Baby bouncers, baby swings and baby rockers all have one thing in common: they are nothing short of a miracle for completely frazzled first-time parents who want a few minutes of sanity from colicky infants and toddlers.
These fun tools are used to soothe and entertain crying babies thereby allowing you a hands-free moment to carry on other pressing chores, or just relax.
But what are the differences between the 3, and can you simply get any? Well, here is a low down of these baby chairs including their best fit, and how to choose the right one.
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The reason why I opted to start with the swing is that it is what babes want during their very first few months.
Just as its name suggests, a baby swing is a nicely padded chair that is suspended on a sturdy frame just like an adults’ swing. It keeps swinging back and forth (or side to side) in a motion akin to the womb’s rocking motion, and can be used right from birth to when the baby is around 6-9 months old.
Od course there are also baby swings for older babies who can already sit upright – for indoor or outdoor use.
In addition to understanding and adhering to the recommended age groups and weight limits, most manufacturers and pediatricians advise parents to retire the swings once the user is able to sit unassisted or climb out and plunge to the ground.
How to choose the best baby swing
- Understand the type- baby swings come in all types ranging from basic models to combination swings that integrate the functionality of 2 types of chairs (a bouncer, a grinder, a rocker, and a cradle) to break the monotony.
- Mode of powering- baby swings need power for their swinging motion and they can be powered either through batteries or electricity. Of course, battery-powered baby swings are the best if you want something that you’ll be moving a lot with. The only twist is that batteries tend to be expensive to replace down the road.
- Safety harness- generally, baby swings are expected to have a 3-point harness system at the minimum. But most of the recent models now feature a 5-point harness that includes an over-the-shoulder restraint in addition to the mandatory waist and belt harness system.
- Type of motion- traditional baby swings rock head to toe. But most of the newer models now incorporate other types of motions including circular moves, and up and down hops and they are the best at soothing babies.
If you’ve used an adults’ rocking chair before, then a baby rocker shouldn’t be so hard to understand. This is basically a kiddo’s seat with 2 slightly curved bands at the bottom that allow you to push the chair in an arc motion by either using your hands or simply nudging it with your toe to initiate the rocking motion.
When should you use a baby rocker?
Similar to a swing, a baby rocker can also be used right from birth but most of them are only usable up to around 6 months.
Compared to baby swings, most baby rockers are generally more compact in that they have smaller frame (because they are not suspended mid-air like a swing chair).
How to choose the best baby rocker
- Frame- the functionality and reliability of a baby rocker mainly boil down to the sturdiness of the frame. The best baby rockers have a frame made of strong metal while most run-of-the-mill Chinese-made models are made of cheap plastics. Of course, the former will come at a cost, but the good thing is that they allow you to leverage the rocker throughout their usable life and can actually be passed down to younger kids thereby saving you money in the long run.
- Wide base- consider a rocker with a wide base to alleviate the risk of tipping over.
- Non-slip pads- double check whether the baby rocker has non-slip pads to prevent sliding dangerously especially on tile and wood floors.
- Adequately padded seat- a nicely padded seat goes a long way in boosting the comfort level of the baby rocker. You don’t want it overly done, though, or it will create issues of sinking uncomfortably into the seat thereby leading to other issues such as heat build-up and retention. The seat should also be soft on your baby’s skin and not itchy.
- Entertainment- most regular rockers don’t offer much other than the rocking motions. If you don’t mind spending just a little more, however, you’ll be comparing some advanced baby rockers some which include lights, vibrating seats, and musical sounds to keep your young one occupied.
Similar to baby swings and rockers baby bouncers is meant for infants who cannot sit unassisted yet and usually serves up to 9 months. After that time some of the baby bouncers can be used as a toddler chair (for example the Nuna Leaf Grow and BabyBjorn Bouncer Balance Soft).
At its most basic level, a bouncer is simply a seat on a wire frame that allows it to spring up and down. At first, the child can relax or sleep in the bouncer, while mommy or daddy are rocking it with their hands.
These chairs are also designed for playtime and come in handy when the tot realizes that a few leg and arm movements are all it takes to start the stimulating spring movements of a bouncer. So it actually helps to teach the baby cause and effect.
How to choose the best baby bouncer
- Check the weight capacity- using a baby bouncer basically involves the toddler using her legs and arm muscles to spring up and down. While it’s hilarious to see them do this, it’s important to consider the weight restriction to eliminate the risk of toppling over due to intense vibrations.
- High-quality textile and materials- kids generally love bouncing and you might find it hard to get them out of the bouncer once you put them on it. Considering the amount of time that they are bound to spend on the bouncer, it’s of paramount importance to ensure that textiles won’t cause any skin problem including itchiness and rashes.
- Easy to clean- the fabrics and the general surface of the bouncer should also be easy to clean considering how prone they are to messes. Good thing, most bouncers come with removable seats that can actually go into the washing machine. Not all are machine-washable, though, so remember to double-check.
- Portability and ease of storage- do you plan to move a lot with the baby bouncer? If so, consider a travel bouncer that is lightweight and that can fold into a compact size for easy transportation. A bouncer that folds flat also makes a great alternative if you are pressed for space in your apartment.