Bouncers can be used right away and because babies are securely strapped in, and the seat usually extends past their heads with full neck support, even a newborn can be placed in a bouncer for short periods under supervision.
Parents often ask us if baby bouncers are safe for newborns. It’s a logical question, as newborns are especially prone to wobbly heads. Babies are securely strapped in, and the seat usually extends past their heads with full neck support, so even newborns can be placed in a bouncer for short periods under supervision. However, keep your newborn in a baby bouncer no more than 15 minutes at a time. And never use it as you would a baby swing or highchair.
If your baby is one of those who prefers to sleep in a vertical position, or likes to be able to look around while reclined, bouncers can be really handy. Because babies are securely strapped in, and the seat usually extends past their heads with full neck support, even a newborn
But most newborns do not have strong enough head and neck control for extended periods in baby bouncers. Babies are often insecure or scared when first placed in bouncers, and some even cry until they get used to the feeling of being constantly moved. They also should never be placed sideways in a bouncer, as this position can put pressure on their spine.
Though each manufacturer may have different guidelines for when it is safe to use, most bouncers can be used between the age of 0 – 6 months old. Placing your baby in a bouncer ensures that they are safely secured and lower to the ground than if they were being held in someone’s arms. Most bouncers come with straps that secure the waist, preventing the baby from inadvertently sliding out. As long as the age guidelines are followed, using a bouncer is safe for newborns.
Baby bouncers may look like they are unsafe because they are not enclosed and your baby won’t be strapped in. However, the seat is a snug fit for baby and the sides of it are deep enough to provide support if a young child dozes off in it.
Ask many parents of babies about must-haves, and you’ll probably find that one of their essential items is a jumper or bouncer. These can help keep little ones occupied so moms and dads can catch their breath between tummy time, diaper changes, and feedings.
But how familiar are you with the safety recommendations around jumpers and bouncers? And more importantly, do you know why some pediatric experts don’t always recommend using them?
Here’s what to know, including how long to wait before starting your baby on a jumper or bouncer.
Why Are Bouncers Bad for Babies?
It all starts with the angle. A lot of baby bouncers and swings position the infant between 30 and 45 degrees from vertical, which isn’t good for newborns. The younger babies are, the less resting muscle tone they have, which means a greater risk of their heads flopping forward and obstructing their airway (this is why you lay your infant flat on their back when they sleep).
The straps can also pose a problem. Entanglement is a threat pediatricians take seriously. Sleeping in a bouncer or swing simply isn’t as safe as sleeping on a firm, properly fitting mattress with minimal bedding. Still, things aren’t always cut and dry.ADVERTISEMENT
Can a Baby Sleep in a Swing?
“The first law of pediatrics is you don’t wake a sleeping baby,” says Dr. Ben Hoffman, Oregon Health and Sciences University pediatrician and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention. “I would never advocate waking a sleeping baby, but if the baby is sleeping in a bouncy chair or a swing, somebody needs to be paying attention to them. Those are not safe ways for babies to sleep unattended.”
How to Safely Use a Stand-Alone Swing or Newborn Baby Bouncer
- Always supervise a baby using a swing or a bouncer.
- Do not carry the bouncer. Swings and newborn bouncers belong on the floor.
- Keep straps snug, but make sure they don’t restrict the baby’s airway. Think about car seat best practices.
- Don’t exceed weight limits. If the baby can sit up unaided, then the baby bouncer or swing is no longer safe.
So as long as an adult can supervise and intervene if the baby’s head flops too far forward, and ensures that the straps are snug and not in danger of compromising the baby’s breathing, the risks posed by a baby swing are minimized. Still, it’s not a good option for feeding. “Believe it or not, gastroesophageal reflux is worse sitting at that angle than it is lying flat,” says Hoffman. “That runs counter to a lot of people’s belief, but that’s what the science tells us.”ADVERTISEMENT
A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics identifies falls due to baby swings or bouncers as a significant cause of ER visits for babies, either from kids squirming out on their own or from parents and caregivers dropping them as they transfer surfaces. If an infant has developed the ability to sit up on their own, or exceeds the maximum weight limit, it’s time to stop using the device. And parents should only use a newborn swing or bouncer on the floor – not counters, not couches, not tables – and should never carry the bouncer or swing with the baby in it.
