Exersaucer vs Jumperoo – 8 Things You Need To Know

Article Update July 2017

There are actually more similarities than differences between the exersaucer (also known as a baby activity saucer) vs jumperoo.  I will admit right away that we had both of these items for our children.

Honestly, at times they were a life saver.  However, at the time I hadn’t really done much research into them.

I just knew that both of these products provided safe places to put my baby when I needed to get things done.

I  spoke to a friend who is an Occupational Therapist to ask her for her views on the pros and cons of both exersaucers and jumperoos for the purpose of this article.

I had originally planned to write more of a review article about exersaucers vs jumperoos and providing information on the ones that I thought were the best for child development.

However, after speaking to my friend I realized that perhaps these products are not the best for a baby’s physical development.

All of that being said, this article is not meant to be fear mongering in any way.  Rather, I want parents to be aware and not blindly trust good marketing tactics.

Jump To Exersaucer and Jumperoo Alternatives

Excersaucer vs Jumperoo – What You Need To Know!

Unfortunately There Aren’t Many Positives

But I will discuss some of the benefits after this list.

Neither Is Good For Physical Development (specifically the hips)

When placed in either of these products, a baby’s hips are externally rotated and somewhat extended, this positioning is not conducive to learning to walk.  A baby learns to weight bear with their torso as opposed to their legs when they spend a lot of time in either of these products.

For weight bearing purposes, it is better for the baby to be holding on to something such as a table, couch or chair as this will promote weight bearing with their legs.

They Take Up A Lot Of Space

These are not small products.   Luckily we had a fairly big space to put them in, but I still felt like baby stuff was all over my house.

Apparently you can get travel versions of both of these now so they must be smaller and collapsible. I have not looked into these options.

They Often End Up Being “Babysitters”

I am definitely guilty of this one.  I can now admit that I didn’t put my child in an exersaucer or jumperoo because I honestly thought it was good for their development.

I did it because it allowed me to have 2 free hands and it kept them entertained (and safe, for the most part) for 10-30 minutes.

Best Toys For Your Babies Development

The “Developmental” Toys Attached Can Be Purchased Separately

Many people assume that these products are good for a child’s development based on the “activity trays” that come with them.   The manufacturers also lead parents to believe this is the case.

exersaucer vs jumperoo - drawbacks

Click here to read the description for the Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo from Amazon.  It is definitely made to sound like the perfect development toy for babies.

However, most Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists will probably agree that the description under “Encourages Healthy Development” is a bit misleading as a little baby is placing a lot of strain on developing bones and muscles by jumping and spinning.

The description under “Stimulating Interactive Play” is fairly accurate, however there is so much going on with this toy that a baby can easily become over stimulated.

It would be much more beneficial (from a language development perspective) to purchase stimulating and interactive toys separately and have them on the floor or on the high chair tray for your baby to play with.

I know babies like to throw things, so the chances of these items staying on the high chair tray are slim, but my point is that you do not need an exersaucer or jumperoo to give your child access to interactive toys.

Exersaucers Encourage Spinning Around, Jumperoos Focuse On Jumping Up & Down

Both of these movements can lead to tip toe walking as the baby is pushing off with his toes.

If Used For Short Periods Of Time These Products Are Fine For Your Baby

Physical therapists and occupational therapists recommend no more than 20 minutes A DAY!  But seriously, who would only use them for 20 minutes a day (remember that is the total time your baby should be in an exersaucer or jumperoo)?

I would put my kids in while I made dinner (20 – 30 minutes), while I had a shower (10 minutes), taking a phone call (10 minutes).

As you can see the time adds up quickly.

These Products Are Not Ideal For Babies With Disabilities

If your baby has a disability that specifically affects muscles (e.g. down syndrome, cerebral palsy, etc.) where low or high muscle tone is an issue then you definitely want to avoid both of these products as they will do nothing to help with gross motor and muscle development.

Babies with disabilities can also have sensory issues which means that they can become overstimulated quite quickly.

