Parents expecting their first bundle of joy are usually eager to outfit their home with all of the furniture and equipment their baby will need from the moment they learn about the pregnancy. Cribs, changing tables and bassinets are pretty easy to figure out, even for mums and dads without previous “experience” as these are things that the baby will need from birth. It gets confusing for first-timers, however, when trying to sort through the endless selection of baby bouncers, baby chairs and seats, baby swings, baby jumpers, and baby rockers on the market. Are they actually different – and which are really necessary and would provide most help to new parents?
In a nutshell, swings and rockers are great for soothing babies or putting them down for short naps; swings are usually powered (either from mains or batteries) while rockers are normally powered manually. Most baby chairs are stationary (with many able to vibrate gently). Bouncers, however, are primarily designed to safely hold and entertain infants, while jumpers are suited to older infants (6 months+) who are able to hold their heads up on their own. The terms are sometimes (incorrectly) used interchangeably, adding to the possible confusion.
Parents may not want to overwhelm their house with a full complement of baby rockers, swings, chairs and seats, but these are practically “must-have” features for any nursery or living area. The best baby bouncer can be moved from room to room and is the perfect resting spot for a newborn when mum needs her hands free for doing a quick tidy up, getting something to eat or making a stop in the loo. In later months, it will also satisfy an infant’s desire for movement and both visual and auditory stimulation. It will even lull many to sleep for a quick nap. Once a baby is older, a jumper is a great way to keep him or her active and entertained. New parents may not realize how much of a help these types of baby equipment are but it’s really like having another pair of hands around the house to hold the baby while they tend to other things around the house.
Continue to read on because later in this article, we’ll get to our detailed baby bouncer reviews. First, though, let’s consider the criteria we used to evaluate our top ten.
Top 10 Best Baby Bouncer Comparison Table
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Full Buying Guide
There are many styles of baby bouncers and jumpers. Some are quite inexpensive, simply made from padded fabric and wire frames (with safety restraints, of course). Higher-level models will cost more, but are rather elaborate with toys, flashing lights, different levels of vibration and even a number of musical selections to engage the infant.
No-frills rockers are primarily suited for very young infants because all they do is bounce up and down, either responding to the baby’s movements or a light touch from a parent’s foot. Fancier models are designed to provide most of the visual and auditory stimulation a growing infant needs, but still give them the physical experience of bouncing that they crave, while building their muscles so they’re ready to crawl. Most standard models are recommended for infants from ages 0-6 months (and weights up to the 12 kg range), although a few more solidly-built and larger models can convert to an upright position to accommodate young toddlers as well. Jumpers shouldn’t be used until a child is six months old.
The first thing we look at when evaluating a jumper is its construction. Whether it’s made from thick wire, metal tubes, plastic or wood, a it must of course be sturdy and reliable, with sufficient padding to protect a young infant from irritation as well as the slight impact while still giving the baby free reign to bounce up and down. It should be designed to properly support the baby’s spine, and should also sit low to the ground so it can’t accidentally tip over. For safety, the bouncy chair should have at least a three-point harness to secure the infant, while a five-point restraint that also straps over the baby’s shoulders is even better. The same general guidelines hold true for jumpers.
We next look at the product’s features. Movement is key among them; a smooth up-and-down motion with good spring is crucial for all infant models, while more expensive options that rock from side to side, spin or vibrate should have subtle-enough movement so the infant won’t be jarred or startled. We find that vibration is a welcome feature on powered models, because they can then do double-duty as comfortable and soothing baby chairs.
Most quality models come with detachable “play bars” that have small, colourful stuffed animals or other safe accessories dangling in the infant’s field of vision. We like models that have the play bar situated low enough that babies can reach for them, kick them or bat them once they are old enough to do so. You’ll find upper-level ones with gentle and pleasing light shows, a built-in selection of nature sounds, tunes and lullabies (some will be activated by the baby’s bouncing), and even the capacity to play music from your phone or MP3 player. Jumpers add more interactive activity to the mix and let your child explore and develop motor skills; some even let your child spin around as he or she plays.
