Exersaucers can be a great way to keep babies occupied and engaged in play while their parents get a couple of things done.
As with any tool that can be used to make life easier with a baby, you want to make sure that the child’s safety is the utmost priority.
Should baby be flat-footed in exersaucer? Babies’ feet should be flat on the bottom of an exersaucer or activity center. If your baby is on their tippy toes, the tray is too high and should be lowered. If your baby is able to bend their legs and push up, the tray is too low, and you either need to raise it or stop using the exersaucer.
Safely using an exersaucer or similar activity center can buy parents some time to be hands-free and get other things accomplished while also entertaining the baby. Read on to see how to use them as safely as possible.
Baby Exersaucer: Guide for Safe Use
Exersaucers can provide a lot of skill-building for babies and help them engage some gross motor skills. However, they are only effective when used safely and correctly.
Exersaucers are designed with children ages 4-24 months in mind. This age limit or recommendation could vary depending on the height and weight of your child.
Skills & Strength Requirements for Exersaucers
In order to use the exersaucer safely, a baby must be able to sit independently and hold their head up on their own. Babies reach these milestones at different ages, but these two skills must be mastered before using the exersaucer.
Exersaucers usually come with three different height settings that can be adjusted as your baby grows. It’s also very important that your baby’s feet be flat on the bottom and not on their tippy toes or able to push up.
If your baby has reached the maximum adjusted height and their feet are not flat, it’s time to discontinue the use of the exersaucer.
Exersaucer Weight Limit
Most brands of exersaucers say that a baby should stop using it when they reach 30-35 pounds. Exersaucers use should also cease when your baby is anywhere from 30-32 inches tall.
Signs Your Baby Is Not Ready for an Exersaucer
Babies should be able to hold their heads up and sit unassisted in order to use exersaucers. You also want to make sure your baby has enough trunk or core strength to sit up straight in the activity center.
If your baby is leaning on the activity center, their muscles might not develop how they should, and using the exersaucer could cause more harm than good.
Maximum Time Baby Should Spend in Exersaucer
Exersaucers should be used in moderation. As they are stationary, babies’ interaction with the outside world is still limited to just what is around them.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends only using exersaucers for about 15 minutes a day. Excessive use of exersaucers could cause damage to babies’ leg muscles and hips.
Are Exersaucers Good for Babies?
There are mixed opinions on if exersaucers are good or bad for babies. Ultimately, the decision comes down to the parents and if they feel like an activity center would be useful or beneficial.
Exersaucers are safer than baby jumpers and baby walkers due to their stationary nature. They also help babies develop gross motor skills, such as sitting, standing, and walking.
They help babies develop fine motor skills, such as using their hands and grasping things, and provide a safe place for babies to play while parents do something else.
Are Exersaucers Bad for Babies?
Some pediatricians and some parents are very adamantly against the use of exersaucers. Exersaucers limit the range of motion of babies, which can be both a blessing and a curse.
Babies who don’t use exersaucers often find it easier to crawl as they haven’t had their range of motion limited when developing core strength.
Exersaucers, when used too much, can cause hip problems for growing babies. Some think that exersaucers can also cause babies to develop poor toe positioning and bad posture for walking.
Exersaucers often come with toys attached that make noise, and there are some who think they can be overstimulating to babies.
Negative Effects of Exersaucers
The use of exersaucers can cause “inverted ankles” or “bow-legged” babies when used too early or too frequently.
Keeping your baby contained and engaged is good in moderation, but using it too much could cause babies to be delayed in hitting their milestones.
As with any tool you use in parenthood, using it appropriately and with good discernment can prevent a lot of harm. The exersaucer is not a babysitter, so use it wisely.
- Babies should never be left unattended in the exersaucer.
- When assembling the exersaucer, make sure you are reading and following all the instructions.
- Play in exersaucer should be limited to about 15 minutes a day or less.
- Make sure that the exersaucer is not close to anything dangerous, such as stairs, or within reach of a table or anything a baby could reach.
- Babies should not eat or drink in the exersaucer.
- No other toys or objects should be put in the exersaucer with the baby as this could cause injury.
Are Baby Activity Centers Necessary?
Activity centers and exersaucers are certainly not necessary items when having a baby.
When used correctly, they can offer parents a bit of time to get a couple of things done around the house. They are a luxury item but certainly not necessary.
Are Activity Centers Good for Babies?
A baby’s world expands with new experiences and new things to learn. Activity centers can assist in that learning by offering them a safe place to practice standing and using their muscles.
They also provide them with safe stimulation and allow them to practice gross and fine motor skills. When used briefly, activity centers can be good for babies and helpful for parents.
Are Activity Centers Bad for Development?
There are varying schools of thought on this matter. Babies learn best from engagement with parents and other people. Activity centers provide activity but not a lot of engagement with the world around them.
If used too early, a baby’s physical development might suffer. This is also true if they are used too frequently.
Ultimately, the use of exersaucers should be supplemental to all other ways parents use to further their baby’s development.
There is not a ton of scientific evidence that suggests activity centers are bad for development when used correctly.
Are Jumpers Safe for Babies?
Many pediatricians don’t recommend the use of baby jumpers. This recommendation is based on the idea that the likelihood of injury is too great and outweighs the benefits.
Babies can jump into other objects such as walls or doors in a baby jumper. They also could damage tiny, forming bones and ligaments.
Pediatricians also think that proper setup is hard to achieve with baby jumpers, which could compromise the safety of the device. Should parents need a moment to occupy their babies, there are safer ways to contain them.
Good parents want to enrich their children’s lives in any way available to them. Providing babies with new things to explore and learn in the form of exersaucers or activity centers can be a part of that goal.
It is also true that sometimes parents need a break or to do something without their babies in their arms. Activity centers can be fun for babies and helpful for parents as long as safety is the number one concern.
As a twin mom herself, Nikki is passionate about helping moms and twin parents learn how to manage their chaos better. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) practicing Marriage and Family Therapy.