The activity trays that come with both of these products usually have sounds, lights and many colors that can be too much for a baby with a disability.

Here is an excerpt from a great comment left by a pediatric physical therapist on a parenting forum regarding the use of exersaucers and jumperoos.  To read the entire comment, click here.

I worked as a pediatric physical therapist before my son was born, so this an area near and dear to my heart.

Saucers, jumpers, walkers, etc. do nothing to enhance development, and can actually delay the achievement of milestones by several weeks. Essentially, to give a quick summary, standing in a saucer is not the same as actively standing while say holding onto a couch. The muscles work in a different pattern that is less desirable.

This has been backed up by EMG studies, where they read the electrical output of different muscles and look at the patterns in which they are activated. Babies in saucers tend to be pitched forward onto their toes, which isn’t a normal posture and can theoretically lead to tip toe walking down the road (an abnormal gait pattern).

Their abdominal muscles aren’t actively engaged like they would be while actively standing. Their gluteal (butt) muscles aren’t engaged the same way they would be while standing on their own. This allows them to stand with a sway-backed posture that isn’t particularly healthy.

There have been excellent twin studies showing that even in typically-developing kids, the twin that used a walker walked on average 6 weeks later than the non walker using twin. Most therapists would say this can be applied to saucer use as well. Studies have shown saucers to delay sitting, crawling and walking milestones.

Many parents will say their child used a saucer and walked early, but that isn’t really a fair assessment, as their child may have walked even earlier if they *didn’t* use one.

In a typically developing kid, it is less of a concern than a child at risk of delays (preemies, low muscle tone, etc.) However, not all parents know if their child is delayed or at risk of delays either.

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So, Are there benefits To An Exersaucer Or Jumperoo?

It really is a toss up, but unfortunately the negatives probably outweigh any potential benefits.  The only benefit that I can see is that both an exersaucer and a jumperoo will keep your baby entertained to allow you to get some things done.

For many people this is a huge selling feature, it definitely was for me!

You are probably asking yourself, what are the chances that my baby will have issues with their hips or walking on their toes as a result of using one of these products?  I can tell you that both of my children were fine and I am sure many other parents will tell you the same thing.

However, I do have one friend whose daughter had a hip displacement at about 6 months of age and the pediatrician advised that her being in a jumperoo was most likely the cause.

My children are also still young, so I don’t know if there could be any long term effects like damage to the spine (e.g. vertebrae shifting) as a result of them being in both exersaucers and jumperoos.

Babies are growing and developing rapidly in their first few years of life, therefore even small injuries can effect them in the long run.

But, if you really want either of these items, go with something simple.  It does not need to be packed with toys that light up, play music, sing the ABC’s and count to 10.

Take a look at these options!

Skip Hop Explore and More Baby’s View 3-Stage Activity Center

Skip Hop Explore and More Baby's View 3-Stage Activity Center

The Skip Hop Explore and More activity center is quite simple.

It has a foot base that you can use while your baby still can’t touch the ground with his feet allowing for less strain on the hips as baby will be in more of a sitting position.

The toys attached to the table can be re-positioned or removed.

And this one also turns into a table once your baby has outgrown it!

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PORTAPLAY ACTIVITY CENTER by Oribel

PORTAPLAY ACTIVITY CENTER by OribelI love the simplicity of the Oribel Portaplay Activity Center.  It’s not full of flashing lights and things hanging everywhere.

But the best feature that that once your child doesn’t need it as an exersaucer anymore it can be turned into a small kids table.

Perfect for arts and crafts time.  It will comfortably sit 2 children.  It also folds flat for easy storage.

You can buy 2 small stools separately that will match it once it’s a table.

I love toys that can be used for more than a few months!  Don’t you?

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What Are The Alternatives To An Exersaucer Or Jumperoo?

Baby Activity Play Mats

Baby activity gyms (aka play mats) are an excellent alternative!   The only drawback to these are that once your little one is moving, he probably won’t stay put for long.

To learn about the many benefits of play mats, including how they can help with language development, click here.

