As a new parent, you're probably tempted to buy all the gadgets and equipment to make life a little easier. While some of these items are ideal choices for life with a baby, others might be unsafe or unnecessary. Vibrating bouncer seats are touted as a way to keep your baby content or lull her to sleep while you get things done around the house. Understanding the safety of a vibrating bouncer allows you to use it as safely as possible.
When you place your baby in a bouncer seat, you want her to be as safe as possible. Most bouncers are recommended for babies up to 6 months old and most have a weight restriction. Once your baby reaches the age or weight limit, putting her in a vibrating bouncer is unsafe. Meanwhile, make sure to properly restrain your baby using the strap or harness on the bouncer. This keeps her from sliding out, whether she tips over or the vibration slowly pushes her down. ConsumerReports.org suggests using a head support for newborns so they are comfortable in the seat.
A vibrating bouncer seat might be just the thing to get your fussy baby to calm down. However, prolonged use means she's in the same position for an extended amount of time. Since a baby's head is still growing and the bones haven't fused yet, this can lead to flat head syndrome, also known as plagiocephaly. Since doctors recommend keeping babies on their backs to prevent suffocation, some spend much of the day with their heads resting against a bouncer, stroller or car seat. Orthotist Kate Chauhan, quoted in an article on MailOnline.com, recommends ensuring that time in the bouncer is balanced with plenty of time for your baby to play on her tummy or in your arms, which gives her skull the opportunity to grow and develop normally.
It can be tempting to leave your baby in her vibrating bouncer if it helps her fall asleep. While it's likely safe for your little one to play in the bouncer when you're close by to keep an eye on her, sleeping in a bouncer isn't a good idea. According to the National SUID/SIDS Resource Center, babies shouldn't spend excessive time in a bouncer because of the pressure applied to the back of head, which could eventually cause plagiocephaly. The safest place for baby to nap is on her back in her crib.
Choosing a Vibrating Bouncer
ConsumerReports.org recommends choosing a vibrating bouncer that has been certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. These bouncers meet safety standards regarding small parts, sharp points and restraints. If you're buying a secondhand bouncer, look it over carefully for broken pieces, ripped fabric, exposed batteries and sharp edges and make sure it comes with the original owner's manual.
- ConsumerReports.org: Bouncer Seat Buying Guide
- National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: Study Confirms Safety of Placing Infants to Sleep on Their Backs
- Mail Online: Are Baby Bouncers and Car Seats to Blame for the Rise in Flat Head Syndrome?
- National SUID/SIDS Resource Center: Safe Sleep for Your Baby Around the Clock, Birth to 12 Months
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images