Play equipment for babies and toddlers Baby bouncers
Baby bouncers can be used from about four months of age – as soon as your baby can support his or her head.
Your baby sits in a special seat that's attached to a long elasticated strip (the top of which is clamped to the door frame), pushes against the floor with his or her feet, and bounces up and down.
The bouncing sensation from a baby bouncer can delight babies – and be hilarious to watch – and this will probably be the first time your baby has felt the thrill of being able to move fast using his or her own leg muscles.
However, even babies who love bouncers may tire of them after 10 minutes or so, and you should keep sessions fairly brief – 15 minutes is fine; 30 minutes the absolute limit.
Types of baby bouncer
There are two main types of door-mounted baby bouncers – those with a simple fabric seat, or bouncers with a moulded plastic surround seat, sometimes in the shape of a cartoon character or animal.
For younger babies not yet able to sit up, you can buy seated baby bouncers or rockers, which – rather than being attached to the door frame – lightly bounce while your baby kicks and moves around.
Not all babies will enjoy bouncing, so it may be worth borrowing a baby bouncer to try out before you buy.
Fabric seat baby bouncers
Soft baby bouncers are available from brands including Tippitoes, Lindam and Mothercare. Typical prices start at around £20-£25.
- Smaller seat gives a bit more freedom for your baby to move and flail arms about.
- Lightweight and easy to fold and store.
- Usually cheaper than plastic baby bouncers.
- Provides less protection against knocks and may make your baby feel more vulnerable.
Plastic seat baby bouncers
Plastic seated baby bouncers are a more sturdy alternative to fabric door bouncers, and are available at stores including Mothercare, Babies 'R' Us and Argos. Prices start at around £25-£30.
- Provides protection against bumps on the door frame.
- Wipes clean.
- Can be more constricting than the fabric type (and therefore possibly less fun for your baby).
- Takes up space both to use and to store.
Seated baby bouncers
A seated baby bouncer allows younger babies to create a bouncing, rocking motion while sitting, with many models suitable from birth. On some bouncers your baby's kicking and movement is rewarded with music, lights and stimulating noises. Prices start at around £20 for a basic model.
- Usually suitable from birth.
- Certain baby bouncers reward baby movement with noise and lights.
- Movement more restricted than using a door-mounted baby bouncer.
- Only suitable up to 9kg, or when your baby can sit up unaided.
Baby bouncer safety tips
Whichever type of baby bouncer you choose, make sure your door frames and doorways are suitable for the bouncer. The frame must be sturdy and solid as it will need to take the weight of your baby.
It should also be perfectly straight and the gap between the frame and the wall should be wide enough for the clamp to fit on to it properly.
Narrow doorways aren't particularly suitable for bouncer use because your baby will bounce sideways as well as up and down, so he or she could knock against the frame. Ensure the bouncer doesn't slide sideways as the baby is using it.
Look for the BS EN 14036:2003 safety mark on the baby bouncer you buy, indicating the product complies with the appropriate safety standards.