September 28, 2010 (8:49 pm)

Jumperoo Or Not?

by Kristen Suzanne

A couple of weeks back I asked my Facebook friends (parents) what they thought about using a jumperoo for their kids. The overwhelming majority loved it for their kids. But, there were a few who weren’t sure as to whether they were healthy for babies and their hips.

One friend in particular pointed me to this discussion here where a pediatric physical therapist did not like them. The contribution to the forum detailing this is a a few entries down in purple once you click the link. I’ve copied and pasted it here:

I have heard that physical therapists don’t like jumparoos and exersaucers because they place too much weight on babies legs, which aren’t supposed to be weight bearing at this point. And I guess with the crotch-support seats it wouldn’t be good on hips, either.
Do we have any physical therapists on our board?!!

I guess what I’ve heard is that babies are supposed to be in arms or on the floor as much as possible – the two best places for development at this age.

Editing to add, here’s something helpful I found from a mama on a different message board (her words, not mine, but helpful to understand what might be going on):

I worked as a pediatric physical therapist before my son was born, so this an area near and dear to my heart.

Saucers, jumpers, walkers, etc. do nothing to enhance development, and can actually delay the achievement of milestones by several weeks. Essentially, to give a quick summary, standing in a saucer is not the same as actively standing while say holding onto a couch. The muscles work in a different pattern that is less desirable. This has been backed up by EMG studies, where they read the electrical output of different muscles and look at the patterns in which they are activated. Babies in saucers tend to be pitched forward onto their toes, which isn’t a normal posture and can theoretically lead to tip toe walking down the road (an abnormal gait pattern). Their abdominal muscles aren’t activeley engaged like they would be while actively standing. Their gluteal (butt) muscles aren’t engaged the same way they would be while standing on their own. This allows them to stand with a sway-backed posture that isn’t particularly healthy.

There have been excellent twin studies showing that even in typically-developing kids, the twin that used a walker walked on average 6 weeks later than the non walker using twin. Most therapists would say this can be applied to saucer use as well. Studies have shown saucers to delay sitting, crawling and walking milestones. Many parents will say their child used a saucer and walked early, but that isn’t really a fair assessment, as their child may have walked even earlier if they *didn’t* use one.

In a typically developing kid, it is less of a concern than a child at risk of delays (preemies, low muscle tone, etc.) However, not all parents know if their child is delayed or at risk of delays either.

The recommendation of most pediatric PTs I’ve known is to limit their use entirely if you can. If you insist on using one, don’t use it for more than 20 mins a day, and be aware of how fast that time adds up (10 mins while you shower, 10 mins during a phone call, 30 mins while you make dinner, 10 mins while you clean up, 5 mins while you go to the bathroom…). It adds up more quickly than people realize. Also if the child shows any signs of fatigue (slouching over, slumping, leaning to one side) they should be removed before 20 mins total, and hopefully beforehand.

I know mamas need to shower and do things around the house…I can sympathize, believe me. Just keep in mind saucers are all marketing, and there is no real benefit to be had from your child using them. The manufacturers make parents feel like they really enhance development, when the opposite is true. The best “tool” for helping a child develop motor skills is floor time…supervised tummy time, just playing on the floor w/ your baby. If you need to contain them for safety, a playpen still allows them to practice their motor skills without getting into trouble if you are in the shower and can’t supervise, for example.

I know some people say that they only put their baby in a jumperoo for about 20 minutes a day and it’s hard to imagine much consequence with that small amount of time. That being said, I don’t think I’ll buy something that they literally use for only 20 minutes a day, especially if there are potential problems with my baby using it. However, I can empathize with how precious a 20 minute break in a day can be for a new mama. Wouldn’t a better solution be a playpen or a swing? What do you think?

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  • Lauren519

    Very interesting. I have read about the issues with these products as well, so I was weary. We had a block party last weekend and I was told a jumpy and a swing were musts. I am thinking about the swing, but the jumpy is pretty much not going to happen, especially after reading this. Thanks for all the info. :)

  • Anna@Tallgrasskitchen

    Interesting argument from both sides. Here's my take, and what I did with my two healthy boys who achieved milestones just fine (although I'm not super hung up on reading milestone charts.) We got an exersaucer and a jumper from family members who were no longer using them (so no new purchase), and only used them for a limited amount of time each day (20 minutes, probably split up into two 'sessions' is about right.) The babies both appeared to very much enjoy themselves, and it was nice in a place like the kitchen where being on the floor really isn't a good option. My 5-6 month old enjoyed a few minutes in the exersaucer each day, he played with the toys and we chatted while I prepped a meal or unloaded the dishwasher. So, it worked for us, but obviously you should do what your mommy gut tells you.

