“ Brand: Early Learning Centre / Type: Swing „
As the weather has slightly improved we've been trying to spend some time in the garden preparing the soil for planting. With Little Man being under one and not yet able to walk we needed to find a way to keep him occupied while we were digging. We couldn't just let him play on the grass, he'd get far too wet, so seeing as he loves the swings at the park so much, we thought we'd buy him one of his very own. A little research soon showed us that we didn't really have that much choice when it came to swings for a baby. We could have bought a standard swing and then a separate baby seat, but we went down the route of the ELC Nursery Swing, which we bought for the rather exorbitant price of £35.
==An Engineering Degree Required?==
This brightly coloured swing is supplied flat-packed meaning there is a degree of self-assembly required. I will warn you that the box it is packed in is fairly heavy and unwieldy, so if you decide to buy this either ensure that your car is close to the shop or even better get it delivered. The swing is not too difficult to assemble, the instructions are clear and the supplied Allen key is perfectly adequate. You will need to assemble this outside though, as although the ELC claim that it folds for easy storage, once the struts are in place it definitely does not fold. All told it took me between quarter and half hour to fully assemble the swing for first use.
Once assembled the swing takes up a fair amount of garden space, we have a reasonably large garden, so had no problem accommodating it, but you should check that you have an area at least 100cm x 168cm plus a little extra to give swinging space. At 119cm tall, the swing is just about the right height for the suggested age group, there's plenty of room for legs to swing, but the seat is not so high that there's far to fall. The frame is made from durable powder coated metal, while the seat is made from moulded plastic. The design of the seat is a little strange, it looks more like a highchair than a swing to me, with a bumper bar and five point harness. The harness is fully adjustable and can also be placed in one of two positions in the seat. What I don't like is that there is no bar to go between the child's legs, while I do understand that the harness should hold them in place, that bar would have given me a little extra piece of mind.
We've not really had the swing too long as yet, just over a month, but it has had some use and has been left out in all sorts of weather. So far since purchasing and assembling the swing, we've had lots of rain, plenty of frost and even a good deal of fog with the occasional glimpse of the sun. Basically it's been left out to weather the worst that the British spring can throw at it. And so far it's coped admirably, there's no sign of rusting, the harness shows no sign of rotting and dirt (including a present left by a bird) has been easy to wipe off.
==Swing, swing, swing the baby==
As soon as we had a day where it wasn't absolutely freezing or pouring with rain, we took Freddy into the garden to try out his new swing. Now this isn't the easiest of swings to put a baby into, in fact I find it quite awkward. I sort of have to lift the bumper bar up, put Freddy in, do up the harness and then put the bumper bar back down. Quite a kafuffle really and something that can become annoying, especially as just like most children, Freddy tends to want to swing for a while, then get out and then back in again. The harness is fully adjustable and holds Freddy firmly in place while I swing him.
As to whether Freddy enjoys spending time in the swing, well that's a definite yes. The swing action is smooth and I can push Freddy with minimum effort. After a good push the swing will keep on swinging for a good couple of minutes as it gradually swings lower and lower until it stops. The frame is very stable and even though Freddy is over 20lb, it doesn't wobble as he swings backwards and forwards. Obviously as he is still quite young, Freddy can't really manage to make the swing work on his own, but that doesn't stop him trying. I must say that even though the swing is quite expensive and it is a faff putting Freddy in it, the smile on his face makes it worth every penny and struggle.
The recommended age range for this swing is nine months to three years and I would agree with the lower limit wholeheartedly. Although the seat has a high back and deep seat that supports a baby and the harness will hold them in place, there's not really quite enough support for younger babies. As to the higher limit, well I really can't imagine that a 2-3 year old would be too happy at the idea of being strapped in (although the straps can be removed), so I can only really see us using this until Freddy is two.
Although this is a fairly good swing, that Freddy really enjoys spending time in, it does have some fairly serious flaws. I do like how well-made and stable it is and love the harness. But I don't like that it doesn't fold down when not in use (as much as ELC claims it does), I also don't like the lack of a bar between baby's legs, or how difficult it is to get Freddy in and out. So, in all honesty, I'm really struggling to recommend the ELC nursery swing, because as much as Freddy loves going in it and swinging, the negatives do outweigh the positives and I wish I'd spent a little more and bought a convertible swing instead.