The first few months with a newborn are fairly routine. You feed change, bathe them, and put them down for naps or the night. Hopefully, they’ll sleep for at least a few hours. During that time, you do as much as you can.
You try to catch up on the laundry, cook a few meals, or clean the house. Sometimes, you simply enjoy a nice, hot shower or try to sleep yourself. Such are actually luxuries at that time. Once your baby awakens, the cycle starts all over again.
Since your baby’s not all that active and still immobile, you can easily put them in a baby chair or carrier. Such keeps them safe and secure whether they’re awake or asleep. And, a carrier allows you to take them along with you wherever you go, both within the house and outside.
Between four and six months, when babies can independently support their necks and head and sit up on their own, they want, or rather, demand constant entertainment. The world is fascinating.
Just think about it. Simply what’s directly in front of them is full of so many interesting colors, textures, and sounds. They want to explore, touch and taste it all. We, unfortunately, lost the ability to see it like they do long ago and can’t appreciate it anymore.
While all that curiosity is wonderful for them and most exciting for you to witness, it limits your ability catch up on those chores. Their naps may be shorter and/or perhaps you’re back a work and have even less time to attend to certain responsibilities.
Sometimes, all you need is to be able to keep them safe, entertained, and happy for a short while, but still in your sight, perhaps while you fold laundry, take out the trash, iron, or prepare a meal.
- For years the answer was a baby walker.
- Baby Walkers
- Baby Jumpers
- Activity Centers (Exersaucers)
- Stationary Jumpers and Activity Centers
- What Components are Most Important
- Best Activity Center & Baby Jumper
- 1. Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo
- 2. Baby Einstein Neptune’s Ocean Discovery Jumper
- 3. Fisher-Price Luv U Zoo Jumperoo
- 4. Skip Hop Explore and More Baby’s View 3-Stage Activity Center
- 5. Evenflo Exersaucer Triple Fun Active Learning Center
- 6. Evenflo ExerSaucer Jump and Learn Jumper
- 7. Baby Einstein Activity Jumper Special Edition
- 8. Bright Starts Around We Go 3-in-1 Activity Center Zippity Zoo
- So, What’s Better? Jumper or Activity Center
For years the answer was a baby walker.
A baby walker is a contraption with wheels and a suspended baby seat. When babies sit in the seat, they use their feet to move themselves around. Historians can trace the baby walker back to at least 15th Century Europe. A painting entitled the Hours of Catherine of Cleves, painter unknown, actually shows the baby Jesus using a baby walker.
For many years, parents believed baby walkers entertained their babies, gave them independence, and helped them learn to walk. But, they led to injuries, many of which were severe. In one second, a baby could move up to four feet.
Despite preventative measures, babies were getting through doorways, getting close to hot stoves, within reach of dangerous substances, tilting over, and falling down stairs. Some also drowned in pools. Though the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a professional organization of pediatricians, declared them unsafe, sales continued.
In 1993, the AAP petitioned the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to ban the sale of walkers, but CPSC unanimously denied the petition. While the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association has required baby walkers be too wide to go through standard doorways and have mechanisms that halt them at the edge of steps, the AAP continues to nonetheless recommend that they are banned. Despite this, manufacturers continue to make them and retailers still sell them.
In 2004, Canada completely banned the sale of baby walkers. Possession of one can lead to a fine of up to $100,000 or six months in jail.
In response to AAP’s concerns, manufacturers developed baby jumpers and stationary activity centers (exersaucers).
More: Best Mini Cribs
A baby jumper is a stationary contraption with elastic straps that hold a suspended seat. Babies sit in the seat and use their feet to bounce off the floor. There are basically two types:
- Stationary Jumper (Jumperoo): this is a stationary contraption onto which elastic straps hold a suspended seat. Babies sit on the seat and bounce and spin. A tray of stimulating toys usually encircles the jumper.
- Doorway Jumper: clamps hold the jumper to a doorframe and bungee-like cable hold the suspended seat. Some have a few toys. Others can also be attached.
Activity Centers (Exersaucers)
An activity center or exersaucer, like a jumper seat, is a stationary contraption. Elastic straps hold a suspended seat. Babies sit on the seat and stand and bounce and turn. A tray of stimulating toys encircles the activity center.
The basic difference between a jumper (jumperoo) and activity center or exersaucer is that it’s easier for baby to jump and bounce in a jumperoo.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
The AAP and other experts doubt the safety of doorway jumpers. Falls are typical and babies have also suffered injuries when they’ve acquired too much motion and swung into doorways. Large dogs have unintentionally run babies and also caused swinging injuries. Clamps that held jumpers to the frames have broken, too.
