Is an exersaucer bad for a baby? That is a question I asked myself at one point after I got a jumperoo from my mother as a gift to her granddaughter. (A jumperoo is the bouncier version of an exersaucer). Don’t get me wrong. It was a fun and exciting toy. I would love to give it to my daughter because it felt like loads of fun and tons of good exercise.
It certainly felt that way because both devices seemed be hours of fun for my little daughter. They are designed differently but they are designed for babies to jump and dance. The jumperoo is designed like a little swing so when your child jumps, it is a little bouncier. The exersaucer is designed to be like a little bouncy chair so it would be less bouncy and it looks a bit like a feeding table.
Both the jumperoo and the exersaucer has no wheels. With the wheels removed, your child can’t zip around the room with it. This was intentionally done starting back in the 90’s because there were many cases where children hurt themselves zipping around with baby walkers. For example, the baby might fall off the stairs (could be prevented with the right baby gates), knock things off the kitchen table, or reach dangerous places with the walker’s support.
The exersaucer and the jumperoo feels like the solution to the walker problems. However, there are side effects to exersaucer and jumperoos. Neither of these devices were perfect. They can create a lot of long term health problems that are hard to correct.
The box that comes with the exersaucer usually indicates that a baby can use it as early as six months old. Bluntly speaking, that’s a little too early. The reason is because your baby doesn’t have the ability, muscle strength balance sense to sit on her own yet. Whether it’s the walker or the exersaucer, getting locked into it early will mess up her spine, and legs considering how the contraption makes her arch forward, or backwards in an awkward way.
Whether it’s the walker or the exersaucer, the longer your little one plays in it, the more difficult it will be to let her learn to balance herself. The reason is very simple. Little kids learn to balance themselves by looking at how their body reacts to gravity and the environment.
The exersaucer pretty much blocks off your child’s view of her feet making her balancing practice extremely difficult. It’s basically the same problem with the walker. To make things worse, she is pretty much having her whole body weight dangling on her private area.
Standing prematurely before your little one has enough muscle strength will orient her knees in the wrong direction. For this instance, her knees will be forced to orient towards the center, which might end up as a knock knee problem.
Another problem with exersaucer is that the baby has to stand on her toes. As she is bouncing, it’s possible to jam her toes. Even if she doesn’t jam her toes, staying on her toes all day might lead to toe walking.
In other words, instead of walking properly on the soles (bottom) of her feet, she might tend to walk on her toes. This is simply because muscle development has gone in the wrong direction and her achilles tendon is pulled too tightly. Her toes will tend to point down walking flat on her feet again will be extremely difficult.
A problem with an exersaucer is that your child is limited to playing only the toys in front of her. At a young age, children should be encouraged to explore their environment (in a safe way of course).
With toys already in front of her, she would lose the motivation to move around the house to look for fun. This limits her brain and body development which is something you do not want.
That’s why it’s important not let her use the exersaucer beyond 30 minutes total during the day. If your child has some kind of neurological development problem, then that time has to be even shorter. The reason is because it will have a negative impact. If that’s the case, then no more than 15 minutes total during the day.
Yes, you read that right. It’s total for the day so each session would have to be super short, or you simply have to rely on the exersaucer less. If you treat the exersaucer like a baby sitter all the time, then that time can really add up to hours which is not something you really want.
Let’s be real here. It’s true that the purpose of buying an exersaucer is to give your kids a good leg workout. However, most parents who purchased walkers and exersaucers most likely wanted a one time purchase babysitter.
Parents are busy people. There’s usually a lot of things to do in the house like:
- mopping the floors
- answering important e-mails/phone calls
This is why an exersaucer feels like a life saver. You can just drop your baby in there then move on with your busy life. However, doing this too often is actually a really big mistake. As time passes by, your little one might love the toys and exersaucer more than loving you as a parent. Every minute being spent with the child counts towards their affection towards you.
So is an exersaucer bad for a baby? If you already bought one, or someone in your house insisted that you buy one, it’s still alright. There are still safe ways to use the exersaucer.
No matter what the label on the product says you must not allow your little one to use an exersaucer until she can sit up on their own without any problems.
The reason this is important is because your little one has already obtained tough core muscles and body strength to maintain proper body posture. This will prevent your little one from having her posture get “mutated” by the exersaucer.
Instead of letting your little one play inside the exersaucer, it is a bit better to play outside the exersaucer. The idea is to let her hold onto the exersaucer while standing up right on her own outside of the exersaucer. In a sense, this is almost like attaching training wheels to an actual bike. The idea is to let her use all of her muscles and creative thinking to keep herself up right and balanced.
For this one you will have to supervise your baby while she does this. It sounds a bit ironic because you most likely bought an exersaucer as a one time purchase babysitter. You are probably desperate to have your child play on her own, but it is better play it safe and make sure she doesn’t fall down and get herself hurt.
Detach the toys from the exersaucer and let her play with them on the floor if she really loves them. Doing this prevents the exercsaucer from corrupting her posture while giving her a chance to pursue others toys in the room she’s in. It gives her a chance to search around the room while not being limited to the toys in front of her.
Exersaucers are fun for kids. One of the reasons is because it has a rocking feature. What kid doesn’t enjoy bouncing around like crazy? However letting your kid bouncing uncontrollably can actually damage her posture. She might lean forward or lean backwards too much in awkward situations. It might sound like a waste of money, but for the sake of her health lock the exersaucer so that it does not bounce. Just let your child sit there like a little feeding table.
When you adjust the height of the exersaucer, the recommended height is the one where your little one barely touches the floor with her toes. This can lead to toe walking problems as I mentioned earlier. In order for you to prevent that, it’s best to put something under her feet to prevent that from happening. The usual recommendation would be something like a cushion or a pillow. It’s soft, acts like shock absorbers and prevents tippy toeing.
I am sure you are aware by now that the exersaucer does not help your child learn to walk. If you really want your child to learn how to walk faster, do the following:
- Let her play on the floor a lot
- let her play outside the exersaucer, while using it as assistance for standing up
It is very by now the purchasing an exersaucer is probably not a very good idea. For the sake of your child’s health, you have to prevent it from bouncing, limit the amount of time your child plays in it, and supervise her while she plays outside of the exersaucer.
In other words, you basically can’t use it. You are better off buying a feeding table from a 99 cents store. However, the exersaucer, and jumperoo are just two examples of what your child shouldn’t be playing in for too long. There are other activities that have similar harm to her health if she does it for too long.
This also applies to:
- Sitting on car seats for too long
- Playing the swings for too long.
- Playing on bouncy chairs for too long
If your little one does too much sitting down, or laying down, then it is possible that there will be delays in her development. Not to mention laying down too much has the risk of flatting her undeveloped head.
At the end of the day, it is all about floor time. Almost every parent I know have children who walks really early when they leave them on the floor more. It is not proven science, but anecdotal evidence suggests that playing on the floor without restrictions helps a child learn to use her body a lot faster.
It is tempting to want to purchase a fun toy for your child. However, there are currently no safe devices in the world that can help your child learn to walk any faster than playing on the floor. Not to mention you can save the money and buy something else.
If you have any questions, please leave it in the comment section below.