As a mother, I can’t tell you how relieving it feels to see that every day, new products that aid baby care are pumped into the market. I could remember when I had my first baby and the confusion I felt being a new stay-at-home mom. I had to deal with an ever wailing baby without anyone to help. The stress of having to babysit and work at the same time took its toll on me and I fell really ill.
Thanks to Jess my best friend who came around to help and suggested that I get a baby swing or bouncer. Since my baby didn’t like being handled by another except me, I knew it was worth giving a try. At first, I was skeptical about letting an inanimate object do what I was supposed to do as a mom. However, Jess walked me through the process, the pros and cons before I went shopping.
For every expectant mom and new mom out there, this might just be what you need to soothe your baby while you get work done and relax your body.
First, what is a baby swing or bouncer?
A baby bouncer is an activity device used to secure a baby for the major essence of rocking the baby. This device is designed to move from side to side or up and down. It sure sounds like a breath of fresh air to some of you. Especially those of you who spend as much as an hour to three hours most days swaying from side to side trying to calm your little one while every other chore or work goes unattended to.
Every healthy baby loves to play, and playing for some could involve being swayed and cuddle from time to time. But most times, your arms would feel the pain, especially if your little one weighs as much as mine. The bouncer makes your baby stay put for a long time while enjoying the springy and swaying movements and lets them kick their legs in excitement. Some bouncers have added features like toys (cute stuffed animals hanging from the bouncer’s toy bar a little above the baby’s head, so that they can reach out and play with them) and vibrations.
The way a bouncer works
A bouncer moves gently when pushed lightly while your little one is in the seat. The springy or swaying mechanisms allows your baby to bounce right back, but this feature would continue for a little while because your extra push after every few minutes will keep things moving for your infant.
The baby bouncer is crafted to imitate the rocking motion of a baby lying in a mother’s stomach or cradling arms. This motion calms the baby and sometimes puts them to sleep.
Some bouncers, however, are batteries operated which will entail using a lot of batteries, while some are rechargeable or have an electric cord for direct power while in use. You should, however, note that the electric baby swings have a motor that can make noise, so consider the effect this will have on your baby. During the early weeks and months, your baby would enjoy simply lying in a reclined position and staring at your face while you rock the bouncer with your other hand. As your baby grows older, he/she would realize that the movement of their arms and legs are all they need to make the bouncer work.
When should my baby use a bouncer?
A lot of moms, however, are faced with the quiz of when to use the baby bouncer. Truth is, you can use a baby bouncer almost immediately your baby is born, but only for shorter periods because they are fragile and need more of your attention. You will mostly enjoy your baby bouncer when your baby is between three to six months of age. Due to the fact that parents are constantly in search of bouncers that last longer, manufacturers invented the infant-to-toddler bouncer which is suitable for toddlers up to 40 pounds.
Some of these infant-to-toddler rockers come with a kickstand that can be used to stabilize the bouncer so that it becomes a cute little chair for your little one. Toddler bouncers help strengthen, stretch, and build your baby’s legs in preparation for crawling and walking. It gives your baby a sense of balance without the risk of falling. These bouncers can stimulate your baby’s mind too. However, never make it a habit of leaving your baby in a bouncer because you could be preventing him/her from indulging in other playful activities required for growth and development.
I must point out here, that not all babies enjoy being put in a bouncer. Some prefer the old method of mommy cuddle which can be a little frightening especially if he or she doesn’t like being carried by others.
At this point, I would advise that you become extra patient with your baby, but keep trying to see if he or she would finally adapt. Some mothers in such situations tried using a different type of bouncer. Some switched to the vibrating type which their babies liked compared to the simple type. While some used the vibrating type coupled with adding sounds that make their baby comfortable.
If you are in such a situation, try out different types of bouncers and add new soothing techniques to help your baby adjust to being cuddled on a bouncer.
Baby bouncers can be crafted from wood, plastics or metal, but here are three major different types of baby bouncers namely:
Simple baby bouncers:
These types are really simple in design and structure, with no overhead toy bar in most cases. It allows the babies to have fun while letting them move their hands and legs.
Battery operated, rechargeable, plug-ins or Vibrating bouncers:
They have a sharp contrast to the simple baby bouncers which have a limited range of movement. These types of bouncers produce a vibrating sound with a battery or electrically operated motor.
Combination baby bouncers:
As the name suggests, they come with a combination of other activity features such as rockers or swings. They can be easily converted into rockers or swings.
Moving on, we would take into considerations factors you need to note before you purchase a baby bouncer or swing.