Stationary Jumpers and Activity Centers
The AAP, as well as other experts, claim that the floor is the ideal place for a baby to learn and develop upper body and trunk power. If parents want to use a contraption, they favor the stationary jumpers and activity centers. They recommend that baby’s time is limited in such contraptions and balanced with floor time.
Parents and Independent Reviewers
Most parents and independent reviewers, while heeding the AAP and other experts’ concerns, maintain that their babies overwhelmingly enjoy their jumpers and activity centers and truly like being in them. They provide a safe atmosphere that’s stimulating, and entertaining and which also lets babies work off excess energy, which definitely improves their sleep.
They further let parents get things done without having to worry. Many couldn’t imagine life without them. Many articles add that parents’ should never feel bad about needing to get things done or breaks. Such is necessary for them to be good parents.
Most articles that review jumpers and activity centers recognize the AAP’s and other expert’s advice. They instruct heeding the time recommendations and making sure babies get the proper floor time and other important stimulation. As always, moderation is key.
What Components are Most Important
When you’re considering a baby jumper and/or activity center (exersaucer), there are a few components that make some just a bit better than the others. They are:
- Transportability: believe it or not, you’ll want to be able to transport your baby jumper or activity center even if you don’t think you’ll be doing it often. A trip or two to grandma’s or a few holiday dinners and you’ll really appreciate how wonderful it was that you were able to take it along with you.
- Toy Center: most of the good contraptions come with toy centers, but you want to make sure they keep your baby engaged. Those with interesting textures, that move in different directions, rattle, and are brightly colored are usually most attractive. The ability to detach toys and add on baby’s favorites is a plus.
- Lights and Sounds: it’s not mandatory, but lights and sound and especially music, will really engage, stimulate, and entertain your baby.
- Height Adjustment: your baby could be small when your purchase it and will most certainly grow during the months he or she uses it.
Make sure you also pay attention to the following:
- Weight Limits: make sure you check the weight limits prior to purchase. You should know when your baby can use it and when he or she must stop. If your baby is growing quickly and exceeds the limit, he or she could break the contraption.
- Age Requirements: most guidelines state that babies can use jumpers and activity centers when they can sit up unassisted, which is usually between four and six months. Consumer Reports also says that a baby can use a stationary activity center when they can sit up unaided. Always, however, follow the contraption’s age restrictions. They sometimes vary.
- Seat: a padded one offers more comfort. More importantly, a removable seat can be easily cleaned in the washing machine.
- Clean-ability: babies make messes, so look for a baby jumper and/or activity center (exersaucer) that you can clean easily. Sharp corners are difficult to clean. Teethers and toys baby regularly puts in his or her mouth should be cleaned daily.
Experts have concerns if you are considering purchasing a second-hand contraption or accepting a hand-me-down. Such may not be currently safe, may have hazardously broken or worn pieces, and might have even been recalled. (The AAP’s website, www.aap.org, contains information regarding safety warnings and recalls)
In addition to these suggestions, always, always, always check with your pediatrician first regarding any device or contraption you wish to use with your baby.
Best Activity Center & Baby Jumper
Here are some of the best baby jumpers and activity centers (exersaucers), according to independent reviewers and other parents. Most were included on nearly every best list:
1. Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo
This jumper topped many best lists and is considered the best selling jumper. Its toys have a rainforest zoo animal theme (parrot, monkey, frog). It teaches different languages, contains a teething toy, piano, and a snack tray. Parents said that it provided constant stimulation. When their babies didn’t feel like jumping or rotating, they played with the fun toys. Afterward, they went back to jumping and rotating. Then, they went back to the toys (you get the idea). Essentially, it gave them the time they needed to attend to their chores.
Most parents said that it is well constructed, easy to clean, and lightweight, so they could take it around the house and to other places. It stimulated their babies and helped them rest well. Many considered it a lifesaver. The few that had issues reported that Fisher-Price took care of them immediately. Complaints were limited to height settings. Some babies weren’t tall enough to reach the floor or some of the toys. Nearly everyone said that the ir babies “loved” their jumpers and highly recommended them.
2. Baby Einstein Neptune’s Ocean Discovery Jumper
This jumper has an ocean animal theme (octopus, starfish, fish), plenty of activities, a food tray, piano, and loops upon which parents can attach even more toys. The sounds aren’t as loud or insufferable as other jumpers, which parents liked. Parents said that it’s not as springy as some of the other choices and that the wide seat opening can sometimes cause babies with not-yet-developed lower core strength to slump backward and forward (some sites say that a pillow or folding blanket would easily solve the matter). The majority of purchasers highly recommended it.
