Here’s what to look for in a good jumper, and which jumper you NEED to buy!
Baby jumpers are one of those standard pieces of baby equipment that every. single. parent. should own. Don’t underestimate the power of baby exercise- a playing baby is a tired baby, and tired babies sleep more soundly.
So with a ton of jumpers to buy, which one should you jump at? A fancy one that folds away? A cheap and basic one? What about those special ones that fit in the doorway? I’ve researched, read reviews, asked around, and used my own experiences to pick the best baby jumper.
If you want the absolute best baby jumper on the market, go for the Skip Hop Explore and More Baby’s View 3-Stage Activity Center.
Let me tell you all about my favorite baby jumper and why I picked it. Then, I’ll tell you the criteria I used for picking it.
Best Baby Jumper
Skip Hop Explore and More Baby’s View 3-Stage Activity Center
This product is just amazing. It has everything I want in a jumper– toys, activities, and the ability to grow with baby. I used a different, more traditional jumper with my son that worked just fine, (the Baby Einstein Activity Jumper), but it ain’t got nothing on this jumper!
Why I Am Obsessed
I love this because it’s just not like every other jumper out there. It isn’t designed to let your baby go crazy with the whole jumping up and down thing. And that’s good. Why? Jumpers can actually be bad for your baby (read more on that below). This pediatrician- and occupational therapist- designed seat allows your baby to move and balance and even throw in some excited bounces and jumps. But they do this in a healthy way that is good for their little body.
The other thing this seat has that I love is the versatility. It’s not just a baby jumper, it’s an activity seat, a play table, and an overall great piece of baby gear. Let’s dive into the details for those different stages.
Stage 1: Sit, Swivel, Bounce, and Play
The experts who helped design this seat wanted to focus on a total body mode of play, in which baby uses all parts of their brain and their body equally and together.
For this mode, baby can sit in the seat and play to their heart’s content. They can safely sit until they are 25 pounds. The seat has 360 degrees of mobility so that baby can reach all of the toys. The seat also has a bit of stretch to accomodate some bouncing. The stretchy seat says clean with a cloth only, but many parents have machine washed and line dried and had it come out okay.
And while it doesn’t bounce quite like traditional jumpers, there is a platform underneath that helps baby learn to balance and support its weight. The platform isn’t fixed, so it wiggles around and causes baby to use their muscles. They can still jump and bounce, but they won’t be catching air quite like other, more traditional baby jumpers. The platform is adjustable as baby grows so that they are always at the perfect height for healthy movement.
The sensory toys are the focus of this stage. All together, the toys create 25 different developmental activities. The round tray table features 5 toys and an activity window. The toys include a pop-up owl that makes cute hoots, a spring cloud filled with bright colored beads, soft rubber trees that bend, a hedgehog bead chaser toy, and a dishwasher safe bee bowl for keeping snacks safe. Also, the toys (and table) are phthalate free for worry-free baby gnawing.
All of these toys attach to the tray with secure clips. The clips have little loops on the bottom that allow you to attach extra toys during the first 2 stages if you wish. You will need lots of links to get the toys long enough for baby to reach during this first stage.
Also on the tray is a see-through window that allows baby to look at the piano that’s on the foot platform. This cute little piano can be used in 3 different modes: piano mode, melody mode, and motion sensor mode. Since baby can see it, they can learn cause and effect from kicking the keys and making noises. Plus, the piano isn’t too loud and the songs are totally tolerable for us parents.
If your baby doesn’t like the piano being at their feet, or maybe they just aren’t developmentally ready for kicking the keys, then you can move the piano. It can be placed in the tray table above the see-through window. It can also be removed and used as a stand-alone toy.
Stage 2: Cruise and Interact
Once baby is too tall or too old to be confined in the jumper anymore, they can use it as a cruising toy. Now what that means is that it sits at just the right height for baby to walk around it and look at the toys. This is so perfect for those babies who are just learning to get around on their own. It gives them a stable environment to cruise in and the familiar toys keep them excited.
