Your baby needs a safe place to play, sleep or just relax and watch the world around him during the day, while still remaining close by. A bouncer provides this kind of convenience, but your baby's safety depends on you. Know what to look for in a bouncer, and how to properly use it, so you can avoid accidents and prevent injuries.
Close to 2,000 babies suffer injuries every year from bouncer seats, according to an April 2007 article on the Consumer Reports web site. Defective parts lead to some of these injuries, but you can help keep your child safe by following some basic safety guidelines.
Whether you're buying a brand new bouncer or getting one second-hand, carefully inspect it to make sure your baby will be safe. Avoid bouncers with sharp edges and parts that are broken or damaged. Test the bouncer to make sure it isn't prone to tipping. Wider bases or rear supports provide greater stability. Look for nonskid pads on the bottom of the bouncer so that it won't slide on the floor. Toy bars and toys should be firmly attached to the bouncer.
Where to Use
Always keep the bouncer on the floor. Your baby's rocking motion could send it off the edge of an elevated surface such as a counter or table. Soft surfaces like cushions or pillows could lead to suffocation if the bouncer tips over, so avoid placing it on these as well.
How to Use
Use the safety harness at all times to keep your baby from falling out of the bouncer. Even if she is asleep, sudden noises could startle her awake and cause her to squirm around, risking a fall if she is not secured. Take your baby out of the bouncer any time you move it. Do not use the handle or toy bar to carry the bouncer when your child is in it, since these parts could break or detach. Always watch your child when she is in the bouncer. Never use the bouncer as a car seat.
When to Stop
Pay close attention to the weight limits specified for your bouncer. Once your baby exceeds the upper weight limit, generally in the range of 8.16 to 13.6 Kilogram, do not put him in it. The added weight could cause the bouncer to tip at this point. You should also stop using the bouncer when your baby sits unassisted, even if he has not reached the upper weight limit.
Limit the amount of time your baby spends in the bouncer to about 30 minutes. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that too much time in a bouncer could lead to flattened head syndrome, which causes a flat spot to develop on the side or back of a baby's head. This deformity can last throughout the baby's life, so prevention is important.