Friday, April 19, 2024

Types of Sensory Swings & Tips for Choosing a Swing

This website uses affiliate links. As an affiliate and Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, which means I make a small commission when you use these links, at no additional cost to you.

Do I have hyperlexia? Is my child hyperlexic? Take the free online hyperlexia quiz today!

A look at different types of sensory swings, as well as factors to consider when choosing a swing.

You're likely already familiar with what a sensory swing is and what the benefits of sensory swings might include.

And now you're at the stage of researching what kind of swing you might want to purchase or install.

Well, that's what this guide is for! It goes over some of the most common and popular types of sensory swings so that you can make an informed decision about what type will be the right fit for you child's needs. So, let's dig in!

Common types of sensory swings for kids, as well as factors to consider when choosing a swing

Types of Sensory Swings

Sensory swings come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors, fabrics, textures, and styles. Here are some common types that you might want to consider trying out:

Example of a stretchy cuddle sensory swing for kids

1. Stretchy Swing

When you think of a sensory swing, this type of swing is likely what comes to mind. It's essentially a large piece of fabric that envelopes you like a cocoon and cuddles your body. It stretches and conforms to the shape of your body and your movements, providing lots of deep pressure and proprioceptive sensory input.

Stretchy swings like these are great for anyone who likes deep pressure, enjoys swinging in a wide variety of directions and intensities, and may be more sensitivity to the texture and feel of certain fabrics. These types of swings are usually quite soft and comfortable feeling due to the fabric that is used.

These swings are also great for blocking out overwhelming stimuli, such as bright lights, because of the way the fabric hugs and wraps the body. They're also great because of how versatile they are to use.

These types of swings have long been a favorite in our house and we have even made a few DIY variations, including our DIY taco swing and DIY woven wrap swing.

Example of a hammock swing for kids

2. Hammock Swing

If you prefer a more gentle swinging motion, then hammock swings are a great choice.

Unlike a traditional hammock, though, a hammock swing is designed to sit or recline in versus lay down in. They can be made from a variety of materials, usually nylon or canvas, but they can also be made out of mesh or ropes. At least, the hammock swing we have is made entirely out of ropes (similar to this one).

Hammock swings hug the body pretty well, especially if you have a rope one like us, providing lots of deep pressure as you gently swing.

Example of a sensory pod swing for kids

3. Pod Swing

To me, pod swings look a bit like a teardrop in terms of their shape. Regardless, they provide a bit of a fabric cocoon, which is why they're sometimes also referred to as cocoon swings.

These types of swings usually have an inflatable air cushion inside to sit on, which can be great for building core strength and developing balance. It's almost like sitting on a balance cushion inside of the swing.

Pod swings can be used to provide gentle swing movements, but are also great for spinning in circles. At least that's how my kids liked to use the pod swing!

Example of a therapy platform swing for kids

4. Platform Swing

This type of swing features a flat and sturdy base with ropes coming up from each corner. Sometimes they are a wood base covered in carpet and sometimes they are made of other materials or fabrics.

Due to its large base and ropes in every corner to hang onto, platform swings allow for a variety of different positions to sit, kneel, or lay down. They can also be swung freely in all directions so they're particularly great for providing lots of vestibular sensory input. And they can usually hold multiple children at once.

Example of a round saucer swing for kids

5. Round Saucer Swing

Saucer swings are essentially like platform swings, but round (obviously). They're great for sitting, laying, standing (see this activity), or kneeling and can accommodate multiple children on it at a time.

We picked up a saucer swing for super cheap at Costco and it has been a staple at our house for years. We use it both indoors and outdoors.

Example of a bolster swing for kids

6. Bolster Swing

My kids used to call these swings "hotdog swings," but they can also be referred to as log swings. Basically, they feature a long cylindrical base to sit or lay on, with ropes on each end, suspended from the ceiling.

These types of swings are usually quite expensive and more commonly found in occupational therapy settings versus in homes.

Example of a disc swing for kids

7. Disc Swing

This type of swing has a small flat, disc-shaped seat (hence the name), made either from wood or plastic, with a rope coming up from the middle. Basically, you sit on the disc while hanging onto and straddling the rope in the middle.

