LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU
The amount of baby paraphernalia you can unwittingly accumulate as an enthusiastic parent can be quite astonishing - some of it more useful than others. The holy grail of infant kit however, is something that is useful and durable enough to endure to the next new arrival (should there be one) or, at the very least, can be passed on to someone else who can appreciate it. Throughout the first months of their life - until they can sit up unaided, babies either need to be held or put down somewhere. Even the most dedicated parent will soon discover that a constant stream of baby talk and facial gurning - just to keep the little bundle amused - will eventually have their brains seeping out of their ears. As such, having an infant version of an entertainment centre is a good half-way house between cuddles and cot, and, of the many kid-orientated products we have tried and tested, the Fisher Price Aquarium Take Along Swing does the job perfectly and stands out for its excellent value.
WHAT IS IT?
The Swing is a collapsible, portable and motorised baby rocker that is embellished with various dangly bits, lights and sounds and is kitted out in an aquatic theme. It has a deep bucket seat with a safety harness to secure the baby in place and offers a number of types of sensory stimulation for keeping him or her entertained. The product is engineered with a simple angled L-frame (think of a triangle with one side missing) from which the swing seat hangs, making an A-shape, with the main controls and the battery compartment located at the apex of the "A" for ease of access. The control section also has lights (one red and one blue) and a speaker built into the underside. Battery life is good - the product uses four C batteries, which seem to last for a fair while (you'll know when they start to weaken as the music starts to distort) but longevity will ultimately depend on the quality of batteries you use and how often you use the electronic functions (more on these below). The batteries are housed in a casing that is screwed shut (with two small Phillips or cross-headed screws) and can be a bit tricky to put in and take out because of the way the compartment is engineered. We often use the swing without turning it on as somewhere to deposit Baby H when we need our hands free, as the colourful get-up is usually enough to keep him occupied for a good five or ten minutes. The product is already assembled and folded when you take it out of the box - unfolding it and setting it up is intuitive and very quick to do.
The Swing offers a number of functions that can be used separately or together. Motorised Swing
The motor has eight speeds, ranging from a gentle rocking motion to a slightly more vigorous swing, but to be frank, there seems little appreciable difference (to an adult) between low speed and top speed and, as such, the eight settings seem a little over-engineered. You can use the motorised swing without engaging any of the other functions.