Baby activity play mat is one of the best learning toys for babies

Play Yards

If you have the space, you could get a play yard such as the ones pictured below.  A play yard is made up of panels that you put together as shown in the pictures below.

You could then place the baby play mat inside of this along with other toys you might find on the activity tray of an exersaucer or jumperoo!


Pack N Play

Another alternative would be to place your child in a pack n’ play with a few toys when you need to get things done around the house!

The Graco Pack N Play Playard Bassinet with Automatic Folding Feet is pictured below.  I love this idea because most people typically get a pack n play when they have a baby.

Usually these are used for sleeping or travelling, but they are a great alternative to exersaucers and jumperoos in that your little one can play safely while you get things done.
Graco Pack N Play Playard Bassinet with Automatic Folding Feet

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned at the beginning, I do not like fear mongering and that is not the intent of this article, parenting is tough as it is.  However, I really do not like toys that are marketed to be educational or beneficial for a baby’s/child’s development when in fact it is not true.

Marketers are great with wording and can easily sell a well meaning parent on a toy that is quite unnecessary from a developmental standpoint.

Please share what your thoughts are regarding exersaucers, jumperoos or both!

Exersaucer, Jumperoo or an alternative? Are either good/bad for baby's development? All your baby activity center questions answered here!

31 Comments

  1. Liz Ngo

    I have to thank you so much for article!!! I have been debating between a jumperoo, the exersaucer, or Bright Starts™ 3-in-1 Around We Go™ Activity Center. Putting pros and cons of each products and how can this grow for my child, and of course cost benefits. Which is more bang for the buck. After reading your article regarding hip developments, tip toe walking it all makes sense. I never thought about that side. Thanks again.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      You are welcome Liz! I am not familiar with the Bright Starts one so I had a look at it. It does seem similar to the other exersaucers and jumperoos out there (from a developmental standpoint). I do like that it is something that will grow with your child as the seat part can be taken off once your child can stand independently. This is why I recommend the Oribel Travel Activity Center. It’s portable, simple (not over stimulating) and can be used as a table later on. But it is more expensive than the Bright Starts one.

      Good luck with whatever you decide! And remember it is perfectly ok to put your child in one of these products. Just remember to do it for short periods of time only!

      Reply
  2. Tamar Isac

    How about those activity centers where the child actually sits down, and then it also becomes a booster seat later? It places the child sitting, like in a bumbo seat – are those also bad?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Tamar,

      Those would be fine (if we are thinking of the same thing). As the child is in a sitting position with legs out and flat there isn’t the same kind of strain that happens with exersaucers and jumperoos.

      Reply
  3. Kayla

    What about walkers that they push? Those can’t be bad, right?

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Kayla,

      Yes, the walkers that a child walks behind and pushes is fine. It is normal for a child to walk on his tip toes first, especially while pushing a walker. But as the muscles strengthen the child should start walking more on flat feet.

      Reply
  4. Matt's Mom

    Wow, what an eye opening post! You did a great job of giving information on why these are not the best for babies. I had both an exersaucer and a jumperoo for my last son, yet thankfully he didn’t really use either very much. You are right, they take up a lot of space and my son preferred to be on the floor the most. 

    I can see where they would affect development and this is great information you are getting out to parents. I don’t think anything like this should be used as a baby sitter. Just my personal opinion.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!  I think I need to add a disclaimer at the top of the article stating that you are not a bad parent for using either of these products.  But there are some things to keep in mind and parents should not blindly trust a manufacturers persuasive words.  They are trying to sell a product and won’t be pointing out the negatives of their product.

      Reply
  5. Monica

    Hi Tanya,
    I wish I would have run across your article a few years ago. I had a exersaucer for my little one. I guess I am fortunate that he didn’t like it. But had I known they aren’t good for little ones development then I would never have bought it. But this is great information I will pass it along to everyone I know with little ones. Thanks again for this great information.
    Monica

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Monica 

      Please don’t feel bad about having used an exersaucer with your child.  I’m not trying to bash either exersaucer or jumperoo.  My goal is to show parents that not everything that is marketed to babies and young children is as good for their development as the manufacturer claims.  

