Go Back

Baby and Toddler Swing DIY



  • 2 1″ x 48″ oak or poplar dowel rods
  • at least 22 ft. braided 3/16″ rope that holds up to 192 lbs.
  • one 2" welded steel ring that holds up to 200 lbs.
  • one 80mm steel carabiner that holds up to 280 lbs.
  • 2 yards of duck cloth, upholstery-weight fabric, or canvas.  If you use a print that has a specific direction you may need more.
  • 1/2 yard of batting
  • decorative wooden beads found at a chain craft store
  • heavy duty ceiling hook optional


  • sewing machine and thread in coordinating color
  • power drill with 3/8″ drill bit
  • hand saw or circular saw
  • canvas weight sewing needle
  • scissors
  • sandpaper in 150 and 100 grit
  • lighter for melting rope ends
  • iron and ironing board
  • straight pins


  1. Step One:  Cut two 36″ x 12″ pieces (seat), two 12″ x 11″ pieces (back), and two 6 1/2″ x 11″ pieces (front) from your canvas. Then cut one 12″ x 11″ piece from your batting for the back as well as one 6 1/2″ x 11″ piece for the front. This is for extra padding against the front and back pieces of dowel. If you’d really like to go for it, add batting to the large seating piece as well. For each panel, place your batting down first, then one of your two pieces with the right side facing up, then finally the last piece with the right side facing down. Pin together and move on to the next panel until you’ve done all three.

  2. Step Two:  Starting about 1″ from one corner, stitch all the way around the edge of your front panel, stopping about 4″ from where you started. You’ll need the opening to help you turn it right side out.Once you’ve turned it right side out, poke your corners out with a pencil to retain your rectangular shape. Finally, iron flat and stitch all the way around. Repeat with the back panel, but not the seat panel.

  3. Step Three:  Set aside the top piece of your seat panel and center the front and back panels as shown. 

  4. Step Four: Fold the back panel on to the seat panel so that the edges are flush, and pin. Then place the front panel on to the seat panel with one of the short edges flush against the seat panel edge. It’s hard to see with this pattern, but the two panels will overlap. They are only pinned along the edges where they meet the seat panel though. 

  5. Step Five: Place your second seat panel on top of everything and line up the edges. Pin around the edges. Starting about 3″ from the corner of one short end, stitch all the way around until you get a hand’s width from where you started. Remove all the pins. Just like in step two, turn right side out and poke your corners out with a pencil. Remove pins that held the front and back panel in place.

  6. Step Six: Iron your panels flat in this shape, and then stitch all along the edge of the large seat panel. This will reinforce your seat’s strength and will close the opening. 

  7. Step Seven: Cut your poplar or oak dowels into four lengths of 15″. Measure 1 1/2″ in from each end and make a mark. Drill a hole over each mark. Sand with 150 and then 100 grit sand paper, and then wipe with a damp cloth. 

  8. Step Eight: Fold each end of each panel inside so that a rod will fit snugly. While holding in place, remove the rod and pin. Stitch two lines across as shown to create your rod pocket. Remove pins.

  9. Step Nine: Once all four rod pockets have been stitched, insert your rods.

  10. Step Ten: Cut two lengths of rope measuring about 11′ long each, and use your lighter to burn the ends. This will keep them from fraying.

  11. Step Eleven: Pull both lengths of rope through your welded steel ring, and find the middle. Tie a knot. Clip your steel ring onto your carabiner. 

  12. Step Twelve: The two dowels that slide through the seat panel will rest on top of the two dowels that make up the front and back panels. Thread beads (if you prefer) to your rope ends before you slide them through your dowels. This can add another layer of interest for babies and give them something smooth to hold on to. Thread one rope down through the seat panel dowel and then down into the front panel dowel, and tie a loose knot. Repeat with the rest of the corners. Once you’ve got your seat level, tighten your knots and trim up any ends that are uneven. However, be sure to leave a little bit of a tail in each knot so things don’t become undone easily.  You may have to melt cut ends again.

  13. Attach your swing to a heavy duty hook that has been screwed into a beam, or clip it onto another sturdy rope that has been tied around a tree trunk. Be sure to test your swing with a few strong tugs, a sack of potatoes, etc. before letting your eager toddler have a seat. Also note that this swing is intended for gently pushing and not the traditional playground under dog.  

Recipe Notes

To keep your swing looking its best, you may not want to leave it outside in extended bad weather. Otherwise, wipe with a damp cloth to spot clean. The dowel rods have been left untreated, but a great non-toxic option for finishing the wood would be beeswax. If your child isn’t quite filling out the swing, you can always add a folded blanket or small pillow behind him to help prop him up.