You have two choices for creating a cruiser in this mode. For the first choice, you can pop the little platform that baby should stand on while jumping completely off. That way, it won’t interfere with their ability to cruise around. Plus, it’s one less place for them to hurt themselves at this topsy and accident-prone age. By leaving the seat in, you can use it interchangeably as a jumper or just a toy to stand by.
The second choice is that you can go ahead and put that platform where the seat goes. This will pretty much turn the jumper into a junior toddler toy table. They’ll have a flat center to put other toys on, while the toys they’ve come to know and love will still be clicked into place for their playing pleasure.
Clicking this platform into place is pretty easy. It just snaps right down in the hole with no problems. I love how much use and versatility this lends to this jumper! Which leads me to my next mode.
Stage 3: Play Table
The final way to use this jumper is as a wonderful toddler table. Once you snap all those toys off and store them with the seat, you are left with a stylish and functional kids table. At 31 inches in diameter, its a great sized table that’s perfect for little kid play.
Sure, it’s not as secure or sturdy as say, a wooden table. But it does the job! It is easier to clean, doesn’t scratch, and has a cleaner and more updated look. The area on the platform where the piano once went makes an amazing snack tray or crayon holder, too!
You can get some matching chairs. The Skip Hop Explore and More Kids Chairs are designed to go with this table. The matching chairs turn this once-jumper into an adorable table set that any child and parent would love.
How can you not love this bonus stage? I think I’ve mentioned before that I used a different jumper with my son. He loved to jump in it, and then when he was cruising around, he would use the jumper to help him. But then we had to pack that piece of baby gear away. It had no more use to us.
This seat gets rid of that nauseous feeling you get as apparent when you realize that something that you paid a pretty penny for lasted only a few months. Sure, we expect a short life for kids products, because that’s just their inherent nature. But this product goes above and beyond the expected lifespan. It gives you a jumper and a table all in one! You’ll get several years of use out of it.
Maybe one of the biggest (and only) bummers about this jumper is that the amazing activity window can’t be removed. It’s not completely waterproof and as such, spit up, drool, milk, and anything else can work its way into those little crevasses and get trapped inside the window. It would be so much nicer if you could pop the plastic window out to get it cleaned.
Another pet peeve that I have is the keyboard. Now, I am a piano player myself, so maybe that’s why this keyboard drives me nuts. It’s not tuned! It’s just not musically correct! I know that babies don’t know the difference, but why couldn’t Skip Hop have seized this opportunity to teach kids proper music? Not a deal breaker, but annoying nonetheless.
What Does the Research Say?
This is a fancy way of saying “what do other people think?” And I can tell you, the reviews are sterling. In addition to those two little things I already mentioned, here are some of the most common complaints:
- Too short. A few parents have complained that they can’t get the seat low enough for their baby to touch the platform. Since one of the main points of the seat is to allow baby to learn to put and support weight on their feet, this is kind of a biggie. But parents of the world have figured it out: put a pillow under baby and voila! They can touch.
- Too tall. Opposite of this is the problem that parents have with their child growing out of this due to height, and not necessarily due to baby being developmentally ready to move on. That could easily happen for tall babes. My daughter has always been over the 80th percentile on height, and we did notice that she could stand up straight at the tallest setting by the time she was 8 months old. But by then she was ready to cruise, so it worked out okay for us.
- Not enough toys. There aren’t that many toys that come included. And, you can’t buy any extra toys that come with the clips to help it attach to the tray/table. We circumvent this problem by just giving our kiddo more toys to hold and attaching some to the loops on the rings. I think they erred on the side of simplicity to keep it from being another overstimulating baby toy.
- Bee bowl loses suction. After some time, this thing just won’t stick anymore. Doesn’t mean baby can’t play with it, but they can’t get it to stay on the tray.
Aside from these pretty minor complaints that are standard for a lot of baby jumpers, people totally love this jumper! Parents can’t say enough good things about the style, quality, and versatility. Not to mention that it keep their kids happy and healthy.
A Safety Note About Jumpers
Let’s talk a little bit about jumpers. I told you at the beginning that every kid should have one. I had a jumper growing up, and I’m sure you did too. They are so useful and quite common, but not a lot of parents know the down and dirty truth about jumpers.
