What is an Exersaucer?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

An exersaucer is an alternative to a baby walker. First developed by the company Evenflo®, and marketed specifically under the brand name ExerSaucer®, many parents now refer to all these sitting, bouncing and baby-propelled turning devices as exersaucers, though other companies may sell them under different names. Unlike the typical walker, these baby accessories don’t allow a baby to move forward or back by using its feet. Instead, the baby can move the saucer that makes up the base around, can bounce up and down in the saucer, and usually has access to a colorful tray that may have attached toys for entertainment.

Young boy eating an apple
Young boy eating an apple

There has been significant discussion about the value and risks of wheeled baby walkers. Though you can still find a few on the market, they do have a high rate of accidents, with babies tipping over the walkers or worse yet, falling down flights of stairs. Most pediatricians recommend parents not use walkers, and moreover they argue these devices may actually delay certain types of development. They don’t teach a baby how to walk, and they discourage babies from other forms of movement like crawling and scooting.

Many pediatricians feel differently about exersaucers because they have a much lower risk of accident. Still, you should never leave a baby unattended in an exersaucer, and most doctors recommend using them for limited amounts of time so that babies have opportunities to explore other kinds of movement. One disadvantage to exersaucers, according to some professionals, is that babies can’t see their feet in them. This may affect how the baby perceives itself spatially and delay some gross motor development.

Most doctors feel that it is fine to use an exersaucer for limited periods of time, and it may help keep babies interested. Babies may love them or hate them, and you might want try out a friend’s exersaucer before you purchase one. Some of these pack well for bringing to places where you really don’t want the baby scooting on the floor, and there are plenty of varieties to choose from.

Most importantly, you need to make sure any exersaucer you buy is highly rated for safety. Many feature a way to lock the bouncing or the turning mechanism so baby can sit and play with toys without moving. With growing concern about babies spending too much time on their backs and how this may affect head shape and development, the exersaucer may be more important for children.

Giving the child a chance to sit upright can help build neck strength. On the other hand, if the baby slumps forward when placed in an exersaucer, you may want to wait a while before using it. Age of use varies, but many babies are ready for exersaucers when they’re about four to five months old and able to sit up with some support.

Most exersaucers have recommendations for maximum weight and height. You should not exceed these maximums. Also, some skilled babies who are beginning to walk may be able to get themselves out of exersaucers. If your baby seems on the verge of being able to get out, it’s time to put this toy away. This way, the baby cannot tip itself over if he or she succeeds in climbing partially or fully out.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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