance

Make sure to get something that’s easy to clean.

Something that’s easy to wipe or where you can remove the entire seat and wash it in the washing machine.

As babies can make some messes like vomits and diaper blowouts, so you’ll need something that’s super convenient to clean.

Baby Swing vs Rocker vs Bouncer: FAQ

Is a bouncer or swing better?

Both can make your babies calmer or entertain them but deciding on which is better will depend on your baby and your priorities.

A bouncer is better for families on the go or those who frequently travel as most can be easily folded and carried inside suitcases.

Bouncers are also very lightweight, making it convenient to move around the house.
A swing is better for those who have larger rooms with a dedicated space. Swings are usually bulky and troublesome to be moved around.

However, they have more calming features than a bouncer and some models can even come with a bouncer and/or rocker combo.

What is the difference between bouncer, swing, and rocker?

It generally lies in their movement and automatic settings.

Bouncers spring up and down and will usually move when nudged or when your baby moves on it. 
Some come with an auto-bounce setting while most need to be manually nudged so they will bounce.

Swings have more movement – sideways, back and forth and in some models, can imitate the swinging motions of parents. 
Most come with an auto-swinging feature so you don’t need to manually swing it.

Rockers move like a traditional rocking chair, except it’s for babies. It needs to be manually rocked so it will move.

What’s the difference between a bouncer and a jumper?

A baby is always in a seating position in a bouncer. The bouncer only springs up and down.

While in a jumper, the baby is in an upright position, with their seat supporting their upper bodies. The jumper or jumperoo, allows them to jump and descend in the same place.

(Check out my comparison review here on jumperoo vs exersaucer vs walker.)

Is a rocker good for a newborn?

Yes, as long as you follow safety guidelines, and your baby’s head and neck are adequately supported.

A rocker’s motion can soothe babies and even lull them to sleep. 

Just remember to always supervise your little ones as rockers (and also swings and bouncers) are not advised for napping or overnight sleeping purposes.

Baby Bouncer vs Swing vs Rocker: Tips and Alternatives

• Don’t buy before the baby comes

This is common advice amongst veteran mothers. 

As you won’t know what type would better suit your baby until they get here and use it. So better not waste money on something that you think will be liked by your baby.

• Put it in your baby registry

If you want it but you don’t want to pay for it, just put your preferred baby item or even all 3 of them – swing, rocker, a bouncer – in your baby registry! 

• Borrow

If you can, just try to borrow one of these items before actually buying them. 

Try them out, have your baby use them, and see how they react to them. If they like it and you find it useful in keeping your hands-free, go ahead and get one!

• Get second hand

Remember that you can only use this for a few months (with the exception of toddler rockers) so if you’re comfortable with the idea, you can just get a secondhand or slightly used baby swing or rocker or bouncer.

There are hundreds of 2nd hand listings on the Facebook marketplace and Craigslist. You can also ask around in parenting groups or forums.

• Try it out again

If your baby seems to hate staying on your chosen contraption, don’t force it. Keep it away for a few days or weeks and try out your luck again. 

Some babies are just fussier and just need more time to adjust to their surroundings. So don’t give up and make your little ones sit on their swings or rockers or chairs again.

• Try other baby containment options

If you’re not convinced of baby swings’ or rockers’ or bouncer’s usefulness, then just opt to get a baby carrier, baby activity gym, or even use a car seat carrier, to contain your baby.

Baby Bouncer vs rocker vs Swing: Which One Should You Get?

It all boils down to your priorities.

  • If money and space are not an issue and you’d want something that can move on its own, get a swing.
  • If you’re on a budget, have limited space, and frequently travel, get a bouncer.
  • If you want to save on money and space and you’re okay with no auto settings, maybe a rocker will work out for you.

Just remember, these items are not a newborn essential. BUT, they can tremendously help you take care of your newborn while keeping your sanity at the same time.

I hope this article has been useful in helping you decide between a baby bouncer vs rocker vs swing.