  • Deena

    My little guy Alex is just 2 weeks older than Kamea, born on June 15. We got a jumperoo unsolicited at one of our showers, and I never returned it. Alex is extremely active, already sitting up in his bumbo, scooting on his play mat, and trying to stand and walk on our laps while we hold him. He also does not care for his swing. For these reasons, we are breaking the jumperoo out this week for him to use for short intervals while I cook or empty/load the dishwasher. It’s a good compromise to allow us to get a few things done while he entertains himself, and will allow him to be his energetic self.

  • rachael

    We had an exersaucer that entertained my son while I was making dinner. He never spent long periods of time in it and it did not seem to affect his gross motor skills. I say whatever works for you and your baby is the way to go. Do you have a friend with one Kamea can try so you can see if she likes it and then decide from there?

  • Jojo

    Thank you for this post. It gives me some real food for thought. Here is my take.

    I have a two-year-old who used an exersaucer I borrowed from a friend. I basically used it in the morning to make breakfast and occasionally put her in when I had to run to the bathroom. I don't know about timing. She walked at nine months and hasn't stopped racing around since.

    It sounds like you really don't need one. You have a great hubby and live near your mom. It also sounds like Kamea is a sweet baby. My baby rolled at three months and insisted on rolling whenever I put her down. So, if I left her on a cloth, she was face-down right away and very mad. I could never leave her like that alone (playpen or not). She also screamed bloody murder if left in the swing and tried her best to wiggle out. I also had no help during the day. So, the exersaucer…..

  • Brooke

    Wow…I didn't know about any of this. Most of my friends used these for their kids. I can't say whether they walked early or not, but they seemed to enjoy themselves when they were in the jumper. However, it makes perfect sense to have your baby on the floor or in a playpen when you can't be holding him/her. I really liked this post ;-)

  • michalea

    Hallo Like I wrote before my brother is a doktor surgeon in children hospital, in my country all pediatricians don´suggest to use jumperoo actually in whole europe it is not using anymore because it can hurts kid in many way their hips etc……..So please don´t use it for your kids. yes 20 minute break is great but not when it can hurt developing of baby legs moving and everything

  • Deb

    We had a couple of the stationary exersaucers when my babies were little…they were very helpful with the twins and some fun for my singleton, though I would agree, they weren't in them too much, nor were they essential items (also got them second hand), but fun/helpful at times, for the stage they were in………would never get the kind with wheels though, they can roll down the stairs, or flip if the floor isn't even…….no problem with milestones….they loved the jumpy thing that attaches to the upper part of a doorway…just loved it….we actually thought it strengthened their legs a bit, especially our son who was treated for clubfeet. Sometimes used the stationary saucer thing while I was in the shower, but had a clear shower curtain so I could keep an eye on babe, and they were in the bathroom too…..usually showered when babe (s) were asleep, hubby was home, or when they were older, they came in the shower with me…… breaks came when they were napping…..or sleeping….now it is when they are in school!…..

  • Deb

    p.s. as infants, I used the bouncer seat(s) while I was cooking/in kitchen, and once they outgrew that, the stationary exersaucer (s) worked very well…this allowed me to prepare food and kept them occupied while being safe and near me,….we had a playpen but didn't use it too much, it was cumbersome and didn't fit well in my kitchen, or our small bathroom….didn't use the swing much…wow, I had kinda forgotten about all those things! will find what works best for you and your family, trust your instinct….you are doing great! :)

  • Pure Mothers

    I got a Graco Pack and Play to keep my baby safe while I showered. BUT, I removed the pad inside with gloves and a mask to get the MDF boards out for support (because it contains toxic flame retardants) and I bought a specially made organic cotton futon to the specs of the Pack n Play and kept the MDF boards to support it. If my baby was sleeping on an organic crib mattress and wearing organic pajamas, I didn't want him spending time in there with flame retardants. They are in everything (foam-backed high chairs, some nursing pillows – as you know – car seats. – ugh! That one is hard to avoid.

    My husband and I wanted to design latex Pack & Plays, changing pads, etc., but we moved to England it it didn't make sense for us.

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Could you share who made the custom futon for your pack n play? I was

    looking at the Baby Bjorn one with organic sheet but want to replace

    the flame retardants materials.

  • Kat

    I think that bouncers, exersaucers, etc are totally unnecessary. Every baby I've ever seen in one does seem to love them, but I don't feel they are developmentally appropriate. (Also why I don't use Bjorn or Snuggli carriers). A tummy time mat, swing, or blanket on the floor with some interesting toys on it work just as well. Some high chairs will also recline, so younger babies can rest in those with a toy and be in the kitchen with you.