Disc swings are great for building core strength and developing balance. They can be quite tricky to stay on because of the unstable and wobbly seat.

We actually managed to get a disc swing for our outdoor swing set for free as part of a community curbside swap day. Thank you to the neighbor down the street!

Example of a rope ladder swing for kids

8. Ladder Swing

This type of swing features ropes and wooden dowels arranged like a ladder. As you climb up the ladder, the whole thing sways and swings around, making it a bit of a challenge to climb all the way up. You can also sit on one of the wooden bars and swing.

Ladder swings are great for building muscles and strength and they're still a favorite for my boys as they get older.

Example of a trapeze swing for kids

9. Trapeze Swing

Another favorite for my youngest son is the trapeze swing. It is worth noting that trapeze swings can take a few different forms. We personally own three variations of the trapeze swing: a horizontal bar (no rings), gymnastic rings (with no horizontal bar), and a horizontal bar with built-in rings.

These types of swings require a lot of upper body strength and can be used in a few different ways. You can pull yourself up, swing back and forth, sit on the bar, hang upside down, and even do flips off of them (my youngest's personal favorite way to use the trapeze swing).

Example of a skateboard swing for kids

10. Skateboard Swing

Imagine a skateboard deck suspended off the ground with a handlebar on each end to hang on to and that's what a skateboard swing is. Usually, you stand on the skateboard swing, but you could also sit or kneel instead.

These types of swings are great for improving balance and require some good coordination skills to get them rocking back and forth.

Example of a sensory ball swing for kids

11. Ball Swing

A ball swing is essentially just a giant inflatable ball attached to a single rope. You sit on the ball and straddle and hang onto the rope while you swing. It requires a lot of core strength and balance as it's quite an unstable surface to sit on.

Also, be sure to sing "I came in like a wrecking ball!" as you least, that's what I do on these types of things, especially the knitted ones at our local children's museum...

But hey, if you want to make your own ball swing, you can do that too. Tutorial here.

Common types of sensory swings found in a sensory room or sensory gym

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Swing

Now that you know about the different swing options, how do you decide which type of swing will be the best fit for your child? Well, there are a few things to consider when picking a swing, such as:

  • Weight capacity and safety - Not only for the swing itself, but the swing hooks and carabiner clips as well. Each of these items will have different weight capacities to consider.
  • Individual preferences and needs of the individual who will be using the swing (e.g., sensory needs, color preferences, comfort)
  • Age limits for the swing - Yes, some swings do have age limits.
  • Installation and setup requirements (e.g., what's required to install it? will it work with your current swing hooks? does it require one hook or two?)
  • Size and space requirements (e.g., how much clearance does it require? will it fit in your space?)
  • Material and its durability - Be sure to consider the child's sensory preferences when considering materials!
  • Professional consultation - You might want to check with an occupational therapist to determine the right type of swing for your child's needs.
  • Cost and budget - Prices of swings can vary widely and may not fit within your allotted budget so it's definitely something to keep in mind.

It's important to consider all of these factors. Once I bought a used pod swing for $10 and was super excited about it. However, when I got home, I realized that it needed to be mounted using only one swing hook. Our setup used two swing hooks and placing this pod swing on only one of those hooks wouldn't work or fit because of its closeness to the doorframe.

Factors to consider when choosing a sensory swing for children

Summary of Types of Swings for Children

As you can see above, there are lots of different types of sensory swings available these days, from stretchy fabric swings and platform swings to ladder swings and trapeze style swings. They each have their own benefits too.

Ultimately, what type of swing will be best for your needs will depend on a lot of different factors, including size and space requirements, budget, and the individual preferences of who will be primarily using the swing.

Sometimes certain swings will work for different purposes and you might find it beneficial to have a variety of different types on hand. For instance, we had almost all of these types of swings on hand (we got great deals on most of them!) and would use different ones for different purposes. So if my boys needed a specific type of sensory input, we would pick the swing that would best fit those needs.

Remember, there is no one size fits all when it comes to determining what sensory swing will be the best fit for your child. So be sure to read through all of these different types of sensory swings and pick the ones that will work best for you and your child's needs.

Common types of sensory swings for kids, as well as factors to consider when choosing a swing