After visiting his sister this weekend, my husband came home asking me whether or not bouncy seats for babies are good or bad. Immediately I assumed that the answer had to be good, since they give the baby a chance to strengthen his leg muscles before it’s even time to walk. However, as I thought about it more, he made his case about why he didn’t necessarily agree. His nephew—who loves the bouncy seat—hasn’t progressed in his crawling ability much yet, which my husband blames on the bouncy seat. By building his muscles in the bouncy chair, he is missing out on the chance to build his muscles for crawling. Obviously, this isn’t the baby’s fault, but instead it serves as a testament to a mother’s responsibility to make sure the bouncy seat is used in moderation. I researched my husband’s hunch, and it turns out he was on to something.

Bouncy seats are not inherently bad for your baby, but you need to make sure he or she is also getting time on the floor. When your baby has stomach time, he will soon start to lift himself up instinctively, which will build the arm and leg muscles at the same time. The bouncy seat alone will build the leg muscles. Unfortunately, it’s easy for new moms to begin to rely on the bouncy seat because it’s one of the best hands-free devices. Your baby can bounce peacefully while you do the dishes, take a quick shower or prepare dinner. As long as you stay in the same room, there’s no harm in taking advantage of the safe device. Though, it’s paramount that you take your baby out as much as you can and give him the chance to crawl around and lay on his belly. That way, crawling will happen naturally, and walking will follow soon after.

Don’t be afraid of the bouncy seat. As long as you are using it properly, your baby’s development won’t be stunted. At the same time, let your baby hang out on the floor as much as possible as well. It’s just as safe, and it will allow for a more natural development of the muscles as they would grow without the bouncy seat. In time, your baby’s leg muscles will develop on their own, so the bouncy seat is not necessary in that sense. Always use it in moderation.

Source: Lori Ann Vallis: Infant Bouncing: Analysis of Skilled and Less-Skilled Behavior University of Ottawa 2008

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