How to buy the best baby bouncer for you
What’s the difference between a baby bouncer, a baby rocker and a baby swing and why should I buy one?
Baby bouncers are generally designed to keep babies entertained and stimulated with a gentle springy motion (created by a gentle foot nudge, the kick of your baby’s leg or a motor) whereas baby rockers and baby swings are intended to encourage your baby to snooze. Rockers and swings tend to be more expensive as they offer in-built technology such as speed and vibration settings. Each type of chair combines a supportive unit (think baby hammock) and a rhythmic motion to create a soothing environment for your baby. Baby bouncers, rockers and swings are all designed to mimic the gentle motions your baby would have experienced in the womb.
Rockers, typically, take up a lot of room and swings usually require batteries or a mains supply to work so it’s worth thinking about what you’re going to use your chair for before you commit to buying. Or go all out and buy one that combines a number of different functions.
What are the key features to look for in the best baby bouncer?
- The seat needs to support your baby without tipping over, so look for a wide base with a strong, durable frame.
- Baby bouncers can be very useful when travelling, so check whether it folds up easily.
- How does the baby bouncer recline? Basic models with metal frames simply require you to bend them, more expensive chairs have click-in settings. Which would you prefer?
- Check how easy the cover is to remove and whether or not it’s machine-washable. You will be grateful for this later.
- How many points does the safety harness have? The minimum you need is three – one between the legs and one on either side to keep your baby secure – but an extra two straps on the shoulders can give you peace of mind, especially when your baby starts practising The Plank and turns themselves diagonally.
- The important thing is the bounce, but consider other features, such as vibrating or musical functions, too. Most bouncers come with the option of adding toys for the baby to reach out and grab.
What do I need to know to use a baby bouncer safely?
- However tempting, do NOT leave the baby in the bouncer on a table, as a good leg thrash could propel them off. The bed’s just as dodgy – if he tips over, he could suffocate in the duvet. If you don’t like leaving them on the floor, consider a bouncer with a bit of height.
- Look for the BS EN14036:2003 safety mark on the bouncer to ensure it complies with up-to-date safety standards.
- Never leave your baby unsupervised while in the chair. You’d be amazed at what positions they can get themselves into.
- Check the maximum weight the chair can support and don’t exceed it. Also, check the distance from the floor so your baby doesn’t bang their bottom every time they bounce in it.
The best baby bouncers to buy
1. Fisher Price Woodsy Friends Comfy Time: Best baby bouncer under £50
If you’re looking for a cheap but sturdy chair that will last until your baby is at least six months, the latest version of this staple from Fisher-Price offers comfort, convenience and an ‘earthy’ colour scheme for under £50. With a musical owl that dangles by the baby’s hands and a vibration setting to help soothe them to sleep, this all-singing all-dancing chair proves that you can have all the bells and whistles without spending a fortune. It has a reassuringly wide base, ‘sticky’ feet (it doesn’t move across the floor) and offers sturdiness in the form of a metal frame – so if you want to adjust it, you’ll be using force. But that doesn’t stop it being one of the most popular hand-me-down baby bouncers out there, and its new deep seat and head cushion make it easily as comfortable as some of the higher-end brands.
Maximum weight: 9kg; six months
2. Fisher-Price Kick and Play: Best baby bouncer for budding musicians
There are a fair few rockers and bouncers that play music for your little one, but few that let your little one be the musician. The fantastic Fisher-Price Kick and Play Musical Bouncer come with three “keys” near where your baby’s feet will reside. Above your baby, across the top of the toy bar, are three lights that correspond with the colours of the keys.
When your baby kicks one of these keys, the corresponding colour lights up and a musical note is played. You can either set it so that each key plays a single note or when they kick the key it plays music for up to 15 minutes as the lights “dance” to the beat. It’s similar to Fisher-Price’s Kick and Playmat, which is also a lot of fun.
Hanging from the toy bar is even a rattle to help them create a little percussion. Elsewhere, the rocker is brightly coloured and its seat pad is machine washable. When it’s time to calm your baby down, the musical settings can be switched off and you can switch on the calming vibrations setting instead. Our baby would quite often get bored in other rockers and bouncers quite quickly but he would happily sit in this for ages, kicking and smiling away. This made it easier to grab a cup of tea, have a shower or even just go for a wee. It’s quite a large bouncer and isn’t the most stylish. Plus the songs have a tendency to get stuck in your head, but these are minor quibbles.
Washable seat pad
Maximum weight: 11kg;
3. Red Kite Baby Linen Cozy Bouncer: Best baby bouncer on a budget
This bouncer from the baby and child experts at Red Kite looks the part, offers some great features and comes in at under £30 – it’s no wonder it’s the best baby bouncer on Amazon. Weighing just 2.2kg, this lightweight baby bouncer is suitable from birth and comes with a padded head hugger for either support, for when your baby is tiny, or some added comfort as they grow and can better support their own head. The black and white striped design is perfect for your baby as they’ll love the contrast, and the cute swinging bear and star will keep them amused (for a while at least). Elsewhere, this bouncer has a soft vibration setting and plays calming music. The Red Kite Baby Linen Cozy Bouncer usually retails for £26.99 but Amazon is currently selling it for £24. This is great value for money.
Dimensions: 50 x 60 x 48cm
4. Babybjörn Bouncer Balance Soft: Best baby bouncer for style
Want something simple that will last (and have a fair chunk to spend on a baby bouncer)? Look no further. Babybjörn’s baby bouncer chairs are ergonomically designed for infants from birth to two years and are so comfortable you’ll have trouble keeping them out of it beyond that.
Supportive, strong and snugly, the Balance Soft baby bouncer is highly responsive: every little kick creates a rocking movement and helps your baby self-soothe. It has four positions – play, rest, sleep and compact – and folds flat enough to slip down the side of the sofa when not in use or on the boot shelf of your hatchback.
The soft padded seat is made from jersey fabric and comes in a range of neutral colours, but if you have a summer baby, you may opt for a Bouncer Bliss (£144.99), which is a stylish update of 1972 original and comes in a cool, child-friendly mesh (if you have the Balance Soft, you can also buy the mesh fabric seat separately for £55). There is also the option to buy a travel bag (£18) and a set of tasteful wooden toys (from £26.99) that clip on to the front.
The Babybjörn baby bouncer is, surprisingly, not the most expensive baby bouncer on this list but you may feel that £120 is a little steep for something so simple, and you’re really paying for the brand and build quality in this instance, so you’ll need to weigh up whether the design and compact nature is what you’re after.
Machine washable fabric
Maximum weight/age:13kg, 24 months
Dimensions: 61 x 39 x 92cm
5. Stokke Steps Bouncer: The comfiest baby bouncer
This cocoon-like bouncer from Norwegian brand Stokke is beautifully designed in a range of dusky lounge-friendly colours. The plush fabric and padded newborn insert provide plenty of support for babies from birth until around six months and its robust base unit is fitted with a detachable hook so you can keep your baby’s favourite toy close to hand.
It can be used on the floor in a range of seating positions that can be adjusted to your baby’s weight or mounted to the Stokke Steps high chair. This may solve the problem with having the baby on the floor, versus on the side while you’re preparing dinner. While it folds flat it’s still on the bulky side so might not be a great pick if space is at a premium.
Five-point safety harness
Maximum weight/age:9kg, six months
Dimensions: 80 x 67 x 53cm
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