Each time the children learn to swing by themselves later. It is not strange to see quite old children today who ask to be swung because they do not know how to do it themselves. They may have many other motor skills but do not coordinate the movement required by the swing.
Until a while ago I was convinced that this fact was due to the fact that children move less and less, go outside less and do not exercise their gross motor skills or that an adult always swung them … But one day I realized even though those Two factors may have some relationship, there is a third that is key: the appearance of safety swings, specific for the little ones, up to 4 and even 5 years of age.
WHAT ARE BABY SWINGS?
By baby swings I mean the typical swing that has a harness around the base. There are different types but they all have in common that they are like a closed box or chair in which to place the baby or child.
They are called “babies” (also “safety” or “crib”) but they are approved swings for children from 1 to 5 years old and that, indeed, they use a lot both babies and children of 2, 3 and even 4 years.
In this article I am going to refer, above all, to the disadvantages of this type of swings in this second age group, when they are already walking and have some agility (around 2 years old). I’m not talking here about babies in the strict sense, that would give for another even longer debate, hehe, on whether or not to sit them when they are barely holding themselves.
BECAUSE I DON’T LIKE THIS KIND OF SWING
- They are a brake on autonomy
Placing children in this type of swings is a brake on their autonomy. Most are like closed boxes in which the child can only be placed from above, it is very difficult for him to climb and sit (until he is older, at least), with which, we are making them dependent on the adults to swing.
- They make learning difficult
But this type of swings not only slow down autonomy, but once placed on them they also make it difficult to learn to swing.
Typical baby swings, which are protected on all sides, prevent the movement required to swing. The barrier behind the back does not allow the child to lean his torso back, so that he cannot gain the necessary momentum to begin swinging.
Stretching and shrinking the legs is not enough if the back cannot move. So this type of swing confuses children and does not encourage them to do it themselves.
- Contribute to a vision of risk and danger in childhood play
When I was little there were no such swings. At least I don’t recall seeing any. Yes there were some metal chairs, but in general, in the parks there used to be the classic flat base swing and the little ones either did not swing or we tried different strategies to balance ourselves.
So, what motivated the appearance of this type of swings? I think that the current vision we have on risk in play and in childhood influenced the generalization of safety swings, seeing as a safe option for the little ones to swing. They are protected on all sides, so the child will not escape or get hurt.
But you won’t have any incentive to learn to swing either. So that? If they already swing me and it’s a lot of fun.
BENEFITS OF LEARNING TO SWING ON YOURSELF
But the reality is that if we let children guide their own learning process to swing, they get many other benefits beyond swinging.
- It favors problem solving: I want to balance myself and I don’t know. What I can do? What alternatives do I have?
When we leave children alone in front of a conventional swing, countless ideas arise so that they can swing, even if they cannot swing in the strict sense of the word. Some of the ideas that I have observed are these:
– They place the upper part of the torso, arms included, on the swing and they rock because their legs touch the ground and it allows them to give themselves momentum.
– Standing on a swing and moving your back back and forth allows you to swing and is easier than coordinating the movement of the back with that of the legs.
– Put the upper part of the torso on the swing, turn it on itself many times (screw the chain, go) and let it go. It is not swinging but it is very fun movement.
– Rocking between them. Something that arises spontaneously with children from 3 years or so, or between children of different ages, is swinging among them. It may seem to you that it is the same as an adult swinging them, but it is not because with it they have set their creativity in motion: we want to swing, we cannot, but we swing each other. It is much more valuable than swinging us, apart from much more fun.
I’m not listing these ideas for you to teach children at all, but to show that children are tremendously creative when faced with a challenge. If we give them the space and the opportunity, we will see these ideas parade and many others to get swinging.
- They have to find out how that “tool” worksand with it they are going to learn things about mechanics and movement. What do I have to do with my body to get the swing to move?
- It empowers them. Learning or discovering that you can do things yourself is a wonderful feeling, right? In addition, feeling capable motivates children to continue learning and discovering other things.
MORE SUITABLE ALTERNATIVES
But with this article I do not mean that the little ones cannot swing. Nor that it is horrible that we swing them from time to time. What I defend is that, as usual, we use more appropriate alternatives. Swings that promote their autonomy and do not confuse them on how to swing.
If we want the little ones to be able to enjoy swinging, we can offer other options that do not detract from their autonomy and at the same time show them that they are capable on their own.
This type of swing, placed low, allows children to climb the swing alone without help, from an early age. They can sit on the carrycot directly and start to push off with their feet (which touch the ground) and when they gain motor skills and skills they can stand up and balance that way.
- Hanging cloth or scarf
This is an option that I personally love because it allows many uses and can be used by a wide range of ages.
In my experience, the little ones love to enter them and feel collected (as in the first photo). I don’t know if it evokes their mother’s womb, but I do know that they are very agustito. As they grow, they begin to find different ways to balance with the fabric. For example, as I said before, putting the upper part of the torso above the fabric and pushing with the feet, which touch the ground, forward and then fly backwards (middle image).
Older children are able to swing without problems with a fabric in addition to doing many other tricks with it.
If you want to try this option, make sure they support the weight of the children. Twill twill fabrics, such as those for carrying scarves or hammocks, are very resistant. Circus-specific fabrics also work great and, in addition, they have the advantage that they are elastic and help with rocking. In addition, they are very loving, they adapt super well to the body. The first two images are circus cloth. The third is scarf fabric.
- Tire positioned horizontally
Tires placed horizontally, held by three points that are joined at the top, in a rotating screw, are another option for children from 2 or 3 years old, you know that age is always relative, hehe.
Being joined by the rotating screw, the swing turns on itself as the children pull the body backwards. In addition, if the tire is placed low, children can climb on their own, generally at the beginning they enter through the inside of the tire and as they grow … they also enter from the outside.
The little ones will not be able to swing in the strict sense with them but they can turn and swing.
It is also an option that allows you to swing collectively, since 2 or 3 children can fit at the same time.
There are other options and much more to comment on each one. I hope to be able to have Carme and Pitu, from El Nou Safareig , on the blog soon and talk with them at length about other options and above all, how to place each of these swings, at what height, in what place, with what pavement damper, etc.
WHERE TO FIND THESE SWINGS?
Finding this type of swings in the parks is frankly complicated, I know, but I wanted to express these reflections to try to spread the idea that baby swings are not necessary, but on the contrary, they can even be counterproductive, as well as constantly rocking them.
Starting from here, we can put more appropriate swings, depending on the stage of development, at home, in the yard … And in the parks … we can look for those with normal and short swings, so that children can experience for themselves how to climb , swing … And if we want to rock them, yes or yes, let’s look for alternatives that do not confuse them or prevent them from beginning to understand the mechanics of the swing, such as spider web or net swings. In these swings they can be stretched out enjoying the swing without more.
Swinging children and safety swings can be fun, but offering them options so they can do it themselves is even better.
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