Remember those well-meaning relatives that told you that having a baby was a breeze, because all they do all day is sleep, eat, and need changed?
That might be true for a while, but after the first month (or sooner), babies start to need some more entertainment, and they can be quite demanding!
They need lots of snuggles and age-appropriate play and interaction from you, of course, but you can’t possibly hold them every minute of the day!
That’s where all of your options come in: from swings, to rockers, to walkers, to bouncers, it’s not always obvious to know which is which, when to use them, and which ones your baby actually needs.
Let’s take a look at two popular options: Baby walkers vs bouncers.
The main difference between walkers and bouncers is that walkers are mobile play stations that babies sit up in and move around via wheels on the bottom, while baby bouncers are stationary and babies lay in a slightly elevated position.
Pediatricians do NOT recommend the use of baby walkers as they can be extremely dangerous without proper supervision — you can still buy them in the United States but it’s generally not advised.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros, cons, and uses of walkers and bouncers.
Baby Walkers Explained
Baby walkers are structures designed for babies to either sit in, or grab freely, to walk with.
It gives them stability, support, and protection as they move around at will on the wheels of the walker.
The sitting-in kind usually has a plastic tray around a cloth seat where your baby can sit.
Most of the time, the plastic tray has an array of fun and entertaining toys attached to it that are colorful, interactive, and noisemaking.
A favorite baby tray toy is the toy mirror!
Walkers are intended for use when babies start moving a little more, at least after 6 months old.
By this time, they can sit up all on their own, making playtime sitting much more fun.
They may have even started using their legs a lot more, which helps get the walker moving.
It may be helpful to know, though, that baby walkers are not recommended by medical professionals.
In fact, the sale of baby walkers has been banned in Canada, but they are still freely sold in the United States.
Why are baby walkers considered bad for babies?
Babies in walkers need to be watched — carefully! — and sometimes parents are not aware of how mobile a baby can get in a walker.
Because they are in a walker, some parents let down their guard a little and do not watch their baby as carefully as they should.
Unfortunately, between about a 15 year timespan, almost a quarter of a million babies were treated in US emergency rooms for walker-related injuries.
So, baby walkers are not generally considered a safe choice for babies.
If you want something to reign your baby in while they play, try a stationary play station or an activity table, which has all the fixings of a walker, but does not go anywhere.
Pros & Cons of Baby Walkers
- They are entertaining for babies. A rolling play station that has toys that make noise and enrich your baby’s mind. What’s not to love?
- They allow some mobility. Babies that have not previously learned to move around much might get a kick out of walking around for the first time. And babies that can move around might be frustrated being stuck in a stationary play station.
- They are not recommended by medical professionals. In the past, there have been way too many baby injuries and even deaths caused in part by baby walkers. They are not banned in the US, so use with extreme caution if you purchase one.
- They don’t actually help a baby learn to walk. This is a commonly believed myth about baby walkers. Babies learn more about walking by learning balance and by learning to pull up on things, like your legs or the sofa.
Baby Bouncers Explained
Baby bouncers are an amazing invention.
The basic ones offer a very simple design: a stand, usually wire, shaped into an L when looking at it from the side, elevated at about 45 degrees or lower.
A cloth “hammock” sits between the wire gap, where your baby gets strapped in and lounges at a slightly incline.
Young babies can usually stay happy in a bouncer for quite a while if they have toys to play with and you keep them moving!
When the baby inside the bouncer kicks or throws baby punches, the chair “bounces” just slightly.
You can also tap it with your foot to help her settle down or go to sleep, a great activity to do while you are visiting with friends or watching television!
A baby bouncer usually has no bells and whistles; it’s just a place for your baby to lay in an elevated position.
Sometimes there is a tray installed, or some sort of dangling toy set up above the seat for your baby’s entertainment.
You can use a baby bouncer as soon as your baby is born, but you might need to put in some extra blankets first or use a newborn insert.
Babies usually outgrow them at about 6 months, so they do not last you a long time.
However, they are usually a cheaper option when it comes to things that hold your baby for you.
They are also extremely portable, with some even folding completely down flat for transportation.
Pros and Cons of Baby Bouncers
- They are safe. Baby bouncers are not banned anywhere, unlike walkers. As long as you have them on a sturdy surface, preferably the ground, and they are not old enough to wiggle out — or you buckle them in properly, there is no danger to your baby (however, you still need to supervise them).
- They are easy to use. Baby bouncer setup is quickly done, and all you need to do is buckle your baby into it.
- They are stationary. Bouncers do not move around like walkers do, so your baby has a safe place to lounge.
- You can move them easily. Bouncers are light and small, so you can move it around the house easily, even while your baby is still in it.
- Babies outgrow them quickly. By the time your baby is around 6 months old, he will be able to wiggle and push around. A baby bouncer is most suitable for babies who are more stationary. You have to consider if the bouncer supports your baby’s weight, too.
- Some extra attention may be necessary. If your baby is very young, you may have to move the bouncer for your baby, so he can experience the bouncing effect. This is not true for baby rockers.
Baby walkers are controversial for good reason: mostly because they make babies more mobile than parents are used to. Bouncers are stationary and therefore safer for use for small babies.
While baby bouncers are not as dangerous, whatever your baby is in, you need to watch them all the time, especially during mobile developmental milestones and if there are other small children or pets in the house.
You just never know what could happen.
Don’t let the fact that your child is strapped into something make you less vigilant.
As long as you have eyes on your stationary baby, though, feel free to fit in that workout, cook that meal, or just enjoy a peaceful cup of coffee!
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Hope this helps!