Are Baby Bouncers Safe For Newborns

Bouncers and baby swings can be a safe place for your newborn to rest. 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 or swing for short periods under supervision.

Bouncers are safe for newborns, as long as the baby is properly buckled up and resting against the seat’s back. Young babies should never be placed in a bouncer for more than an hour at a time.

As long as your baby’s back is supported and she can’t roll over on her stomach, it’s safe for her and okay for you to leave her in a bouncer for short periods at a time. Make sure the straps are securely holding her in place and that her head isn’t lolling to one side (or she might choke), and never leave your baby unattended in a bouncer.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against the use of any product that doesn’t give full head and neck support for babies younger than four months. Baby bouncers generally do offer full head and neck support because they’re designed to be seated upright, but make sure your bouncer has a safety belt to secure your baby’s body.

Baby bouncers are safe for newborns, even though the chair is designed for when your baby has better control of their neck. Rings and swings are similar in design to a bouncer, but offer limited support for the legs and head position.

Although baby bouncers are designed to only be used for short periods of time, they are some of the safest toddler seats available. The Fisher-Price Deluxe Bouncer is the ideal choice for a newborn or infant because it has an insert that supports their head and neck. This can easily be removed as baby grows. The seat also reclines and securely straps in baby, has gentle bouncing action and vibrations, and includes calming music and sounds.

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

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:

How Long Can A Newborn Stay In A Bouncer?

If you do use a baby walker, bouncer or seat, it’s best to use them for no more than 20 minutes at a time.

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.

Starting age

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.

Safety note

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.

Risks of jumpers and bouncers

Bouncers

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.

Jumpers

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.

Ending age

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.

At this point, there’s the risk that your baby could tip the bouncer over as they sit up or roll over 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.

Other considerations

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.

Benefits of bouncers and jumpers

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.https://58f759ec1e34b992368bcc99f80a9b0e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The takeaway

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.

How to Spot Autism Masking in Kids — And What to Do About It

When autistic kids feel like they have to act differently to fit in, their mental health suffers.

By Rachel Crowell Mar 28 2022, 5:32 PM 

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty

Feeling like you must hide a major part of yourself can be exhausting, frustrating, and demoralizing. But many autistic people report regularly feeling the need to mask (or “camouflage”), purposefully adopting “neurotypical” behaviors to blend in and avoid discrimination or other mistreatment.ADVERTISEMENT

What Is Autism Masking and Why It Matters

To some, camouflaging to fit in might not sound like such a bad thing. It may even sound similar to the process that many non-autistic kids go through as they grow up and find their way. Historically, some parents have even encouraged their autistic kids to avoid stimming in public or hyperfocusing on their special interests to fit in and avoid bullying, discrimination, and stigma that targets autistic people.

In fact, in 2016, Spectrum reported on controversy surrounding “applied behavioral analysis, or ABA, the longest-standing and best-established form of therapy for children with autism.” The approach has drawn criticism for being “based on a cruel premise — of trying to make people with autism ‘normal,’ a goal articulated in the 1960s by psychologist Ole Ivar Lovaas, who developed ABA for autism,” author Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn wrote.ADVERTISEMENT

But when autistic people feel as if they must constantly hide key parts of themselves, research suggests it takes a toll.

“In adults, we’ve seen that higher levels of camouflaging are associated with greater levels of depression and anxiety, both general anxiety and social anxiety,” says Laura Hull, Ph.D., an early career fellow who researches autism at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. There are also connections to burnout and exhaustion. “One study has shown that higher camouflaging is a predictor of higher levels of suicidal thoughts and ideas,” she says. This social survival strategy is linked to “a whole kind of range of different negative mental health outcomes.” 

Researchers have only recently begun to study masking in autistic people, Hull says. So far, it’s only been done in adults. “We don’t yet know the consequences of camouflaging or masking for children and young people,” she notes. However, some of the autistic adults who have participated in Hull’s research have described their experiences with masking, both as adults and earlier in their lives. ADVERTISEMENT

Masking can involve many different types of behavior. “The classic one would be forcing yourself to make eye contact with other people” when you talk with them to meet other peoples’ expectations, “even if you’re someone who finds it very uncomfortable,” Hull says. 

Many autistic women have described engaging in masking by imitating other people, although this form of camouflage can be used by people of other genders too, Hull notes. “When they were younger, if they felt like they weren’t being accepted by other children at school, they would identify a girl who was popular or seemed to have a lot of friends,” she says. They then “would mimic the way that she talked or dressed or her interests” in an effort to “seem more socially successful, even if that actually meant hiding their own interests or their own natural behaviors.”

For instance, a child might have a special interest in learning about whales and discussing them any chance they get. But when they realize their peers are more focused on talking about pop music, they might quit sharing giddiness about gray whales and instead talk about musicians that they don’t care much about. Another kid might really enjoy dressing in comfortable or eclectic clothes, but after getting teased or alienated for how they dress, cast aside their unique way of dressing and start wearing what’s trendy.ADVERTISEMENT

Parents Can Push Masking Without Knowing It

Some autistic people also try to stem their “stims” — repetitive behaviors (such as flapping their hands, twirling something in their hands, or vocalizing) that help them self-regulate. This is often due to pressure from family or teachers who encourage kids “not to stim or not to react to the sensory environment, because it looks different or it looks weird,” Hull says. But taking away that coping mechanism — or replacing it with a more socially palatable one — doesn’t get rid of the overwhelming sensation that the child is responding to. It just gets rid of their way of dealing with it.

Since research on masking is still so new, there aren’t clear cut signs to watch for that your kid might be masking, whether you know they’re autistic or think they might be. However, Hull finds it “quite interesting” that many adults said they masked less after their autism was identified. Having a formal identification of their neurodivergence provided an “explanation for why they were different” and why they were compelled to mask in the first place, she says. For many, this led to hanging out with other autistic people or non-autistic folks who are accepting of autistic people and behaviors that they would otherwise mask. ADVERTISEMENT

It’s unclear whether children and teens would be similarly impacted by knowing they’re autistic. But one thing is clear: Having safe spaces to unmask at home and school can be critical to the mental health and well-being of autistic people. 

How to Help a Kid Who’s Masking Autism

If you notice that your autistic (or presumed to be autistic) kid seems to be changing their behavior in a way that seems like masking, it’s worth trying to talk to them about what’s motivating the changes you’re seeing. One thing that might tip you off is if the changes “don’t feel true or genuine,” Hull says. 

“We don’t want to pathologize the sort of identity changes that pretty much all kids have,” she says. But being secure in those changes “is about feeling accepted and feeling like you’re being genuine when you do that,” she adds. 

Since little research has been done on masking in autistic children, it can be difficult to know how to respond if you recognize that your child is doing it. It may help to let your child know that you understand why they feel pressure to mask and that many people feel as if they must hide parts of themselves at one point or another, but that it’s important to also make sure they’re giving themselves time and space to be themselves when they feel comfortable.ADVERTISEMENT

It may also help to brainstorm with them how to respond to adults who ask them to mask in a way they’re not comfortable with, such as making sustained eye contact. You could also help them make a plan for what to do if they need to stim while in public but don’t want to do so in front of others and ways they might talk about their neurodivergence with others. It might be important to ask them if they want help deciding how much to unmask in front of certain friends and other peers. Finally, you could even decide on a code phrase that they can say to you if they’re in an overwhelming social situation and need you to help them find a way to take a break or leave.More Stuff You’ll Love:

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