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Are you looking for a safe way to entertain your baby while you get things done? Like maybe taking a two-minute shower or preparing a meal?
If so, a baby bouncer could be just what you need. A good baby bouncer secures the child in a comfortable reclining position where she can look at toys, gaze at pretty lights, feel gentle vibrations, and even listen to music.
With a sturdy frame and a secure safety seat, a bouncer allows baby to enjoy some independent fun while you enjoy having both of your hands free.
For many harried parents of newborns, that makes it a must-have.
Through diligent product research, we’ve identified five top-quality baby bouncers that earn consistently high marks from owners.
The baby bouncers in our product matrix, above, receive terrific consumer ratings and are highly recommended by owners. We’re proud to endorse them.
If you would like to read more about baby bouncers, please see our shopping guide, below, for helpful tips and advice.
Basic baby bouncers are the simplest variety available. They’re considered to be basic because they include no toys, lights, sounds, or motion controls. If you’re looking for a plain reclining seat that your baby can bounce in, this could be the perfect choice for you.
Basic bouncers offer a huge advantage over other options in that they tend to have more “spring.” This is because they’re not bogged down with the weight of additional toys or other equipment. And because they lack external features, they easily fold for travel and are quite portable.
Because a basic bouncer tends to have more spring than an activity bouncer, some experts speculate that baby feels more “in control” of her motions in a basic bouncer.
Activity bouncers sport the bells and whistles that basic bouncers lack. From toy rails to mobiles to vibrating musical seats, these units provide valuable sensory stimulation as well as absorbing entertainment for baby.
Due to the additional features, activity bouncers tend to have a bit less spring than their basic counterparts. They’re also bulkier and not as easy to transport and store. However, the features found on an activity bouncer can keep your baby entertained for longer than a basic bouncer.
A bouncer that vibrates may help soothe a crying or distressed child. Some parents use them to help baby fall asleep. Your baby should NEVER be left in a bouncer unattended, and she should never be permitted to sleep in the bouncer.
Your baby will spend a fair amount of time reclining in her bouncer seat, so you want to make sure you get one that’s comfortable. Whichever seat you buy, we recommend that you look for one with some or all of the following characteristics:
Some bouncers come with removable covers that are machine washable. Others are made of waterproof fabric that’s easy to wipe down.
Some manufacturers add padding around the frame of the seat. For most children, this makes the seat more comfortable, which is a plus, of course.
This feature helps protect baby’s neck while she’s bouncing. Some head supports are removable so the bouncer can be still be used as the child grows stronger.
Bouncers are typically meant for babies who are yet to do more than wiggle. They should not be used for kids who can turn or crawl as these activities can upset the bouncer.
Many bouncers feature a three-point harness system, but some products incorporate a five-point buckle system for added security. The latter is the type of harness that you will also find on top-quality car and booster seats.
Always buckle your child into her harness when she’s in the bouncer. If you don’t, she could slide out of the apparatus and onto the floor, or her nose and mouth could become wedged in such a way that she cannot breathe.
This feature is great if you want the option of adjusting your baby’s reclining position. And who wouldn’t want to make their baby as cozy as possible? Newborns tend to be more comfortable when they’re reclining, but older babies sometimes like to sit up straight.
Your bouncer’s seat material should be soft to the touch with no coarse seams that could irritate baby’s smooth skin.
The frame plays a key role in the functionality of a baby bouncer. It supports and elevates the seat so it’s secure and oh-so-bounceable.
Even though most baby bouncers come with anti-slip bases, you can place the bouncer on an anti-slip mat for increased stability.
Baby bouncers come with an array of entertainment options, including the following:
Some activity baby bouncers include toy bars that sit above the baby. Most of these bars come with removable toys, but some have toys that are permanently attached. If you’re thinking of buying the latter, make sure the attached toys would appeal to your baby’s developmental level first.
A bouncer with a toy bar gives you the option to select toys based on your baby’s developmental stage.
Want your baby to take in a little Mozart as she reclines? Some bouncers have a musical switch that allows the child to be serenaded as she plays. Other bouncers have a “white noise” option that can help lull the child to sleep. (A baby should never be permitted to sleep in her bouncer. See our Safety Tip section for more information.)
If you plan to use your bouncer as a sleep aid, this is a great feature. Some bouncers include a nice menu of vibration settings, from a “gentle” buzz to a more “bouncy” setting. In particular, babies who easily fall asleep in the car may respond well to this feature.
A vibrating seat is also appropriate for a newborn who doesn’t have the strength to bounce on her own yet.
Bouncers soothe babies by providing gentle vibrations and to-and-fro motions. Check the amount of motion provided by a bouncer to make sure it is not too rough or too little.
Most bouncers are designed only for the first several months of a baby’s life. Manufacturers typically display their recommended weight and height guidelines right on the box. It’s important that you adhere to them, as a bouncer that’s too big or too small could pose a risk for the child.
To minimize the possibility of tipping over, place your bouncer on a solid, flat surface. (A mattress is an example of a non-solid surface.) A frame with a non-slip base provides extra reassurance that baby won’t tip over.
Don’t forget to snugly strap and/or buckle your baby into her seat. The harness holds your child in place and helps prevent her from falling out. Search for straps that are both durable and comfortable.
For safety reasons, never allow your baby to sleep in her bouncer, swing, or car seat!
A baby could easily bounce her way off of a counter or table top. Never place her up high in her bouncer.
Though it may be tempting to pick up your baby while she’s in her bouncer, don’t do it.
The U.S. Office of the Federal Register (OFR) reports that at least one fatality has occurred because an adult tried to transport an inhabited bouncer — the child fell and died of head trauma.
Sleep can be a dangerous time for infants. Even when restrained in her bouncer, a sleeping baby may move in such a way that causes her to suffocate. The OFR reports multiple cases of positional asphyxia in which a child was left to sleep in a bouncer.
If you choose to use your bouncer as a sleep aid, stay with your child the entire time, and watch her carefully. Once she becomes sleepy, transport her to a more appropriate sleeping area.
Leaving your baby in her bouncer for too long isn’t healthy for her developing body. Specifically, the bones in the skull are still forming; holding them against a flat surface for hours at a time could lead to “flat head syndrome,” otherwise known as plagiocephaly.
A great way to lower the risk of plagiocephaly, according to Dr. Jay L. Hoecker of the Mayo Clinic, is to provide the child with tummy time — supervised time in which an awake, alert infant is placed on her stomach in order to exercise the head, neck, and shoulder muscles.
Note: The CDC offers helpful prevention tips that can help protect your child against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.
A piece of parental advice: if you choose a bouncer with sounds, try to find one with a good variety, or at least a menu of music that you truly appreciate. That way, you won’t get tired of hearing the same song over and over again!
Q: At what age can my baby begin using a bouncer, and at what age should she stop?
A: Most baby bouncers are designed for the first few months of life. Once your baby can roll over and sit up on her own, you should stop using the bouncer, as she is strong enough to tip it over while she’s inside of it.
Q: Can I use the bouncer outside?
A: You could certainly take a baby and her bouncer outside, but remember to place the apparatus on a flat surface away from potential hazards such as stair steps, swimming pools, loose pets, and so on. Sun shades are available on some baby bouncers to shield baby’s vulnerable skin from the sun.
Q: How do you keep a baby bouncer clean?
A: If you buy a bouncer with a removable cover, it can probably be machine washed. (Check the label first.) If you buy a bouncer with waterproof fabric, you can easily wipe it down with a bit of dish soap and water on a washcloth.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.