Stationary activity centers help keep your little one entertained when you can't hold her. They're considered safer than the traditional wheeled baby walkers, which can pose a falling risk for babies who wheel them too close to stairwells. Although stationary activity centers are a safer alternative, you should keep a few safety tips in mind to be sure you purchase the best one for your curious baby.
Stationary activity centers allow your baby to sit upright to play, but also provide support if your little one isn't walking yet. The activity centers are decked out with a variety of brightly colored toys that are designed to stimulate your baby and capture her attention. The seat inside the stationary activity center usually swivels around so your baby can go from toy to toy as she wants. Most of these activity centers are designed for babies between the ages of 4 and 6 months, though many parents continue using them for several months beyond that.
What to Look For
Choose a stationary activity center that's certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, recommends the ConsumerReports.org website. The certification doesn't absolutely guarantee that the stationary activity center is completely safe, but it does improve those chances. Select an activity center that's adjustable so you can move the seat up or down according to your baby's height. Using a center with a seat at the right height will keep your baby more comfortable, but will reduce the risk of muscle fatigue, as well. Buy an activity center that has large toys attached. The ConsumerReports.org website recommends using one with toys that are too large to fit through a toilet paper tube, which means they're too big to become choking hazards if they come apart from the activity center. The activity center should also have a deep enough seat that your little one can't tip out or a seat belt with a sturdy latch.
Keeping it Safe
Inspect your baby's stationary activity center regularly to be sure it continues to be your safest option. Make sure the toys are firmly attached and remove any that become loose. Watch for sharp edges, too, because they can pose an injury risk, according to Consumer Reports. Adhere to the height and weight guidelines that came with the activity center, as well. Most centers are for babies up to 25 pounds and 30 to 32 inches in height. Once your baby exceeds these limits, don't put him in the stationary activity center anymore because it's no longer safe.
Before you purchase a stationary activity center, check manufacturer websites for recall information. Always fill out the product card that comes with your baby's activity center, as well, so you'll be immediately notified if the activity center is recalled. Proceed with caution when it comes to purchasing a used activity center. According to Nancy Harvey Steorts, author of "Safe Living in a Dangerous World," many used activity centers are old and no longer meet safety standards. If you do want to use a hand-me-down activity center, make sure it meets safety standards and inspect it carefully to be sure it doesn't have any loose, broken or missing parts.
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