Our son and daughter-in-law assembled one of those fancy baby swings to get ready for their new arrival. It was like watching pilots do a preflight inspection on a 747.
Four-position reclining seat? Check.
Padded seat cushion? Check.
Three-point safety harness? Check.
Plenty of leg room? Check.
I didn't see a seat pocket for the Wall Street Journal or Sky Mall, but I may have missed it.
The swing has "enhanced electronics" that provide 10 classical songs, five nature sounds and white noise. How about a headset to go with that blankie?
You can choose from three speeds: idle, take-off and cruising altitude.
The only thing missing is a motion sickness bag. Oh yes, and a little oxygen mask that could drop down in the event of an unexpected change in air pressure in the nursery.
Did I mention the monkeys? In addition to swinging, reclining and listening to the sound of rushing water, four monkeys dangle from a bar overhead and circle wildly.
The parents-to-be fire up all systems for a test run. The carnival music is blaring. The swing is flying back and forth at speeds clearly in excess of 70 mph. The clicking noise is clicking, the swinging monkeys are swinging - and over the racket, the daughter-in-law calmly says, "No wonder kids have such short attention spans."
It does make you wonder.
It also makes you wonder about the pictures of the babies in the ads for the swings. They're always reaching out with their pudgy little hands. I get it now. They're grabbing for the mobile figures, the "electronic enhancement" features -- and the off buttons. If babies could talk, 9 out of 10 would be yelling, "How about a little peace and quiet around here? Anybody ever think of that?"
It's not easy being pre-verbal.
Being strapped into one of those swings with all the noise and motion and flying monkeys would be great fun for a few minutes -- and then you'd want to claw your way out of the funhouse. And this wasn't even one of the deluxe swings that come with spinning rims and underbody neons.
The Mercedes of swings isn't even a swing. It looks like a swing and swings like a swing, but it's called a Sweetpeace Newborn Soothing Center. The soothing center has six swing speeds and "comforting low frequency sounds the baby heard in utero." There are also soothing lullabies, "waketime" songs, and an MP3 player jack and holder so babies can listen to their own playlists through high-quality speakers. Who would have thought infants would have Top Ten playlists?
You should also know that most swings will hold a baby weighing 25 to 30 pounds. Thirty pounds is a 3-year-old in the 50th percentile for growth. But when your entertainment is provided, why move?
Every growing family needs a baby swing. A swing can buy you 10, 15, if you're lucky, maybe 30 minutes, in which you can grab a shower, brush your teeth, and clean up the kitchen. And if the electronic enhancement features are off, you might even catch a little peace and quiet.