Are Exersaucers and Jumpers Bad for My Baby's Development?

Updated on November 01, 2011
L.B. asks from Portland, OR
13 answers

The day AFTER my mother-in-law bought a jumparoo and a co-worker gave me an exersaucer and my husband ordered a jumper for the door frame I took my son to his 4 month well check where my pediatrician proceeded to tell me that all of those items were bad for my son's development. Good timing!

So now I'm trying to figure out if there's ANY good reason to keep these things since I'm now hesitant to put him in them for even a little bit. I was put in a walker when I was little-most of us were-and it didn't seem to do any major damage but I think we know a lot more about child development 30 years later so what's your opinion? I would also like some actual pediatric advice on the subject if you've read it anywhere. I have searched the internet and found only a few good answers.

So should I keep all these things around and use them in moderation or just get rid of the lot? I do many activities when I'm home with my son during the day: tummy time, reading books, putting him on his back on the play mat with things for him to grab, sitting in his bebe pod (like a bumbo seat), going on walks in the stroller, singing, dancing...I feel like I'm running out of things to do!

What are your thoughts about these "toys" and what are some ideas of things to do with my son besides those things?

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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone for your great responses. The general consensus seems to be "moderation" which is what my common sense told me in the first place. I do value my pediatrician's opinion and that of those of you who urged against using these things. However, I also value my sanity since that is what will be the best tool for raising my son. If that means he goes in the jumper for 10 minutes, then so be it.

More Answers


answers from Portland on

If you think of these "toys" as just that, toys and entertainment, than you will be fine. If you think of them as tools to help baby learn to walk, you've got another thing coming. Babies left in walkers for LONG periods of time (hours) learn to rely on the machine, not on themselves. They also have a tendency to fall down the stairs (in the unit)so please monitor and becareful. My son loves his jumperoo, is very clear about when he wants to be in it, and when he doesn't. Sometimes he is in it for my sanity. It is more entertaining than his crib when I need him in a safe place so I can do something dangerous (like unload the dishwasher, or put something in the car). Personally, I think these items are an extention of the baby play mat. What is the difference between the play mat and a blanket? Some toys, some colors, and about $15. What is the difference between a jumperoo and you? A bad back, tired legs, some toys, and the ability for you to throw in a load of laundry. Like most things in life, moderation is key. You'll be fine. You're doing a great job so far! Good Luck and Have fun

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answers from Portland on

Hi L.,

I can talk to you about the jumper, since I've never used an exercauser. According to my pediatrician and my son's physical therapist, the jumper is not a good idea until your son has been crawling for at least a month (or so). It's very important for your son's development that he crawl. (There is a lot of research you can find on this, and differing opinions. But not crawling is linked to later learning abilities, specifically in reading and writing, and things such as difficulties learning to ride a bike.) The issue with the jumper, or a walker, or having baby stand and walk with mom and dad's help everywhere and often, is that they develop their standing muscles before their crawling muscles. Because the standing/walking muscles are bigger, they activate those when learning to crawl and often either don't crawl, or do it "incorrectly". Specficially, the cross-crawl is important for development.

I learned so much in physical therapy. We had an excellent pediatric therapist and I trust her completely. She knows her stuff. We had to make great effort not to stand Rowan up on our laps all the time and help him walk before his time. It's very natural for parents, grandparents, etc. to push for the walking. But really, we should push for the crawling and once that's well underway, walking will come and we can help! You won't miss out on anything, you'll just put it off for a while! Once my son was crawling, we put him in the jumper and he loved it. Also, FYI, we had a walker and as long as my son couldn't touch the ground and push up (which would develop those standing muscles) we could put him in it and he loved just sitting in it, and playing with the toys. Another great tool for sitting is the bumpo seat (which you're using). It helps them to develop their sitting muscles and head control.

In regards to activities, it sounds like you are doing great things! Tummy time for sure. Be assured your son is learning so much from you! The only suggestion I could give would you have a baby carrier? Your son will learn a ton from going around with you while you work in the kitchen, or switch the laundry, etc. Also, baby/mom groups a couple times a week can really break the day up. I was also recently given a great suggestion to use grocery outings as a chance for an activity with my son. Rather than feeling pressured to shop, I can use the store as a way to teach him about foods, etc. Let him touch, feel, etc.

Your baby will be up and moving in no time and then things get really interesting! Enjoy this non-mobile time now! ;)

Take care,

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answers from Portland on

I used both of these items in moderation. I don't feel that it hurt my sons development AT ALL. He still sat, crawled and walked at totally normal times. I am an attachment parent, who held my son in a carrier most of the time. However, one can't ALWAYS hold a child, so it's nice to have some alternatives for a few minutes here and there (including lots of floor time). My son hated being in a playpen, so for us the jumper and walker were a good choice.

I have done some research on crawling and I came up with a different answer. There are many native tribal people that never allow their children to crawl (biting ants, cliffs, etc) and they all end up fine. What is most important is self-led exploration. Your child needs to be on the floor or near objects learning how to do things by themselves.

My son only used these kinds of items for maybe 10 minutes a day (for 4-5 months). It's all about moderation. I think variety is fine.

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answers from Portland on

My son loved his jumparoo and exersaucer, I put him in it 1-2 times per day for 15-20 minutes. It gave me time to get some 2-handed chores done and gave him some time on his own. I think it is important to balance their activities through the day and not leave them in their jumpers for long periods of time.

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answers from Portland on

I think they really can only be bad for development if you're leaving him in there for a long period of time. I've really valued having an exersaucer for my mobile babies while I'm in the shower or cooking dinner because it gives them something to do while keeping them contained. It helps me resist the temptation of setting them in front of a TV.