Jumpers can be bad for your baby. Yes, we’ve heard it stressed that you need to exercise your baby (because they sleep better, I’m telling you!), and a baby jumper seems like a perfect way to do that. But, placing your baby in a jumper for extended periods can actually work against their health and development.
In order to get optimal development, your baby should be spending a lot of time on their tummy, then crawling, then standing, then cruising, then walking. That’s the normal sequence of events for a well-developed baby. When baby is in their jumper, they are getting a lot of uncontrolled movements. According to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, the uncontrolled movements that are experienced in a jumper, like standing on tiptoe and rapid, wobbly jumping, aren’t helping your baby to develop. The hospital says that these movements don’t help to develop trunk and leg control in the same way that more natural movements, like crawling and cruising do.
In addition to the cognitive developmental concerns, there’s the issue of the hips. When your baby is fully suspended from the seat by their hips, it places a lot of strain on not just the hips, but the spine, back, and legs as well. According to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, the restraint of the legs as experienced in a baby jumper leads to improper placement of the hips. This can lead to abnormal hip development in the baby.
All of this adds up to a baby who doesn’t have the necessary skills to walk or crawl as they should. Between the baby experiencing improper hip and back alignment, combined with the encouragement of standing on the tiptoes and the lack of control for those core and leg muscles, baby just can’t do what they should. In any case, there is some evidence that normal walking will be delayed in babies who use jumpers or bouncers.
Besides being bad for baby, jumpers can be dangerous. There is a big chance that your baby can become injured when in a baby jumper. Babies can slip out of seats or pinch fingers in the springs. Supports can break and babies can get hurt.
The type of jumper that is suspended from a doorway is extremely dangerous. Babies can jump so hard that they pull the jumper off of the doorway and fall. They can also jump so wildly that they collide with the door frame on either side or with an object in front of or behind them. There’s also a strangulation risk for older babies who could somehow become entangled in the long cord. Sounds impossible, but all parents know that babies are little Houdini’s when they want to be.
Now, this all being said, a few minutes every day or two isn’t going to turn your baby into a invalid. It certainly won’t hurt them. The studies have shown that constant, extended time in jumpers or walkers is what hurts your baby. If they jump around while you take a 10 minute shower, it’s gonna be alright.
Be sure to minimize baby’s risk. Please don’t use doorway jumpers! They’re an accident waiting to happen. Make sure your jumper is in good working order. Make sure that you have it properly adjusted for your baby’s size and height. Check to make sure that baby is secured and can’t get out on their own. Find a jumper that doesn’t have a crazy amount of bounce or suspension, as that can minimize risk and increase cognitive stimulation. And as always, be within earshot, so that you can come running if baby needs you!
The Best Traditional Baby Jumper
Okay, so I know that there are those of you out there who have read the above information. You get it- jumpers have risks. But you still want a great jumper. A jumper where your baby can get some major bouncing movement. A jumper like you grew up with. If you are looking for a regular, traditional baby jumper, take a look at the Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo.
The bouncer has a lot of great features that will keep baby entertained.
- A soft, machine washable seat that rotates 360 degrees for playing fun
- The 32 inch diameter frame can fold down and nest within itself for easier and more compact storage (just the metal base folds- the seat stays put together)
- Covered springs to help baby to learn gross motor skills from major jumping and bouncing
- 3 height settings accommodate a baby until 32 inches and 25 pounds
- Toy tray has 5 different toy stations designed for tactile and sensory development, including:
- A jumping-activated lights and sounds toy with dangling characters (can be set to play continuously)
- A springy bumblebee with bright colored wings and different textures
- A lizard roller bar with beads inside
- A spinning wheel with different images
- A rainbow arch with spinning sun and peek-a-boo tiger
- A dangling parrot and frog for reaching up into the soft leaf canopy
Why Didn’t It Win?
You may be looking at the fun features and 5 star reviews for this jumper and wondering why I didn’t pick it. Well, there are a couple of reasons. Besides that whole safety thing.