  • Ashley

    I wouldn't do a jumperoo, but my kiddos definitely enjoy the excersaucer. Since they are babies, they really don't have the attention span to enjoy it for more than 5 minutes so that's what they get. I don't count on it to develop their legs, it's purely for entertainment!

  • shannonmarie

    I don't use those things, especially since they take up so much space. Without them, both my kids walked before their first birthdays. Jacob actually took his first steps at 9 months. When I need to take a shower, the pack-n-play works just as well to keep little ones in place. I set it up by the bathroom and let Hayden play in there. That's also where she learned to pull up quite early, too.

  • Lisa Clark

    Maybe ask next time you are at the doctor with Kamea on their opinions on it? I am always skeptical of things I find online… Who knows…

  • Suzi

    I am an early childhood special educator and child development specialist. I have been told by physical therapists that saucers, jumpers, etc are bad for baby because they can cause tiny hairline fractures in the hips (before they can stand on their own). If you are looking for something for Kamea to be entertained on her own, the playpen is great with a couple of toys. This is good for her cognitive and motor development. When she is with you, the best thing to do is interact with her and play social games. e

    I am 5 months pregnant and do not plan to get any of that stuff. We'll see what the baby is like, of course, but I plan on using the playpen for times that I need to put him down in a safe spot.

    Thanks for all of your thoughtful posts! They are so informative for a first time mom!

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Thank you for sharing that.

  • Anne Gill

    Unless your doctor is a Developmental Pediatrician, I would ask a local Physical or Occupational Therapist instead. As a pediatric occupational therapist, I would not recommend the Jumperoo, a walker or any similar product (including entertaining stations) for all the reasons the PT mentioned above in the article. Parents may think that they are helping to speed up development, but the truth is, a baby needs to spend plenty of time in each phase, otherwise problems can develop at a later stage. Crawling is a critical stage in a baby's development.

  • Anne Kaplan

    Weren't you planning on practicing attachment parenting? I don't believe that Jumperoos etc. are good for kids. First of all, they are almost too overstimulating. Teach your baby healthy nap and sleep schedules, and you'll find time for yourself (but a mom can never expect to have tons of me time when there is a new baby in the home. That's just the way it is!)

  • Anne Kaplan

    Also – isn't this a “Green” Mommy blog?? Jumperoos are giant wastes of plastic that end up in landfills, and worse, not the best developmentally for babies.

  • Kristen Suzanne

    I'm not sure what the laws are for attachment parenting but I'm sure

    we will follow some of the principles naturally.

    I think some parents like the jumperoo because it gives them a little

    time to get stuff done but I also think some like it because they see

    their baby loving it. Right now, for me, when kamea naps I try to nap

    with her. Number 1) she sleeps better and longer when I do and 2) I'm

    still sooooo tired and need more sleep. We don't plan on getting the

    jumperoo or exersaucer.

  • Kristen Suzanne

    My blog is about green and mommy things. They don't always have to be

    in the same post.

  • Kristen Suzanne

    I'd also like to point out that, while I agree a lot of things like this are bad for the environment, many mommies get these as hand me downs so they're not purchasing something new. Moreover, unfortunately, there aren't green options available for many baby/child related things (yet)… even if this particular item didn't have the issue of whether it's “healthy” for a baby's development and someone wanted something like that. And, some of the things that are available “green”, they're super pricey. Not everyone can afford them. I hope that changes and more companies see the need for eco friendly baby/child development toys and furniture.

  • Anonymous

    But that's just it – we are conditioned by advertisers to think that we need sooo many things for babies, when really we just don't need that much at all. Babies grew up without Jumperoos and strollers and all the doodads that we think we need today. When we go back to basics, I believe our babies benefit.

  • Kristen Suzanne

    I agree to a degree – lol. Some technology has helped as we've learned

    and some has not.

  • Claudia Stelmach

    My husband (who is a chiropractor) and I decided to pass on things like walkers and jumperoos since they are not ideal for the baby's skeletal anatomy which is still developing and can not support the baby's own weight yet. It was great to have carpert around the house so they could start to crawl, I used the pack and play a lot and I very much agree with you that we tend to pass down things like this to other people, in the case of my sisters and sisters-in-law we just keep passing and taking back things and keep reusing strollers, pack-n-play, etc.

