Updated February 2019
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 upload a pic to Instagram (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 One. 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 ($175!!) or the Boppy Newborn Lounger ($29). 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.
Starting with the basics…
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.
You can buy a simple bouncer that sits on the floor for about $25, though these are losing in popularity to off-the-floor loungers like the Rock ‘n Play.
For a simple bouncer, look no further than ~
$ — Fisher-Price Baby Bouncer Geo Meadow ~$20
There’s no need to pay $75 for a simple bouncer (unless you really want to). Our favorite regular ‘ol bouncer is the Fisher-Price Baby Bouncer.
At only $20, this highly-rated bouncer is inexpensive, lightweight (read: easy to move from room to room), non-ugly, and gets the job done. Reviewers love that baby feels cozy and snug, while his own movements jiggle the bouncer. For extra stimulation, you can turn on calming vibrations, and baby can kick and bat at the animals on the toy bar.
$ — Fisher-Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker ~$44 ($30 on sale)
Also in the “wow, that’s cheap!” category is this rocker seat. This particular contraption grows with your child, meaning you can continue to use it into the toddler years (huge bonus, as most of these seats are only meant to be used for 0-6 months). This Infant-to-Toddler Rocker has two recline positions — one more conducive to snoozing, and the other meant for playtime and eating — as well as a removable bar with toys for baby to bat at (remove this for toddlers). Who doesn’t love “calming vibrations”….
$ — Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play ~ $59 ($38 on sale)
Move over floor bouncers, because the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play — everyone’s go-to baby lounger — has totally taken over the world of “baby containment” devices. Ask any new parent what their must-have baby lounger is, and most likely, they’ll say the Rock ‘n Play.
But there are a few caveats to note, so read carefully…
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 a play mat. Your baby can play belly-up with toys placed to either side to encourage head turning, rolling and reaching.
Some think 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 “Auto” version ($79) has a 2-speed rocking motion with plug-in cord. The noise on the motor is a little louder than you’d expect, but also 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!
Fancy Baby Bouncers
If you have some more money to spend — or if you have a rich aunt who will buy it from your registry — there are some higher-end bouncers out there that are well-liked — and great looking. These are all in the $200 territory.
Here are the three that we recommend:
1. BabyBjorn Bouncer Balance ~ $199
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. Again, people are nuts over this one; it’s very highly rated.
2. Bloom Coco Loungers ~ $180 – $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.
3. Nuna Leaf Grow ~ $289
The sleek Nuna Leaf Grow is unique in that it can be used from infancy to preschool and beyond (up to 132 lbs!). Yes, they even have a GIANT adult version we get to play with at every baby show.
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 Grow continues for about two minutes unassisted with a mere push. If you have the money, you gonna love the Leaf Grow.
I just have to say, if you have $290 to drop on a baby seat, you’re a baller!
Stay with me, people —
Next is Baby Swings