An Expert Guide to Baby BouncersPublished on 06/30/2022 · 8 min readBaby bouncers are a great option for keeping your baby entertained and safe while you get things done! Here are a few considerations when looking at bouncers.
Baby bouncers, rockers, swings—they’re all one and the same, right? For most, the mental image of any of these things involves a baby snuggled in a tiny, comfy chair perfectly sized for them.
While making an infant happy and comfortable—without someone holding them—is certainly the purpose of a bouncer, rocker, or swing, these baby seats are actually different in how they move and how portable they are.
Movement and Portability
For one, bouncers (a.k.a. bouncy seats or bouncy chairs) don’t always bounce. Some rock front to back, like a rocker, and some bouncers are rockers; they move like a rocking chair in a back-and-forth motion. They are powered by the baby’s movements or someone else rocking and gently bouncing them. This makes a bouncer’s movements less predictable and usually less rhythmic.
Many swings make similar motions—while also being able to sway side to side—but they aren’t self-propelled and low to the ground like bouncers. A swing requires electricity (via an outlet or batteries) to swing a baby into motion for a set amount of time controlled by a timer. On a swing, the padded, fabric seat is usually suspended in the air by a sturdy frame. That makes swings bigger and heavier than bouncers.
Alternatively, bouncers tend to be smaller, lighter, and low profile/close to the ground. Many can be folded flat for easy transport and storage, making them more travel friendly.
Just as adults like to have their own personal space, it’s nice for a baby to have their own spot to sit back and relax at times, out of the hands of others. That’s what both a bouncer and swing can do. Either can be a baby’s safe place/hands-off zone that gives them a few minutes by themselves. (Think about a child who is constantly poked and prodded by others—wouldn’t you want this for them?)
So do you need a baby bouncer? A baby needs human nurturing above all else, and in their infant stage (birth to one year), it’s important that they’re held and carefully attended to. But you do need to free your hands every now and then, and it’s okay for a baby to be sat down in a baby seat. A bouncer is a great option for that.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), while a baby bouncer, rocker, or swing is a safe space for a baby under careful supervision, these products are not approved for safe sleep. They should be used as tools to calm or entertain babies with movements that soothe them while they are awake.
Approved bouncers, rockers, and swings have a safety harness and are generally recommended for use until the baby can sit up on their own (around 6 to 9 months of age). Check the age recommendation and weight limit for each product/manufacturer or talk to an Expert for help.
With that said, it’s time to decide whether you need a swing, a bouncer, or even a rocker. This guide explains the uses of baby bouncers and how their portability, affordability, and overall simplicity can make them a solid choice over a swing.
How Can You Use a Bouncer?
Why would anyone buy a baby bouncer? For caregivers looking for a simple yet safe place to put a baby down every now and then, a bouncer—which can be as simple as a wire frame that bounces up and down—can fulfill that need.
The best baby bouncers are ergonomically designed to support an infant’s head, neck, back, and legs. They’re made with soft fabrics that mold to a baby’s body and help distribute their weight evenly. The seat cover is often removable and washable.
Some bouncers grow with a child as they become toddlers (like the BabyBjörn Bouncer Balance Soft, which converts to a chair to accommodate kids from birth to age two), while helping them develop balance and motor skills from a seated position. Bouncers like this rock in response to a baby’s movement—even tiny kicks or arm motions.
Designed for playtime, many bouncers feature an interactive, removable toy bar or mobile with plush and/or colorful toys for babies to look at. A bouncer can help distract a fussy baby and hold their attention while a parent or caregiver takes care of other tasks (or simply takes a break). It also gives a baby the opportunity to watch you or others move around them, which they may find entertaining (especially if you bust out some dance moves!).
A few bouncers include sound options, like melodies or nature sounds (batteries required). However, battery or outlet-powered swings typically offer more music features than bouncers.
If your baby needs a cozy place to chill out, a bouncer can do that too. Parents of newborns often find themselves “switching it up” with a baby every 20 minutes or so, or however long a baby can tolerate. That might mean playing with them on the ground for a bit, then holding them for a few minutes, then putting them down in a bouncer.
After playtime, a bouncer’s calming movements (which often mimic swaying in the womb) can help a baby relax. The same can be true if a baby is upset and crying; they may find the calming motion is enough to settle them.
What Are the Benefits of a Bouncer?
Perhaps the best characteristic of bouncers is that they’re lightweight and compact, taking up less space in your home or vehicle. They also fold flat (or nearly flat), can be swiftly moved from one room to another, and pack small for travel or easy storage.
If a baby swing the size of an armchair is something you don’t want in your home, a bouncer with a significantly smaller footprint—which can be tossed into a closet when not in use—might be your best bet. Bouncers often weigh around 5 pounds, while many swings are closer to 25lbs.
There can be a considerable price difference when it comes to baby bouncers and swings. Bouncers tend to be less expensive, while many swings are double the price. Of course, there are more expensive bouncers and less expensive swings, but generally, the simplicity of bouncers makes them more budget-friendly.
Another benefit of baby bouncers is that they’re powered by the baby’s movements or someone else’s. Bouncers don’t run on batteries or electricity, so they don’t have cords or choking hazards of that nature. They also won’t run out of “juice” at the least opportune time (like when your child is finally lulled into a happy trance).
Bouncers often need a nudge to get them moving. Rockers require the same type of human propulsion, and both need to be gently pushed or tapped again whenever their momentum stops. Some bouncers are easier to bounce than others, and not all respond to a baby’s tiny movements—meaning you’ll have more rocking to do.
The caveat is that certain bouncers have a vibration button that can be toggled on or off which requires batteries. If your baby doesn’t particularly like or is indifferent to a bouncer’s soothing vibrations (or music/sounds), you can do without the batteries, but they’re an option.
While many bouncers have various recline positions (flatter for newborns and more upright for older babies), some cannot be adjusted or have less customizability. You may wish to put your child at more of an incline for playtime when you want to keep them awake, while the recline is useful when it’s time to mellow out.
The ability to change the incline for your child is especially helpful for babies with colic or reflux. Generally, babies with reflux improve when seated in a more upright position, and the same goes for a colicky baby if they cry while laid flat.
When You Might Want a Swing Instead
If this all sounds great but you’re craving more—like more automatic features and less hands-on time, more soothing movements and entertainment features, and maybe even the ability to control it from your phone—then a swing may be a better option. Swings are certainly more stationary, less easy to move, and usually need to be near a wall outlet.
The lack of bells and whistles makes bouncers appealing to some, but uninspiring and not as useful for others. Those who don’t need a portable baby seat will probably get more use from a mechanical swing, especially those who spend most of their time at home (or work from home). For those interested, check out this Most Recommended Baby Swings article.
In terms of baby bouncer/swing safety, they aren’t ideal for every living situation. Bouncers or swings must be placed flat on the floor and never on an elevated surface, like a table, countertop, or other furniture. Be especially mindful of children or pets who could risk your baby’s safety by pulling or pawing at them in a swing or bouncer.
I hope this general rundown of baby gear gave you some insight on whether a baby bouncer could benefit you and your child or someone you’re giving it to as a gift. Every baby is different, but bouncers can be used in a variety of ways, from a simple seat to a giggle-inducing, safe place for an infant inside or outside the home. As Baby Experts, we’re here to help you with these kinds of purchase decisions, so be sure to connect with one of us here on Curated so we can talk through it!
This content is meant to be informative and add to your understanding of this subject, but it is not definitive nor a replacement for your own sensibility. Neither Curated nor any Curated Expert is responsible for any liability resulting from information or advice shared here. Please consult with a medical professional for any health concerns.