There are also convenience factors to consider. Get one that has a seat cover that’s easy to remove and wash, without nooks and crannies where baby’s spit-up (or worse) can accumulate. When buying a powered model, think about whether you want to be changing batteries continually or whether one that runs on mains electricity will be a better choice. And although almost all baby rockers will be lightweight, you’ll still want to check that the one you choose will be easy to move between rooms. Most parents find they never fold up their baby bouncers once in use, but if you have very little floor space or plan to travel with it on say a visit to the grandparents’ home, a foldable model can come in handy.
Our Top Ten Baby Bouncer Reviews
1. Fisher-Price Roaring Rainforest Jumperoo
This model is the ultimate jumper once a baby’s old enough to sit in it with his feet touching the floor. There are 12 adorable rainforest-themed accessories situated around the outside (and overhead), and an infant or toddler is able to spin completely around to reach and play with all of them. There are battery-powered lights, music and sounds activated during the child’s jumping or play, the Jumperoo’s movement is smooth but not overwhelming, and most importantly, it’s built with the quality you’d expect from this brand. The free-standing steel frame is sturdy, the seat pad is soft but easily washable, and all of the toys are designed for safety with safety covers over all of the springs and connectors. The jumper is adjustable to three positions and foldable, and the bright colours and full interactivity will keep children entertained, stimulated and happy for a long, long time. It’s a brilliant piece of baby activity furniture.
2. Ingenuity Cozy Kingdom Swing 60194
Combining the shape of a rocker with the functionality of a baby swing, this Ingenuity model will help your baby relax, swing, play or snooze in comfort. Young children (and manufacturers) love jungle motifs, and the subtle look of the Cozy Kingdom will keep your baby soothed but also engaged as she grows. There are six swing speeds with an auto-timer, a recline feature with two positions, and a foam toy bar with two plushies within reach. Six included tunes can play as baby relaxes. This model is solid and nicely-built with a removable headrest and a comfy seat, the cushion comes off easy for washing and the swing folds up easily. It runs on batteries.
3. BABYBJÖRN Balance Soft (Black/Dark Grey, Cotton)
If you’re looking for a rocker without frills, you won’t find a better one. The Swedish-made BABYBJÖRN is revered around the world for its round, soft, supportive and ergonomic design; it’s minimalist in appearance but babies simply love it. There is no power supplied to this one, as it’s been created to encourage infants to learn to bounce by themselves (although mum can certainly help at first). There are four adjustable positions (play, rest, sleep and folded), it’s easy to clean, and it’s been precisely created for perfect comfort and gentle bouncing. Don’t expect hangers, music or other add-ons – this is simply manually powered, and an absolutely terrific one. It’s perfect for travel too as it’s very lightweight!
4. The Original Jolly Jumper Baby Exerciser With Door Clamp
Some parents fear jumpers that attatch to door frames. They shouldn’t, if the products are as well-manufactured as the Jolly Jumper. It’s suitable for babies who can hold their heads upright (around three months) and holds a maximum weight of 13 kg, and it has been designed to provide perfect spine support while encouraging proper bone growth, coordination and posture. The Jolly Jumper is easy to assemble and hang from most door frames (but make sure to read the installation manual), the spring and assembly are solid and safe as is the click-in safety belt, and you can adjust its height as baby grows taller. It’s a great way to get baby important and fun exercise with a unit that can be put up and taken down in a flash.
5. Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo
This is the older version of the Roaring Rainforest Jumperoo, but it’s still a terrific new addition to any home with a 6-12 month old baby. The features and benefits are almost exactly the same, as are the outstanding manufacturing and safety features. It’s a bit smaller and heavier than the newer model and has a larger footprint, doesn’t fold quite as easily, and has hanging frogs and parrots instead of monkeys. Those are small differences though; either Jumperoo will be appreciated by your growing young one and you should be fully satisfied no matter which one you choose.