      Like I said in the article, both of my children used these products and they are fine.

      But it is good to be aware of the potential drawbacks and to realize that these items really are just to give tired parents a break to get other things done. 

      Reply
  6. Crystal

    I would have to disagree with the portion of the article that states “Neither Is Good For Physical Development”. My son loved the bouncer. It apparently strengthened his legs so much that he was walking at 7 months. I will say that I would not make that choice again because a 8 month old walking is the worse. He had perfected walking by the time he reached 8 months but he started at 7months.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Crystal,

      Thanks for your comment. I am very happy to hear that your son was an early walker and didn’t have any issues as a result of the bouncer. There is a good chance your son would have been an early walker regardless. As I said in the article I didn’t base the information on something that happened to my children (they were both fine despite using both an exersaucer and jumperoo), rather the information was gathered from Occupational and Physical Therapists.

      Reply
  7. scrfe

    Do either the exersaucer or jumperoo help with kids leg muscle growth or any health benefits ? Some defence that exersaucer or jumperoo can harm your kid. Seeking your advise.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Unfortunately there is no evidence that either the exersaucer or jumperoo can help with muscle growth or development. As I said in the article I used both of these products with my children. But I had never really looked in to them until I started researching for this article. The best way for a child’s leg muscles to develop is when a child starts pulling himself up and bearing weight in a natural way on the legs.

      A great alternative to these products are baby activity gyms and play yards! You can read that article here.

      Reply
      1. scrfe

        thank you, tanya

        Reply
  8. Bridgey

    I am not a physical therapist or pediatrician but I can tell you from experience. I have 7 kids and have used both with them. Since I homeschool I can tell you they were in them over the recommended 20 minutes. It was the only way to get school done, potty train younger ones and cook And actually eat a hot meal. All of children every single one was fully walking by 11 months, which is early definitely not delayed. Most walked by 10.5 months. They are active and healthy and have no developmental delays. My first 5 even had the front carriers they don’t recommend for hips. I have never heard of anyone who had a child delayed or problems as a result of one of these. But that’s just my experience for what it is worth.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Bridgey,

      Thanks for your comment. Like I said in my article most children will not have any issues as a result of using exersaucers and jumperoos. However the possibility is there. I used both of these items for my children as well and sometimes they were in there for 30 minutes. But, I am trying to share the best and truthful information with parents on this site. Therefore after learning what I did about these products, it didn’t feel right to me to write an article praising their benefits for child development.

      Reply
  9. Vertical Veloxity

    Thank you for the review. As a person who loves children and has a 5 year old, I remember when my son was an infant and trying to find great products for his care and his development. I am not done having children so I am keeping an eye on the industry.

    I never thought about these details and aspects of physical development. I am going to favorite your site so I can stay up to date on these things. Great incite and care for such an important issues. I love children!!!

    And like to be as detailed as possible with their development.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks for your comment! I am happy to hear that I have helped you with some decisions for your next baby.

      Reply
  10. Wendy

    Hello Tanya,

    Thank you for such an informative article. When you mentioned why these were not the best for babies it was like a light bulb went off. It’s like *ding* of course they’re not because look how the baby is positioned.

    I was going to ask what you would recommend as an alternative but as soon as the question entered my mind your very next paragraph answered it.

    If a baby is ‘on the move’ I guess the Pack N Play might be a good alternative? Because sometimes you just have to turn your back for a few seconds…

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks Wendy! Like I said in the article I do not like fear mongering and that was not the point of the article. However, I do feel that parents should be aware that these modern day baby contraptions (my dad liked to say that about many of my kids things when they were babies) aren’t necessarily all they are cracked up to be.

      Yes, a pack n play or play yard is a good alternative for when baby is on the move. However, you can still use either an exersaucer or jumperoo, just keep in mind that you don’t want your little one in there for too long.

      I feel like sometimes it is becoming harder being a parent with all of the new technology and gadgets that exisit these days. It’s becoming very difficult for parents to weed out the good from the bad.