Despite the risks and necessary precautions, bouncers and swings do have benefits, as long as babies are supervised. They can be very entertaining soothing. A supervised baby in a newborn bouncer is probably better off there than napping with dad on the couch. There’s no reason to be afraid of swings or bouncers, but every reason to be diligent.More Stuff You’ll Love:
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What Age Can a Baby Go in a Bouncer Chair
aby bouncers and newborn baby swings are free-standing, elevated seats that let an infant sit at a semi-reclined angle. They’re basically baby pedestals that make it easier for adults and siblings to interact with the baby. They can have a calming effect too, soothing a fussy baby , or even putting them to sleep. But when these newborn swings are used incorrectly, they can be dangerous — and unsafe usage of baby bouncers is widespread.
While jumpers and bouncers are great for giving parents a break, they’re not always an item that you can use the minute you bring your baby home from the hospital.
A bouncer for your newborn
Baby bouncers have angled seats that usually are designed with a stationary frame and include restraints to ensure that your baby is safely situated in the seat.
Either through the baby’s motions or power — typically via battery or a power outlet — it gently rocks your baby and works as a soothing mechanism.
Because babies are securely strapped in, and the seat usually extends past their heads with full neck support, even a newborn can be placed in a bouncer for short periods under supervision.
Sleep positioners and wedges are not recommended while feeding or sleeping. These padded risers are intended to keep your baby’s head and body in one position, but are not recommended by the Food and Drug AdministrationTrusted Source due to the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Jumpers for older babies
By definition, a jumper is designed for a much more active baby who has met specific milestones before you start using it.
Even though jumpers typically feature padded seats and sometimes come with a sturdy frame if they’re freestanding models, they’re designed without neck support. This gives your baby a bit more freedom to do as the name suggests — jump.
Before you set up a jumper, make sure your baby has mastered neck control and no longer needs assistance to keep their head up. This usually happens around 6 months of age, but it can occur sooner or later depending on your baby’s developmental timeline.
Parents often use a bouncer as a space for letting their little ones snooze, but pediatricians and medical experts highly discourage this. The angled position can potentially contribute to SIDS.
While these are considered safe from the get-go, that’s when they’re used properly. Always supervise your baby when they’re in a bouncer.
With jumpers, there are two risks at play. The first concern centers around mounted jumpers that must be attached somehow to a door frame or beam.
Because there are potential obstructions around the bouncer, a very active baby may accidentally hit their head, arms, or other body parts against the door frame.
The second concern is that any jumper seat — freestanding or mounted — can set the child’s hips in an awkward position, focusing exercise on the wrong leg muscles.
Parents who rely too heavily on a jumper to keep babies occupied may accidentally delay their motor development as babies learn to crawl and walk.
As such, experts usually recommend that you limit jumper sessions to 15 to 20 minutes and no more than two sessions per day.
All good things must come to an end. For bouncers, the general recommendation is that your baby has outgrown it once they’ve reached 20 pounds or can comfortably sit up on their own.
You can reduce these risks by buckling your baby in — which you should do regardless of age — but as your little one gets stronger, they may try to wrestle themselves out of the seat anyway.
In terms of maximum weight limits, always check the specific recommendations from the manufacturer, as weight thresholds vary.
With jumpers, you’ll need to check the weight limits and phase it out once your child reaches that limit. The weight limit can vary by manufacturer, but the most common upper range is usually between 25 and 33 pounds.
Beyond ensuring that your baby is developmentally ready or the right weight for a bouncer or jumper, you should also consider safety recalls.
Typically, if you’re buying a new bouncer or jumper from a reputable store or e-commerce platform, you can be reasonably confident that it meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
But if you’re inheriting or buying a secondhand item, always check that it’s not on any recall lists.
So what are the benefits of using a bouncer or jumper at the age-appropriate time? The obvious answer for parents is that it gives you a much-needed break.
No matter how much you love being with your bundle of joy, everyone deserves to sit down for 10 or 15 minutes without sharing their seat with their baby.
Many bouncers and jumpers also come with activity sets that help keep babies engaged. And specifically with bouncers, there are plenty of adjustable models that grow with your child, turning into traditional seats once they’ve outgrown the bouncer stage.
Giving little ones their own space to safely explore and grow — while you take a break from the frenzy that is parenting a baby — is good for both you and your child.
As long as you’re mindful of the necessary milestones for introducing or phasing out these baby gear options, there’s no reason to avoid integrating a bouncer or jumper into your baby’s routine.