Baby rockers, bouncers and swings fall under ‘non-essential baby items’, so you may have ignored these whilst considering essentials for your baby. They do assist in several key development areas however, and can provide a secure and stimulating environment for your baby whilst you get on with other tasks, giving you greater peace of mind. In this short overview, we look at your various baby chair options and their pros, cons and costs.
Rockers are an excellent choice for young babies who are 0-6 months. The chair has a curved base, making it easy to rock back and forth, great for calming or sending baby to sleep. The motion of rocking soothes your baby because it resembles the same sensation they felt whilst still inside your womb. While you walked, your baby rocked gently inside of you, which is why they find this type of chair so calming.
A typical rocker will also be brightly coloured, and can have a variety of different features such as a vibration setting or music player, which will complement the rocking motion to get your baby to sleep. Most models also come with toy bars, stimulating your baby mentally as they sit and play. Baby rockers also tend to be reclineable so your baby will be comforted while you work or take a break.
These chairs and rockers in general also have developmental benefits for your baby. The motion of rocking helps to organise a new-borns vestibular system, which controls balance, important for your baby’s eventual first steps.
Baby rockers have few disadvantages. Your baby might get used to the rocking motion and may acquire the habit of needing to be rocked before bedtime, which poses a problem when your baby grows out of the chair!
Price Range: £60 – £150
Baby swings (suitable for 0-6 month olds) like rockers also calm babies, utilising a rocking motion to soothe and comfort. The main difference between the two is that swings are either battery powered or have a wind up mechanism, so you do not need to be present to rock your baby. Most swings also let you control the speed and duration of the swinging.
Like rockers, baby swings are very colourful and usually come with a toy bar with lots of things baby can hit and squeeze, they may also feature a similar vibration settings or musical sounds.
Battery powered swings can cause inconveniences if the batteries run out of power so try to buy some rechargeable batteries which will save you money in the long term. Wind-up swings also need winding regularly and you may tire of going back and forth if baby gets impatient.
The biggest issue with a swing is the danger of potential injury if not put together properly; a manual should always be consulted during assembly. It is also advised that you stop using baby swings once the baby can sit up on his own to avoid any mishaps.
Price Range: £65 – £170
There are several different models of baby bouncer to consider, all aimed at different age groups.
Standard Baby Bouncer
For the young baby (0-6 months): This closely resembles the rocker in chair shape, but the legs are not curved, being straight instead. The legs are flexible and allow the chair to be ‘bounced,’ similar to the rocking motion found on the above products. Certain bouncer models have toy bars to entertain and stimulate your baby. Many of these chairs can be easily soiled because of the fabrics used, meaning you may have to clean and wash it regularly.
A doorway bouncer could be the best option for you if you have an active baby that can support their head unaided (usually between 3-9 months). This bouncer is essentially a seat suspended between a doorway and allows your baby to sit inside the secure harness and can bounce safely. Your baby will receive plenty of leg strengthening exercise from this bouncer, and will have a newfound independence they will enjoy. Different models boast a number of toys and rattles that will surround baby in a circle, offering plenty of opportunities for stimulation and play.
It is important to avoid injury that you follow any advised weight restrictions. Try to check your baby’s weight regularly and look for signs that they are out growing the bouncer e.g. sitting up.
Baby Bouncer Walker
Suitable for babies that can sit up unaided (3-9 months): This bouncy entertainer is a circle of toys, buttons and rattles. Your baby stands in the middle supported by a seat so they can keep on standing. Not only is a bouncer walker great exercise, but it also offers excellent stimulation. It is a good idea to buy a stationary one as opposed to one with wheels, although most models are designed to be too wide for doorways and corridors, meaning baby cannot go anywhere unsupervised.
Price Range: £13 – £170
Important Safety Tips and Advice
It is important to remember that you should supervise your baby at all times while using the above products. Not only will this allow you to check on what they are doing, but it also provides them with comfort and security. Bouncers, rockers and swings also have a limited life and your baby will grow out of them quickly. To avoid injury, it is best to check your baby’s weight is compliant with the recommended weight restrictions on the product.
It is not recommended that you use these chairs on elevated surfaces; a flat, dry surface is best such as your bedroom or living room floor. Be careful when attaching your own toys to any supplied tool bars; there have been some incidences where fatalities have occurred.
Finally, all of these bouncers, rockers and swings are fantastic, offering a host of developmental and personal benefits, but they should not be used as baby sitters, and cannot replace the essential interaction you need to provide to your child to help them grow and learn.