Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Smart Connect Cradle n Swing review: The Fisher-Price Cradle 'n Swing can't justify its price
Sometimes the only way to soothe a baby is by holding her. But if you want to have a life (or just some sanity), an alternative means of soothing the kid is really important. I have personal experience living at the whims of a teething child, and I'm a strong believer in buying some sort of rocker, swing or seat that'll give parents a little relief when they need it. The question is, which one should you buy?
It's not an easy question, in part because every child is different. Some babies like to ride in cars, some like to be rocked in cradles. But Fisher-Price's 4-in-1 Smart Connect Cradle 'n Swing tries to solve that problem by doing it all. I love the flexibility, but between a high price of $200 (about £150 or AU$270) and a giant frame, the Cradle 'n Swing loses some of its appeal. It's still worth considering, but only if you've already got the budget and the floor space.
Setting up the Cradle 'n Swing isn't as easy as I'd hoped. It took me between 30 and 40 minutes, and by the time I'd screwed together all the metal bars and fastened the plush cushion to the bed, I needed a break.
While initial setup isn't that big a deal, once the Cradle 'n Swing is assembled, it's also hard to move. This is a beast of a device, with the largest footprint of any baby-related tech I've tested. While it isn't too much larger than comparable non-smart devices, I still feel like its frame could be a little more compact. Additionally, it doesn't collapse well for travel or storage, so expect a permanent fixture in your home.
If you can get past the size, Fisher-Price's machine introduces some cool features. First off, it doubles as a swing and a rocker. You can automate the swing via the Bluetooth-enabled Smart Connect app, and you can also set it on a timer or with different swinging speeds. The rocker, on the other hand, involves no smarts -- it's just a cradle you can detach from the swing to rock your child to sleep.
Add in the standard music and ambient noise from the speaker, a mobile with light-up birds, and basic app control, and you're left with a pretty solid product.
The problem is, despite a compelling combination of features, I still want more out of the Fisher-Price Cradle 'n Swing. The Editors' Choice Fisher-Price Sleeper costs half as much, and feels about equivalent in its feature offerings. I want the Cradle 'n Swing to rock automatically. I want it to provide vibration settings. I just want more.
I know what you're thinking: "Why are you complaining about having to rock your own son to sleep?" I have no problem coaxing my child off to dreamland, but if I'm going to shell out $200 for a device that can soothe him so I can clean the kitchen, then I want it to self-rock.
The Fisher-Price Cradle 'n Swing isn't a must-buy product, especially given its price and features, but it performs reliably and my son genuinely enjoyed swinging in it for up to 30 minutes at a time. Many parents who need the relief of a rocker or swing will definitely get it from the Fisher-Price Cradle 'n Swing -- and for less money than some competitors, like the 4moms MamaRoo. But on its own merits, can the Cradle 'n Swing justify a $200 price tag? I'm doubtful.