For parents, every new item for your baby can be a dilemma. With safety standards changing so often, what seems like a good purchase one day might turn out to be a bad decision later on. One of those items that always seems to raise a number of questions is the old tried-and-true exersaucer. What was once the stereotyped staple of busy parents everywhere is now raising a lot of red flags amongst parenting groups. With that in mind, it’s time to ask the question: should you use an exersaucer?
Problems With Using an Exersaucer
While exersaucers seem like a good idea to many parents — they can keep your baby safe in a secure environment while giving them toys to play with an aid their development, right? — they actually can lead to many problems.
- Because exersaucers require babies to stay in a standing position for an extended period of time, often before they’re actually ready or able to stand up on their own. This can lead to problems with their lower body development. For one thing, exersaucers force babies to stand in such a way that their knees turn in the wrong direction, which can lead later on to a knock knee problem.
Another physical issue that may arise stems from the fact that babies usually have to stand on their toes in the exersaucer. In the short term, this can lead to problems such as jammed toes form bouncing up and down. In the long term, this can cause babies to walk on their toes, impeding their physical movements laterin life.
- A second issue with exersaucers is a loss of creativity. This may seem counterintuitive; exersaucers have toys, bells and whistles to help stimulate their mind, after all. However, in the exersaucer, these gadgets are the only things the baby can play and interact with. This naturally stifles their curiosity, since it cuts out so many other things they would naturally discover on their own.
- A third issue that exersaucers can cause has to do with parent-to-child interaction. When babies spend too much time in their exersaucer, they are losing precious time that they could be spending with their parents.
So, are exersaucers a complete no-no? In a word: no. Even though they can lead to problems such as we talked about earlier, this doesn’t mean that they should not be used. When using exersaucers, though, there are important recommendations to keep in mind:
- The first and most important rule to keep in mind when introducing your baby to an exersaucer is to wait until your baby is ready. When should you start? Well, that’s not a question with a set answer, but the general rule is to wait at least until your baby is able to sit on his or her own. This gives your baby a chance to develop some of the necessary muscles that he or she can use to help avoid some of those physical problems mentioned earlier.
- Another important thing to note is that exersaucers have a recommended age range. These age recommendations are made in part for the developmental aspects of the toys, but also for the physical demands placed on the baby’s body. If you get an exersaucer that is not in the correct age and development stage you might end up causing physical problems down the line.
- A final recommendation is to watch the clock. Even when your baby is ready for an exersaucer, and the one you buy is the correct size and stage for your baby, spending too long in their can still lead to many problems later on. For this reason, many pediatricians recommend that babies do not stay in an exersaucer longer than 20 to 30 minutes in a single day, with no single session lasting more than 10 or 15 minutes.
In other words, let them stay in their long enough to enjoy it an play, but not long enough that the exersaucer simply becomes a hang-out spot.
In conclusion, having an exersaucer isn’t a bad thing. While overusing an exersaucer has, in some cases, led to possible physical, mental and emotional impediments, these are usually the results of extreme cases. In moderation, an exersaucer can provide your baby with fun, stimulating activities. However, it’s important that you follow all recommended guidelines, and speak to your pediatrician if you have more questions.
Do you have any questions or comments about exersaucers? Please leave them in the comments below.