Updated January 2017
Holding your baby is great and all, but you simply can’t do it 24/7. You must put him down at some point to pee, dry your hair, chop some garlic, or update your Facebook status (helllllooo).
This is one of those things you don’t really think about before the baby comes, but it’s soooo important. I recommend you have this from Day 1. We discuss various survival techniques in Crib Notes, our weekly newsletter.
When it comes to these “baby containment devices” [snort], there are many options. There are pillows that sit on the floor, such as the DockATot (gag) or the Boppy Newborn Lounger. There are seats that sit directly on the floor, which is a traditional baby bouncer, or “off the floor” options, such as the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play. There are baby swings, which are swings that hang by a frame and plug-in to swing indefinitely. There are also items that combine two or more of these, so…. here goes.
As a new mom, I thought a baby bouncer was a swing that you hang from a door frame while the baby bounces off the floor (YEAH, laugh all you want. Jerk). Actually, a bouncer is just a seat for an infant who can’t sit up. It looks something like that <—
From 0-6 months, a place to stash your baby (a baby bouncer, Rock ‘n Play, etc.) is a must-have. And, by the way, most of them don’t actually bounce, but they do vibrate, make sounds, and have weird things to look at, so stock up on DD batteries. They get used up fast.
Which one to choose? They are all pretty much the same, so don’t dedicate too many brain cells to this decision. That said, here are our favorites.
Affordable Baby Bouncers
Remember that bouncers are only used for about six months or so, so you might not want to spend a lot. Here are our favorite “every day” bouncers:
Fancy Baby Bouncers
If you have some more money to spend — or know someone will buy it from your registry (big grin), there are some higher-end bouncers out there that are well-liked — and great looking. These are all in the $200 territory.
- BabyBjorn Balance ~ $199 ($140 on Amazon)
- Babyhome Wave Rocker ~ $179
- Stokke Steps ~ $199
- Bloom Coco Loungers ~ $200
- Nuna Leaf ~ $229
Affordable Baby Bouncers
$ — Bright Starts Rocker ~ $33
This rocker by Bright Starts can sit still or rock, depending on your mood. Two-position recline with vibration and toy bar. Cheap, easy and well-liked.
$$ — Fisher-Price Deluxe Bouncer ~ $65
A tried and true crowd favorite — very snuggly with eight songs, nature sounds and vibrations. Also, an extra-cute bird thing to look at. Score!
$$$ — Skip Hop Uplift Bouncer ~ $150
Unlike other bouncers listed here, this one is height-adjustable, so you can pull it up to the dinner table — score!!! Comes with a removable toy bar, two songs and two sound affects (w/ volume control) and a vibration mode – all of which can be set to turn off after 20 min.
*Napping is ok, but not recommended for overnight sleeping.
Some people are willing to pay more for a baby gadget that complements their decor. These are for you —
1. BabyBjorn Bouncer Balance ~ $199 ($140 on Amazon)
Say that 3 times fast.
The beloved Balance is a staple in many households. This bouncer (of sorts) is a safe and beautiful spot for baby to chill in. No batteries are needed for this sucker (yay!), because your baby learns how to make it rock using her own movements.
There are four settings on this one: upright, fully reclined, partially reclined, and folded down. The fold-flat means it’s pretty easy to take along on trips and such. Very highly rated.
2. Babyhome Wave Rocker ~ $179
As of mid-2017, Babyhome is no longer available in the US – all of their inventory went back to Spain. That said, we are leaving this review up (for now) as you may still be able to locate a few pieces in store or online. Yes, we are sad about this too!
This delicious rocker is available in four color finishes that are ideal for rooms with contemporary décor. The Wave has a steady front-to-back rocking motion — with the option for a stationary position. It folds easily and compactly and can be stored in small areas – perfect if you live in an apartment or smaller home.
3. Stokke Steps Bouncer ~ $199
Our favorite thing about the Stokke Steps bouncer is not the bouncer itself (which is fine, but not anything spectacular), but that it becomes part of a grow-with-me seating and feeding system.
If you buy the Steps high chair [sold sep, which we love!], you can put the bouncer on the chair and bring it to the table for dinner in months 0-6. From there, it goes on to grow with your child.
If you love modern design, definitely check out Stokke [in general] and their bouncers and chairs. Good stuff.
4. Bloom Coco Loungers ~ $200
Bloom makes a few different loungers that are pretty rad. The “Go Organic Lounger,” for example, is a rocker, lounger, and fixed seat – all in one. Best part is, it folds up super slim, so you can take it on the go.
5. Nuna Leaf Seat ~ $229
The sleek Nuna Leaf seat is unique in that it can be used from infancy to preschool and beyond (up to 130 lbs!). Without batteries, cords, or any noise to speak of, this seat is perfect for your little one to nap/chill when it’s time to rest or wait for mom to GSD (get stuff done).
The organic cotton insert is soft, and the motion of the Leaf continues for about two minutes unassisted with a mere push. If you have the money, you gone’ loves you a Leaf.
* Last year, they introduced the “Wind,” which is a battery pack unit that will keep your Leaf swaying back and forth indefinitely (since rocking it with your foot can get a little tiresome, lol). If your Leaf has a red sticker on the bottom, it’s compatible; if not, nay.
My favorite baby containment device is the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play.
This is a great little seat/bed that gets baby off the ground, which is key if you don’t want your dog or cat to be up in your baby’s business all the time. It’s also MUCH easier on your back than bending over a bouncer that’s on the floor.
Remember, it’s better for baby not to spend too much time in passive “baby holding” devices, such as car seats, bouncers or semi-reclined bouncers, like the Rock ‘n Play. When holding or wearing your baby isn’t practical, put baby on a blanket or on a play mat. Your baby can play belly-up with toys placed to either side to encourage head turning, rolling and reaching.
There is also a concern that the Rock ‘n Play can contribute to flat head because it’s soft and thus, more difficult for baby to vary his/her neck position. Again, please speak to your pediatrician if you’re concerned about this because the jury is still out!
The new “Auto” version has a 2-speed rocking motion with plug-in cord. The noise on the motor is a little louder than you’d expect, but serves as a white noise of sorts.
*0-4 Months Only; always use the safety harness. Stop using when baby can sit up unassisted. Seat pad is machine washable and dryer safe.
I love the Rock ‘n Play so much that it made my Top 10 List of Essential Baby Items.
Get at least one of these; you will not regret it!
Next: Baby Swings