Long before babies can walk or even crawl, they can jump -- with the help of a jumper, that is. Whether it's in a stationary, spring-loaded play center such as the ExerSaucer or those Bungee-cord style seats that hang from a door frame, it's fun to watch baby bounce around, and it's clear he's having a blast!
But before you put your baby in a jumper and let them play, there's a lot doctors want moms to know.
For starters, make sure your child is ready to jump!
"Most infants are ready around age 4 to 6 months," says Bridget Boyd, MD, a pediatric safety expert and director of the newborn nursery at Loyola University Health System. "A child must have good head control and be able to support the trunk prior to use." Also make sure your baby is the right size to fit comfortably in the equipment: if baby's legs dangle above the floor or are so long they can't straighten up, he's either too small or too large for the jumper.
Next, choose your jumper model wisely. "It is not considered safe to place your child in doorway jumpers that suspend the seat from a doorway," warns Deena Blanchard, MD, a pediatrician at Premier Pediatrics NY.
One concern is that the straps or clamps on door jumpers can break and the baby can fall; there have been recalls on doorway jumpers due to this defect. Second, stronger babies have bounced so hard that they've ended up hitting the sides of the doorways with their heads. Ouch!
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If you're looking to mix it up a little and add some bouncing or upright time into your baby’s life, the safest way is to buy a stationary activity center where an enclosed seat is suspended on enclosed springs. But even then, parents should proceed with caution.
"As a pediatrician I tell parents they are okay in moderation, meaning 20 minutes per day, and not all at once, with supervision," says Harry Broome, MD, a physician from MVP Kids Care.
"Because babies tend to jump forcefully in these things, they do not learn slow controlled movements needed for walking," Dr. Broome explains. "Some research has been done that shows prolonged use actually delays walking. Some pediatricians also believe jumpers cause babies to learn a tip-toe pattern of movement, which leads to tip-toe walking."
Bottom line: As with most things in life, moderation is the key. Jumpers are not silent killers, but they also won't help babies to walk and could cause delays in that department. Still, as long as you keep bouncing to a minimum and check the safety of your jumper, it's fine to let your baby have a ball!
Did your baby love the jumper?
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