Factors To Consider When Buying A Baby Bouncer
Every baby bouncer/swinger comes with a manufacturer’s instruction specifying the exact weight capacity of the bouncer. Some manufacturers indicate an upper weight limit of 9 to 11kg because a heavier child may tip off the seat. There are some seats too that can carry toddlers and bigger babies. Always refer to this indicator before purchase.
A premature baby requires more neck, back, and tummy support compared to normal babies. This consideration tells you that premature babies are not fit for a baby bouncer to avoid complications. Better still; consult your pediatrician before you make a purchase.
Ensure that any bouncer you are about to purchase is able to go into full reclining position because the semi-reclining seat can be dangerous for your baby’s health. Semi-reclining bouncers might press on the chest of your baby and block airflow which can lead to the death of your baby.
Growth and development
There are milestones for different ages. Look out for these milestones such as being able to sit unassisted, or being able to stand unassisted. At this point, there is no need for the baby bouncer.
The texture of bouncer seat material
Ergonomic fabric seats are the best for your baby because it provides proper support and comfort for your baby’s neck, back, and head. Your baby should find it safe and comfortable to sit in, with no hard edges.
A 3 point harness is good for your baby, but a 5 point harness which holds down your baby’s shoulder and the down area is better.
While most bouncers glide from side to side, or rock forward and backward, there are bouncers that vibrate or bounce gently/vigorously in response to a baby’s kicks. Choose the motion that best suits your baby.
Removable seat cover
Newborns are bound to drool, spit-up and have diaper overflows, so ensure you get baby bouncers with removable and washable covers.
A bouncer that is wide, low to the ground with a sturdy frame that won’t tip to the side when your baby leans should be considered. It should also be the type that can fold or disassemble easily for storage or travel.
It is really important because the bouncer will always hold a wriggling baby. It keeps the bouncer in place.
A plush headrest
Bouncers are usually for smaller babies; always go for types that have a plush headrest which would support the baby’s head.
Some baby bouncers come with canopies and in-built mp3 players which enable you to play children’s songs or soothing songs for your baby. Some have a phone application that helps you adjust the music and reclining position of the bouncer.
Safety tips for using the bouncer
- Never place your baby bouncer on an elevated position with your baby on it. This is to avoid tipping over and throwing your baby on the floor
- Always secure your baby with the available straps that come with the bouncer.
- Most bouncers come in different positions. If you are using it for your newborn, switch to the full reclining position, while for older babies, you can use the upright position.
- An electric baby bouncer comes with as much as eight settings always start with slow movements and adjust to what your baby likes.
- If your bouncer is the electric type, look out for electrical malfunctions to avoid electrocuting accidents for you or your baby.
- Never use a bouncer as a car seat. All bouncers should be placed on the floor to avoid them tipping over.
- Always check for sharp edges that might hurt your baby.
- Never leave your baby unsupervised in a bouncer even if they are asleep. Better still, if your little one falls asleep, ensure that you put him or her in a cot. Leaving babies that are under 4 months of age to sleep in a bouncer stand the health risk of dying of hypoxia. Hypoxia happens when the head of the baby falls forward and inhibits the baby’s airway.
Read the story of 3-month-old Leia-Mai, the baby girl that died after being left in the bouncer for hours when mum fell asleep.
Safety tips continued…
- When swaying or adjusting the bouncer motion, ensure that you do not do it excessively. Just the same way you feel dizzy and queasy when going too fast in a car, your baby can feel the same way too and it could lead to Shaken Baby Syndrome.
- Never place your baby bouncer under a chair or table while the baby is in it. There could be the tendency of things dropping from the table or chair height and falling straight on your baby.
- If your baby enjoys eating in his or her bouncer, ensure that you burp after feeding before putting him or her back in the bouncer. If your baby burps unattended to while still reclining in the bouncer, there is a tendency of getting choked on burp release which can be really harmful to the nasal organs.
- Never use a baby bouncer on a bed because the lumpy or soft surface of the bed can make it tip forward, which can cause suffocation hazards to your baby.
- Don’t use a bouncer that is damaged or broken.
- Leaving your baby on a bouncer for long periods of times could lead to positional plagiocephaly(flattened head syndrome).
- Whenever your baby is in a bouncer, keep the bouncer far away from widow cords, heaters and monitor cords, so that they don’t reach out to these cords and pull things down to themselves.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended weight and age limits.
- Don’t lift or move your baby while he/she is in the bouncer. You might be tempted to use the toy bar as a handle, please do not because it might break and fall off causing injury to your baby.
- When purchasing a baby bouncer, make sure it is JPMA (Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association) certified.