It’s always fun and happy to watch your baby grow up. The first few months, he can only lay on the bed, looking around, maybe moving his head left and right a little bit to see the light.
Then he learns to flip himself over. You smile and you laugh when he tries to pull his arm out from his belly. You cheer for him when he succeeds.
Next, he learns to use his arms to turn himself in a circle, maybe starts to crawl too.
Before you know it, he sits up and tries to crawl all over the floor.
As you watch your baby develop, you notice that you have to be more careful around the house now, your worry also gets bigger. As he can do more things, he can reach and touch dangerous things, like a plug, a switch or the fan, you have to be extra careful and foresee all the dangers that can happen.
It is tiring when you have to be cautious and awake 100% of the time.
You want some quality time some time, like to use the bathroom or take a quick shower in peace, but it is nearly impossible.
Then you’ve heard of an exersaucer. Looks like it can give you the break that you desperately need.
However, before jumping in buying one right away, the golden question is, at what age can a baby use an exersaucer and is an exersaucer good for you baby?
In this article, we will find out just that.
Let’s dive in.
At what age can a baby use an exersaucer?
I know you are exhausted (make sure you check out some of my less than 5-minute self-care tips) and you want to crash on the couch for a few minutes without worrying about your baby getting hurt.
But unfortunately, you cannot introduce exersaucers to your baby at any age. Many parents let their babies use the exersaucers when they are too young.
However, if you know how to gradually introduce the exersaucer to your baby, it can be a great toy that can help babies to develop their skills.
Know that every baby is different (my son Ethan didn’t flip until he was 5 months old while his cousin could sit on her own at the same age!), so instead of introducing the exersaucer to your baby based on the age, you have to use his own development stage as a measurement.
When he can sit on his own with a little support - generally from 4 to 6 months
By little support, I mean when he can sit while putting one hand or both of his hands on the floor.
Let him sit close to the exersaucer on the floor and detach the toys that come with it and let your baby play with them. Your baby can get used to the supported sitting before using the exersaucer.
Your little one will eventually become accustomed to seeing and having the toys around so that it will not be too difficult to place him on the exersaucer.
Make sure you are close to your baby all the time, in case of his stumbling hands or he gets tired and cannot sit anymore.
When your baby can sit without support - generally from 6 to 9 months
Sitting without support is when your little one can sit straight without putting his hands on the floor. And he is comfortable sitting with his back straight.
Pay attention to your baby’s postures. If he sits with his back curved, then it’s not the right position, it can badly impact on his back and his spine.
If your baby sits comfortably without support, you can introduce him to the exersaucers and its toys by putting him on it.
When your baby gets older - generally after 9 months
At this point, your baby will start to stand on his own. Sometimes he doesn’t even notice he is standing.
The longer he stands playing with the attached toys, the stronger he gets. He learns the basic posture to stand and move on his own. And as a mom, you play a critical role in his development.
Don’t think that at this point, you can just dump your child on the exersaucer and do whatever you want. No, your baby needs much support from you. Keep an eye on him and make sure there is no bouncing, jumping or leaning that can cause imbalance and make him fall.
Get down on his eye level and read to him, talk to him, and play with him while he is in the exersaucer. The extra stimulation is very helpful for his development.
The benefits exersaucers bring to your baby and to you
The most obvious benefit that exersaucers bring to parents is some quick moment to take a bath, eat or use the toilet in peace without worrying your baby bumps his head.
But exersaucers, if used properly, can bring many benefits to your little one too.
It’s fun for babies
With many toys attached to it, some are musical toys, some have lights and bright colors, the exersaucers entertain your baby while helping him achieve important developmental milestones, such as pushing the button, spinning and rolling the toys, rocking and bouncing himself in his stationary play structure.
It provides some support to encourage your baby to stand
Babies will try to stand up to reach for the toys, just to get their hands to everything. The more they do that, the stronger they get.
Exersaucers, attached with many fun toys, create great motivation for babies to work on their muscles.
The argument about exersaucers
Exersaucers appear to be a safer alternative to baby walkers, however, there are still arguments about their presence. So what can an exersaucer do bad to your baby?
Without baby walkers or exersaucers, your baby will spend most of his time crawling on the floor. It’s completely normal and it’s ok.
However, with an exersaucer, babies are encouraged to stand even when he is not really ready for it. This can cause weak knees, toe-walking, etc.
Poor sense of balance control.
Babies who spend too much time in the exersaucer end up in the position where their center remains forward, interfering with their development of balance.
Have you ever put your baby in the exersaucer and off to do something else, didn't come back until he cries for your attention?
Yes we all have done it. More often than we should. But babies need that human interaction more than anything else in the first year of life.
Risk of overuse.
Remember the time you set your baby in an exersaucer, set out to do something else and, next thing you know, it’s been 45 minutes or more?
Not only is it easy to lose track of time while the baby is in there, but it’s also easy to justify their being in the saucer for a long time. Once you start to use it often, it becomes your first thing to go for rather than your last.
All tips to allow a safe and fun playtime with exersaucers
Don’t use an exersaucer if the baby’s feet don’t reach the base or the floor underneath it.
Babies should not dangle from the sling as this could be detrimental to their hips and babies should not bear weight through their toes because they are unable to get their feet flat on the floor.
While babies will naturally go up onto their toes while cruising around furniture, weight-bearing through their toes for long periods of time can put undue pressure on the ligaments and muscles of the feet and cause problems down the road.
If your baby’s feet don’t quite reach the floor on the lowest setting, place a thick hard mattress under his feet so he can put his feet down flat.
Don’t leave babies unattended in exersaucers.
Babies can wiggle themselves out of any contraption in the blink of an eye.
Don’t leave babies in exersaucers for longer than twenty minutes at a time.
Babies should not be stationary for too long. During alert, play time, babies should be getting as much free movement as possible, not limited to one position.
Reduce the rocking a baby can perform while in the saucer by using stabilizing legs provided.
Exersaucers give babies the opportunity to bounce and rock, putting a smile on their faces.
However, for heavier babies, sometimes this can cause imbalance and flip the saucer over.
What's more, this rocking can carry over to other contexts where it is unsafe or uncalled for (e.g., sitting on the floor and tipping backward, sitting in baby bath and tipping forward, sitting in a high chair).
If your baby is learning to stand while holding on to a chest-high level, spend time to play with him while he’s standing and holding onto the outside of the saucer.
Kind of like using a baby play table. Of course, you’ll need to closely supervise him to ensure he doesn’t lose his balance.
But this is a great way to still play with the fun toys while practicing a new motor skill he can’t do if he’s actually in the saucer.
Give your baby plenty of time to play on the floor during the day.
Motor skills develop from experience and practice, and the best place for babies to get this practice is on the floor. That's why we call babies as floor babies, also the reason people invented clothes for babies so that they mop the floor while playing too!
They need time on their tummy, back, both sides, sitting on their bottom, and rocking on hands and knees in order to build skills toward rolling, crawling, and walking.
There you’ve got it. All the good side, bad side and tips how to use exersaucers safely for your little one. Remember that you can not introduce an exersaucer way too early, it is all about the right timing and right way.
If used properly, an exersaucer will bring many benefits to your baby, help him to learn and develop his motor skills while allowing you to have a short break.
If you decide to go for it, do let me know how things go with you in the comment.