3. Fisher-Price Luv U Zoo Jumperoo
This jumper has a zoo animal theme (hippo, giraffe, monkey), a rainbow spinning wheel, a mirror, and sounds and music. It introduces baby to colors, textures, and shapes, all while keeping him or her fully entertained. Reviewers and purchasers were, once again, very pleased by how Fisher-Price responded to any issue. Some purchasers felt that the sides felt wobbly and worried it would come loose, but that was just a worry. Most purchasers were pleased with it. Some felt that it was bulky and awkward to move.
4. Skip Hop Explore and More Baby’s View 3-Stage Activity Center
This starts out as a jumper, on which baby can sit and jump and spin. You can also add additional toys. It also comes with clip-on sensory toys that can be attached and switched around. Once baby can stand, they can hold on and walk around the table and play from the outside. Once baby is a toddler, the toys and platform can be taken off and it can be used an activity table. Most purchasers were pleased. Some complained that toys broke off.
5. Evenflo Exersaucer Triple Fun Active Learning Center
This is a set that you can use from infant through toddler stage. It’s rain-forest animal themed (butterfly, dragonfly, parrot, alligator) and starts out as an infant play mat with overhead toys. Baby can then use the portable exersaucer activity mat, which has eleven toys and music. Then, it turns into a toddler play table. The seat is removable and machine washable. Purchasers complained that the seat was flimsy and unpadded, that it required extensive assembly, and that babies could sometimes pull off toys.
6. Evenflo ExerSaucer Jump and Learn Jumper
This is, of course, a jungle themed activity center (giraffe, lion, monkey, elephant). Created in partnership with the Child Development Institute, it has over fifty learning activities and is made to allow babies develop their back, leg, and neck muscles and improve their gross motor capabilities. It’s easy to clean, adjustable, and the seat can be removed for machine washing. It doesn’t, however, offer sound or music and some complained it was large, hard to transport, and that some of the jumping springs broke.
7. Baby Einstein Activity Jumper Special Edition
This colorful jumper has over twelve activities and three play stations, which includes a spinning frog and piano. Loops allow you to add additional toys. Many parents didn’t find the sounds and songs annoying, which was a huge plus. It’s adjustable and easy to assemble. Most purchasers were very pleased with the jumper. Some claimed it didn’t bounce well and was heavy.
8. Bright Starts Around We Go 3-in-1 Activity Center Zippity Zoo
This is a stationary activity station/exersaucer that’s for babies six months and older. It has more than fifteen activities and can grow with baby through the toddler years. When baby can stand, he or she can play on the table unassisted. Though baby can move about in the chair, he or she is restricted to the external border of the activity table. The “three” part refers to the modes of play: animal sounds, melodies, and piano notes. The majority of buyers were very pleased with their purchase. Some parents, however, did not feel comfortable with this activity center. Despite that it is stationary, it nonetheless has a separate walker attachment, which made them comfortable. Some buyers also complained that pieces came off easily and seemed cheap.
So, What’s Better? Jumper or Activity Center
Every purchase and every reviewer had an opinion and each contraption has a significant list of advantages, AAP, and other expert concerns notwithstanding. Reviewers and opinions are fantastic and extremely helpful and usually spot-on, but, they are opinions and, well, everyone has them. Whether one is better than the other depends on each individual to whom you consult and whether one wins over the other comes down to minimal differences. Here they are:
- Size and portability: activity centers (exersaucers) are generally smaller than jumpers and are easier to fold and transport.
- Fun and Energy Expanding: the jumper generally offers more bounce and babies seem to have a bit more fun in them, when bouncing factor is considered. Many parents insist that all the bouncing tires out their babies and ensures longer, restful sleep.
So, each comes with certain advantages.
Parents of a child with Down’s Syndrome researched which would be better for son: a jumper or activity center/exersaucer? They ultimately decided on an exersaucer for the following reasons:
- Supportive Chair: their child has hypotonia or low muscle tone. The exersaucer offered better upper body support.
- Selection of Activities: the exersaucer offered a greater range of sensory stimulation. Their physical therapist demonstrated how their baby responded to noise and lights. They liked how exersaucers offered more such toys and how their baby did not bore of them.
- Stimulating Toys: the exersaucer’s other toys were stimulating, too, and continued to entertain their baby.
This last section was added with hopes that it might help other special needs parents. It was also added to show that each family is different and that every parent might consider one or certain factors more important than others for their baby. Think about what factors are important for you and you’ll make the right choice. And, again, always consult you’re your pediatrician.