First, there is the whole price thing. It isn’t that much cheaper than the Skip Hop activity center. And you don’t even get any versatility out of it. Baby will use this for a few months and then have to move on. You can’t detach any of the toys either, so it can’t have any use past being a jumper. When I’m paying $$$ for baby gear, I’d like more for my money.
Second, I felt like this was cheaply constructed. The seat is thin at the bottom and has really small leg holes. The toys are bright and borderline obnoxious, as is the piano, although baby seems to love them. The stuffed animals are made from scratchy felt. Overall, the metal legs were the highest-quality part of this jumper. It just doesn’t seem like it could hold up to a beating from my rambunctious kids. If it were less expensive, I’d let all this slide. But for the price tag, I want nicer parts.
Baby Jumper Buying Guide
Here’s all the information that I used to pick out the best baby jumper. If you consider all of this information and really check out the reviews, I’m sure you’ll come to the same conclusion that I did.
Types of Baby Jumpers
Baby jumpers have been around for ages. You can find a bunch of varieties in a wide array of price points. I’m going to talk about the three main kinds that you can buy.
The first kind of baby jumper is the fixed seat kind that stands alone. These are by far the most common. These jumpers have a seat and tray that are fixed in place, and then that whole assembly is usually suspended by cords or springs of some kind. It is these springs, combined with small movements, that provide big bounces for baby.
The second kind of baby jumper is also a stand alone jumper with a balance element. These types of seats, however, get their jump from springs under the babies seat, or even from some kind of bosu balance ball thing placed under the baby’s feet. These are a lot harder to find, but they do exist. These baby jumpers rely on your baby to provide the bounce more than the springs.
The last kind of baby jumper is a doorway jumper. This kind of baby jumper usually has a harnessed seat system that is attached to a large spring. This whole assembly can then be attached to a doorway. There are even some like this that can be attached to a frame or an old swing frame. These are great for saving space, and rely on that big spring to get baby going up and down.
What to Look For in a Baby Jumper
They make big jumpers and compact jumpers. Some can fit against a wall, while others need a few inches of clearance all the way around. Consider how much space you have and where your jumper will live before you buy. Read the dimensions before buying! And always read the manufacturer recommendations for weight and height before purchasing to make sure that you get a product that can grow with your baby.
Not all seats are created equal. Some are made for thin babies, some for chunky ones. I mention this because both my babies have what I like to call “healthy thighs”. Not all baby thighs will fit in the same leg holes! Baby won’t play if their legs are being pinched. They also won’t play if the seat doesn’t have stretch and puts a lot of pressure of them. And a nice sketchy material will help baby stay comfy. So will proper adjustment of the seat height.
This will be a matter of personal preference. You may like brighter, louder toys than other parents. Just remember that any toy your baby plays with should have some kind of educational value. Think bright colors, shapes, and patterns. Any toy that teaches cause and effect, like toys with levers or buttons, are great. And toys that baby can chew on when teething won’t go amiss either. A final thing to consider: too many toys and sounds will overwhelm baby, and they won’t want to play. Not enough toys and sounds will make baby quickly bored and they won’t want to play. Use your child as your guide and choose well.
I know you think the doorway jumpers are cool. And I do too. But they are so unsafe. They’re an accident waiting to happen. That’s why the majority of them get reviews over 4 stars- too many bad things happen. Besides that, just make sure that your jumper is constructed well. It should have sturdy and safe plastic and metals that are free from harmful substances. It should have a high seat that goes up to baby’s armpits so that they can’t jump or fall out. No springs should be exposed. And no toys should be small enough to choke on.
Is it just a jumper, or maybe something else too? And while I picked a jumper with maximum versatility, there are options out there that are versatile, but more subtly so. Example:many jumpers have toys that can detach and be played with outside the jumper, so you are getting more use for your money.
Please, please, please, don’t overpay for a jumper. It can be tempting to pay a lot of money for something that you think is good. And the shiny toys and loud music can help you justify the price tag. But keep in mind that a jumper will only have s life of about 6 months, so paying an exorbitant amount of money is just silly.
Now that you know what I know, go forth and buy a baby jumper. Better yet, buy the best baby jumper: the Skip Hop Explore and More Baby’s View 3-Stage Activity Center. You will love it!