6. BABYBJÖRN Balance Soft (Silver/White, Mesh)
In all honesty, this is basically the same fabulous rocker as the BABYBJÖRN we’ve reviewed earlier, except for its colour and fabric – and we heartily recommend each of them for any family. The Swedish design of the BABYBJÖRN provides an extra, modern design element to any home so the black-and-grey model we’ve already discussed may fit better in one décor while the silver-and-white one could be the right choice for a different design. The mesh vs. cotton choice is a little tougher, as the mesh provides more breathability so it’s slightly more comfortable for baby, but it has a surface that’s a bit rougher. The cotton is “hotter” but doesn’t tend to attract lint, so it’s easier to clean. Which is right for you? That’s your call, but the BABYBJÖRN should be at or near the top of your list.
7. Baby Einstein Neighbourhood Friends Activity Jumper
Baby Einstein, of course, is well-known for its family of educational products. The Neighbourhood Friends jumper fits perfectly into that niche, with thoughtfully-designed accessories located around the unit which add a new dimension to an infant’s stimulation and development. They include a light-up electronic piano that when activated plays notes, classical music and letters, and a wide selection of richly-tactile exploratory trinkets which surpass those on the Jumperoos. The five height settings are nice, too, as is the fact that the Baby Einstein folds a little more easily. It does have a wider footprint, however, and while it’s definitely solid the construction isn’t quite as strong as the other products you’ve read on this list. They’re both excellent; we’d take this one for “content” and the Jumperoo for strength.
8. Fisher-Price Rainforest Spacesaver Jumperoo
This is the third Jumperoo in our listings, and as with the second, we’ll focus mainly on the differences between them because they’re all great products with similar positives. Obviously, from its name, the Spacesaver is smaller – but not by much, about 10 cm or so in width. Where “smaller” comes into play is in the play area where there are only six accessories (none hanging) and when the jumper is folded (to create a smaller footprint). The padding is also thinner, the jump isn’t as strong ), and it doesn’t rotate 360°. On the bright side there are four height settings instead of three. If space is really at a premium for you the Spacesaver could be the right choice, but otherwise we’d go with one of the other options offered by the same brand.
9. Comfort and Harmony Cradling in Cozy Kingdom
This one is at a slightly-lower level than the models we’ve looked at so far, but it’s still quite nice. The padding is ultra-plush, there’s a footrest as well as a removable headrest, and while the frame isn’t outstanding it’s still sturdy enough to provide a safe haven for your baby. The bouncing is produced manually but battery-power adds a vibrate function (with automatic shut-off) as well a small selection of melodies. There’s a removable bar with two plushies. The big drawback is the design of the headrest, which may not provide enough some support for newborns’ heads; this is a better model for slightly older infants. The weight limit is also lower than most competitors, closer to 9 kg than 12 or 13. Good, not great.
10. Bright Starts Up Up and Away
Here’s our budget choice, and it’s a good value. Like the previous one, the Up Up and Away isn’t as sturdy or durable as the ones made by more popular brands but it’s strong and safe enough to prevent concerns, and it bounces manually but has a battery-powered vibration function. The toy bar hangs a little lower than we’d like; however, this is a comfortable and easy-to-clean rocker that’s quite functional and worth every penny.
Time to Make a Choice
As you progress through your pregnancy, a rocker or jumper may not be the first baby accessory that comes to mind, but trust us. You’ll want and need one the moment you give birth. Choosing the best baby bouncer won’t put an enormous dent on your credit card bill, but just watching your infant or toddler go to town while getting the stimulation he or she needs will make you glad that you didn’t wait to see if one of these was really necessary. And having a safe place for baby to chill out so you can be free to take a breather even for a few minutes will make the decision seem even smarter.
Reading baby bouncer reviews should give you the information you need to pick the product that fits into your available space, while giving you the peace of mind you need when shopping for the most precious member of your family.