      Reply
  11. Jezza

    Thanks for this wonderful review comparison of jumperoo and exersaucer. 🙂 But I would still chose the baby activity gym with play yard for my baby. I don’t want him to always just stay in place position and would love him to see actively playing around. But those are cute though. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks for your comment Jezza. I agree, a baby activity gym is better than the exersaucer or jumperoo from a developmental standpoint. However, I can see how parents are drawn into all the bells and whistles of an exersaucer or jumperoo. They do look quite nice and entertaining.

      Reply
  12. Debra

    Those exersaucers and jumperoos are so cute I could die. The stuff they make for babies and kids these days makes me really jealous…I mean, I wonder why I didn’t have this kinda stuff when I was little! I’m so glad manufacturers are making so many things now to help parents – especially working mommies – to better care for their children. I think anything that makes a child’s life and health and happiness better is worth having! Thanks for today’s dose of cuteness. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks for your comment Debra. Yes, there really is a lot out there for new parents and their babies. Unfortunately not all of it is good. That is what I was trying to point out in this article of the exersaucer vs. jumperoo. These gadgets appear great but they could possibly cause more harm than good? So many toys out there are merely babysitters and are used to get children to stop crying or bugging their parents.

      I am by no means a perfect parent and I used many of these gadgets with my children. However, I want to point out that all of these items are not needed to raise a well rounded and happy child!

      Reply
  13. Melanie Townsend

    Hello! This is my second time visiting your website. I did not use either or these products with my children. I did have a walker, and I have heard they are not that good for children and for their learning to walk. I did not use a walker for very long with any of my children. You provide lots of good reasons for your decision not to promote these products. Your post is very helpful!

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Melanie,

      You are right, a walker falls into the same category as exersaucers and jumperoos. The issues with a baby’s hips is the same, as well as tip toe walking. They are actually banned in certain countries (in Canada where I am is one of those) but I think that is mostly due to cases where children have fallen down stairs with them.

      I am glad you enjoyed the post!

      Reply
  14. Laurine

    I recently got married and of course the next step is having a baby. Wanting the best for your children is something every parent, I’m sure, feels. Even though I don’t have any yet, I will definitely consider the options of various baby items such as jumperoos and exersaucers before purchasing.

    Thank you for your insight and honesty.

    Cheers

    Laurine

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks for your comment Laurine and congrats on your marriage! It is good to be prepared before a little one arrives, but don’t stress about it. I remember being so nervous about having children when I first got married. I figured I wouldn’t even know how to hold a newborn. I ended up getting pregnant only a few months after getting married.

      My mom kept telling me that everything will come naturally once the baby arrives. And sure enough she was right. I still worried that I was doing things right, but often you don’t know until after the fact. Now when I look back on when my kids were babies I can see things I maybe would have done differently. But at the time I did the best I could.

      Reply
  15. Faith

    Thank you so much for this! I was looking at a jumparoo about a month ago, but my mother insisted that I skip that step and just get my then 5 month old a walker. I was a little slow to convince because I feel like sometimes my mother tries to rush my daughters development but I caved. My daughter loves her walker, and has learned to stand pretty well. She is even starting to pull up on things now.

    Thank you for the alternative recommendations I was thinking about getting her a large play yard in the near future it just felt like the right thing to do, I wanted her to be able to have lots of room to get around and play without having to keep her squeezed in a small space like a play pen. Happy to know I am on the right track.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      It is good for parents to know that there are alternatives to jumperoos and exersaucers. I just wanted to point out that from my research, walkers also fall into the same category as exersaucers and jumperoos because they have the same issues with regards to the hips.

      I didn’t even think of including walkers in my list because they are illegal where I am (Canada). They have been banned for many years now due to injuries (mostly from kids falling down steps, not because of issues with hips or toe walking, that I know of anyway).

      Like I said in the article, the chances of something happening to your baby as a result of using these items are slim, but I did want to point out that it can happen and that there are alternatives.

      Reply

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