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answers from Portland on

You have great perspectives from other moms below. We used both with my daughter, in moderation, following manufacturer guidelines for physical readiness. This may be what your ped is referring to - you don't want the baby in either one too early; and the exersaucer has specific instructions on how much their feet should touch. Based on the activities you are discussing, and considering his age...he may be a bit young still. I don't recall since my daughter is now 4 years old.

Also, since it is your ped that raised the concerns you have, I would ask him/her to clearly and specifically explain why these items are "bad for your son's development." That will be a big help - there's no reason you cannot call his/her office and leave a message with your question and request s/he call you back.

We had no issues using the exersaucer and jumperoo, both of which she loved and both of which were used among many other daily activities. We also put her in her pack-n-play with toys so she could play alone and get used to doing so at a young age (starting with 5 minutes alone, building up to where she would happily be in there for 20 minutes, and as she got older there were days she was playing so nicely that I didn't want to disturb her, and when I looked at the clock, 45 mins had passed)! That was a great break for me!

Hope that helps. :)

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answers from Portland on

Only if that is all he gets!!! If you play with him/talk/interact... and all that other stuff he should be just fine..The jumpers are great for leg strength.. and mommy's sanity. Just use them sparingly. My son is doing great in all areas and he has ALL OF THEM.. but along with us playing with him..etc.

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answers from Portland on

I used the excersaucer for times when I needed him near but, didn't want to drag the play yard around the house. Like when I was baking, didn't want any burns and the kitchen was too small for play yard. When I was taking a shower if he wasn't in the bathroom with me he screamed. Both my boys didn't spend a lot of time in it but, they loved the time that they did spend.

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answers from Portland on

My trio just had their EI appt. (early intervention) both the Doc and therapists do NOT recommend them for more than 20 min a day. They say tummy time is way better for building muscles and learning to balance/crawl/walk.

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answers from Grand Rapids on

I was wondering too so I asked my best friend's dad who is a DO. He said that a child should not be allowed to put weight on their legs until they are 8 months. The growth centers in their hips are not capable of supporting their weight eventhough their legs are strong enough to allow them to do so. So while it is deceiving that baby is strong enough, you could potentially harm these growth centers, causing permanent damage. I guess I will just use the bouncy for another few months until my son hits 8 months. But by then he will probably be moving and won't want the exersaucer. But the important thing is that it is not just the exersaucer. It is manually standing the baby up and letting him put pressure on his feet too. So he said to discourage family and babysitters from doing this also.



answers from Portland on


I would start by asking the pediatrician his/her reasons why he is against these items. I do believe in moderation being the key and it certainly sounds like you would use these as supplements rather than babysitting devices. Like you, I did a lot of activities with my daughter. I then used the jumper and the exersaucer for a short stint each day. She loved them soooo much! She learned new things with them including a little bit of independence from mama. My daughter wanted to be held and carried all of the time so I made good use of my Ergo. Sometimes I wonder if we are going to be hearing negative things about baby carriers one of these days, too.

Keep up the excellent work, mama, and I say go for those short stints using the jumper and exersaucer if you and your baby enjoy them.



answers from Portland on

In my infant/child development course I learned that the reason jumpers and walkers and exersaucers are not good for development are because:
1) They interfere with natural hip growth and development.
2) They are not developmentally appropriate because they put babies into positions that they cannot get into and out of themselves.
If you do decide to use one of the items, it is recommended to not use it for more than 20 minutes a day.
The same applies to tummy time, no more than 20 minutes a day.
Babies are genetically wired to develop muscle mass and physical motor skills naturally without any help from contraptions or techniques such as tummy time:) The study I read for class indicated that the tummy time technique had no impact on the speed of physical development whatsoever.
All the things you listed that you are doing sound wonderful, and I am sure your baby loves all of it and loves it when you repeat those things.
Have you asked your own doctor to exlpain why the jumpers would be bad for baby? That would be the best place to start:)
Enjoy your bundle:)



answers from Portland on

I suggest that this on another of those ideas which change "with the wind." Previously specialists said to use them. Now a few specialists say not to use them. I've yet heard a logical reason for not using them. My generation grew up with walkers and jumpers. We did learn that walkers were dangerous because they allowed baby to go to unsafe places. They also easily tipped over. So now we have exersaucers complete with learning toys. Those who've studied this have not discovered any damage done to children who have used these products in moderations.

I would want much more scientific information in which they demonstrated actual damage caused by these products before I'd consider not using them.

Did your pediatrician give you any information about why they are bad for your son's development.

I have heard for years that crawling is necessary for the development of other aspects of our body and mind. Using these products does not prevent a baby from learning to crawl.

I also know several intelligent, successful people who did not crawl. There are too many variables to be able to say with any kind of certainty that one thing interferes with development.

My "soapbox" message also includes why are we as a society so focused on the "correct" way to care for a baby? Each baby is different and will respond in different ways to the same thing. Yes, it's good to try new things. Research has made our life easier and more understandable. But we do not need to adhere to the "law of the experts." Parents' love and intuition is just as important.

Here's an example: Mother doesn't use exersaucer. Doctor told her no. So what does she do with baby while she takes a bath. Is it better to leave him in his play yard screaming than to put him in his exersaucer. Scientists focus on just one aspect in their research. It seems apparent to me that when "they" decided to ban exersaucers they were not concerned about how this item benefitted mother and baby in other ways that may be more important.

I have not heard of a child having developmental difficulties as the result of limited time in the exersaucer or jumper. I have heard of children screaming and mothers crying in frustration or even abusing their baby because they didn't know what to do. They've been told so many you have to do this and never do this that they have no where to go to just be mother loving baby doing what works for them. What has happened to common sense?

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