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Thanks for sharing. :)

  • Tricia Rawks

    I'm glad you wrote about this. I have been wondering if we should get one of those things for my son. He is really needy right now; sometimes we can hardly get anything done. But money is tight, and I'd rather spend it on something that lasts longer and is more beneficial (like organic baby food instead!) With some baby and kid things I have realized that it is easy to take the simple things for granted and rely too much on all the gadgets. I'm going to have to buy “Babies” the movie. When I saw it in the theater, I thought- Wow! Some babies are literally crawling around in the mud all day and somehow still survive. Maybe I will try to keep things simple. So that is what I do.

  • Lauren M

    I've definitely read that walkers are out, and saucers too, because they cause the child to want to walk on their balls/toes of the foot instead of heal/toe. My MIL argued with me that she and other women of the same age group know that all children try walking on their toes first. Well, doctors will disagree and point out that walker/jumper use is what does this and if kids are simply left to crawl and cruise on their own they'd stand flat footed and walk heal to toe.

  • Gene

    My wife and I believe that the Jumperoo is amongst the 4 or 5 best toys we have bought for our baby. Our baby has so many toys that sit neglected after a few days of play. Babies get bored with toys quickly. However, he has had his Jumperoo since 4 months and is now nearly 1.5 years old. Yes, he only jumps 10 or 20 minutes a day. But there are very few days that go by that he does not ask to go into his Jumperoo. He loves it! Also, he started to walk at 9 months and walked freely (without holding on) at 11 months. I sincerely doubt he would have walked much earlier in any condition. He walks fine, sees his pediatrician frequently and she is very happy with his development.

    We work hard to find toys that are both development for our baby and fun for him. There are only a handful that pass his inspection. The Jumperoo is one of the few he truly loves and is probably the only toy that he has used continuously for most of his short life. It would have been a pity for him to miss out this pleasure because of some unnecessary worries.

  • heatherP

    I know I’m a bit late with this comment, but it’s never too late to add your two cents.

    I started to have issues with my neck when I was in middle school and it wasn’t until my mid twenties that I finally got some insight and started to head down a path off correction. I’m going to spare all the little details and just get straight to some of the theories I have heard from Doctors over the years.

    My neck developed without the normal curvature. Some doctors have theories that this happens when babies are not given the opportunity to lay on the ground and lift their heads, when they are placed in bouncy seats, saucers or swings and not given the chance to crawl around letting their bellies hang and lifting their head to look up, all the natural movements that help develop the proper curves in our spine and muscle development of our entire body. I actually heard from doctors that they are seeing more patients with straight spines then in the past.

    So I asked my parents if they used any type of walker or saucer and they said yes all the time they were so busy with work and all my siblings that it was easier to put us in these items then worry about us rolling around and getting into things.

    Now when I’m at my friends homes and see them using or over using these types of items I cringe and pray that these children will not have any development issues as I have.

    I’m extremely glad you won’t be using any of these items, you are just like my sister..a hands on mommy, babies are meant to be held 

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Thank you for chiming in. Your 2 cents is welcomed and appreciated….

    whether late or not. ;)

  • Nikita Borisov

    There seems to be a lot of research showing that walkers can be harmful to children, both in terms of development and in terms of direct injuries. I'm not sure how easily the conclusion can be applied to jumpers, though.

  • Mama44God

    My 4th child , near 6 months age . Is suffering from muscle strain ! I cant begin to tell you how sad this makes me. He is in the high ninety % for height & weight . Can place both feet on the floor FLAT ! Used it while cooking dinner . I used it with my previous 3 ( one who is a toe walker ) So disappointed with myself for getting caught in the hype and use of my hands, but not further researching . My Jumperoo will be in the GARBAGE !!!! Where it belongs

  • Sunsetknight

    Our daughter was born with a rough case of reflux. They are not to be laid down as sooner than 30 minutes after they eat. Laying a reflux child on their tummies is not an option either as they scream in pain, the screaming causes another reflux attack, and the vicious cylce begins. Other than the swing, which our daughter out grew at 4 months, there is nothing else but exersaucers/walkers/etc that we can place her in after she eats. For the longest time we'd sit with her after a bottle, but once she got active, that was not an option for her. If we can't place our little ones in these devices, what are we to do? Surely we can't use these as babysitters or leave them in for hours at a time, but for such circumstances, what other options do we have?

  • Kristen Suzanne

    I'm not sure. I've used an incline chair rocker for Kamea sometimes when I'm in the kitchen (I've blogged about it in my Postpartum Must Haves). I've heard it's good for babies like yours though.

  • jenrose

    We got one for my son because he was already standing, leaning against my body, and bouncing up and down digging his toes into my thigh, which is painful. I put him i the jumperoo for short periods, he adores it and seems delighted by it. He’s 4.75 months old and already rolling, pulling up to a sit with help (no head lag), and favors standing any time he can get someone to help him do it.