With so many baby bouncers on the market, it can be hard to know which ones offer real bang for your buck.
Is electronic the best or should you get a bouncer that’s baby-activated? How loud is it and how much space will you need to use and store it? We set out to answer all these questions and more.
After weeks of trawling through the Mumsnet forums, online bestseller lists and expert review sites, we ended up with 10 bouncers and rockers at a range of price points to put through our robust testing process.
Our tester, Luci, 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 Infant-to-Toddler Rocker
- Tiny Love 3-in-1 Rocker Napper
- Joie Serina 2-in-1 Swing
- BabyBjörn Bouncer Bliss
- Chad Valley Jungle Friends Bouncer
- Nuna Leaf Grow
- Chicco Hooplà Baby Bouncer
- Red Kite Cozy Bounce
- 4Moms mamaRoo Rocker
- Fisher Price Take-Along Swing and Seat
Who tested the products?
Luci, a mum of two, started testing the bouncers when her youngest was just two weeks old. The rationale: some bouncers are suitable from birth, so we wanted to make sure we tested the products with really small babies as well as older ones.
How did you test for day-to-day usage?
We looked at how comfortable the baby was in the bouncer and how well the features entertained and calmed a fractious child. If there were lots of extra features, then we assessed whether they were useful and necessary.
We looked at how easy it was to assemble the bouncers – did you need a screwdriver and a master's degree in engineering to put the thing together? Conversely, we looked at how easy it was to disassemble. Could it be stored flat with the touch of a button or would you need to break the entire thing down every time?
Weight was also a factor. Bouncers are at their most helpful when you cart 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 will need to be plugged into the mains.
Durability is equally important. Bouncers are designed to be…er…bounced in, so they need to be sturdy and safe. Our tester put all her strength into pushing them over to see how sturdy they were and also had help from her boisterous five-year-old who often liked to bounce his little sister.
How did you test for cleanliness?
Keeping bouncers clean is not always easy and, surprisingly, not all are machine-washable. Our tester put the washing machine-friendly ones through the wash multiple times to see if they kept their shape and colour.
The others were washed by hand to see if everyday stains, such as milk, baby sick and food, 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 a single 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 Infant-to-Toddler Rocker as this year's overall winner and awarded it a coveted Mumsnet Best badge alongside four other high performers.
Read next: The best baby bouncers for 2020
Why you should trust us
Mumsnet product reviews are written by real parents and we work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust.
We spend hours researching, speaking to parents, analysing data and listening to experts before we test out the products on our shortlist.
Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about how we tested the products we recommend. We won't always recommend the cheapest products or the ones with the most extra features. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the one's we'd recommend to our own friends and family.
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