With so many baby bouncers on the market, it's often hard to know which ones really offer bang for your buck. Is electronic the best or should you get a bouncer that’s baby-activated? How loud are they and how much space will you need to use and store them? We set out to answer all these questions (and more).
After weeks of trawling through Mumsnet Talk forums, highest-rated and best-selling lists, we ended up with 10 bouncers and rockers at a range of price points to put through our robust real-life testing.
Our tester was encouraged to be as heavy handed as possible with the bouncers, putting them through a range of situations that could quite easily occur in everyday life. She dropped them on the floor, washed them umpteen times, and rated them on how well they entertained and soothed her baby.
Which bouncers did you test?
Fisher Price Kick 'n Play Musical Bouncer: Mumsnet Best Baby Bouncer
BabyBjörn Bouncer Bliss: Best Baby Bouncer for Style
Nuna Leaf Grow: Best Luxury Baby Bouncer
Skip Hop Uplift: Best Baby Bouncer for Innovation
Red Kite Cozy Bounce: Best Budget Baby Bouncer
Stokke Steps Bouncer
Chicco Balloon Bouncer
Joie Baby Two in One
Mamas and Papas Wave Rocker
Fisher Price Woodland Baby Bouncer
Who tested the product?
Our tester, a first-time mother, started testing the bouncers when her son was nine months old and “borrowed” a friend's newborn during (some of) the testing process. The rationale: some bouncers are suitable from birth until six months, so we wanted to make sure we tested the products for the really wee ones as well as the slightly bigger little ones.
How did you test for day to day usage?
We looked at how comfortable the babies were in the bouncers and how well the features entertained and calmed a fractious child. If there were lots of extra features then we assessed whether they offered value for money or were unnecessary extras.
We looked at how easy it was to assemble the bouncers – did you need a screwdriver and a masters degree in engineering to put the thing together? Conversely, we looked at how easy it was to disassemble. Can it be stored flat with the touch of a button or will you need to break the entire thing down every time?
Weight was also a factor. Bouncers are at their most helpful when you can bring them around the house with you so you can get on with your day-to-day business with your bouncing baby in sight. The heavier they are, the harder they are to place under one arm with your baby under the other. If the bouncer is electric, then it needs to be plugged into the mains and that can obviously restrict you.
Durability is equally important. Bouncers are designed to be…er…bounced in… so they need to be sturdy and safe. Our tester dropped the bouncers on the floor 20 times and put all her strength into pushing them over to see how sturdy they were.
Keeping bouncers clean is not always easy. Surprisingly, they aren't all machine washable but often a wipe down will get the job done. Our tester put the washing machine-friendly ones through the wash 20 times to see if they kept their shape and colour. The others were washed by hand the same amount of times to see if everyday stains could be removed. Our tester also marked the bouncers down if toy bars couldn't be cleaned easily.
How did you test for bounce?
To really test the bouncing motion, we substituted a baby for a bag of flour and pushed them as hard as we could. In part, this was to test the bouncer’s safety but also we did it to test how the bouncer would fare when a baby at the upper age limit went to town on it.
How did you test for safety?
The first thing our tester looked at was the safety harness and how sturdy it felt. She fastened the harness mid-temper tantrum to see how easy it was to catch skin or fingers in the clips. She also applied pressure to the stand to see if it could withstand a lot of force.
How did you test extra features?
Most of the best bouncers we tested had the multi-function aspect of being able to help your baby nap and entertain them with music or a toy bar. Our tester played the music on repeat to see how long the batteries lasted and assessed the sound quality. She also scored the product on how well the babies reacted to the features over the testing period. Did they soothe and stimulate when needed?
How did you measure value for money?
This is one of the advantages of having one tester. We are able to make like-for-like comparisons and reduce the number of variables in the testing process. All the bouncers were scored based on the same criteria by the same person with the same child. Our tester was then able to comment on which bouncers offered the best value for money irrespective of price. The budget bouncer was judged just as harshly as the luxury one.
In all of our testing we are on a mission to find the best products for most parents. When it comes to value for money we take into account the cost of the product as well as how long you will be using it for.
While testing baby bouncers we were impressed by the extended lifespan of the luxury options but ultimately we felt that it's the first six months of your baby's life where you'll really feel the benefit of a bouncer. For that reason, we chose the Fisher Price Kick and Bounce as the overall winner.
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