If we’re being honest, one of the best baby gifts we’ve received (yet somehow failed to register for) was a huge, hideous baby bouncer. It was green. It was garish. It had lights *and* sounds. But while feeling significantly less than neutral about it, bb was absolutely overjoyed (not an understatement) at the prospect. Seeing his little face light up as soon as he was placed inside that monstrosity made all the lost floorspace worth it.
In truth, bouncers and activity centers are a godsend. Little ones between the ages of 6-12 months are super curious and eager to experience the magic that is cause-and-effect, and who are we to deny them this specific joy? Plus, bouncers keep your LO entertained while also keeping them from getting into stuff, which means you can actually get something done using both of your arms (what a concept!). Just keep them under close supervision, ofc.
Once your babe can sit up on their own, it’s time to upgrade from that tummy-time floor mat anyway. Bouncers can be a smart way to offer a little stimulation—that doesn’t require you to personally provide. “From a developmental perspective, we love baby gear that is multi-faceted,” says Monica Banks, CEO and founder of Gugu Guru, a baby product concierge service. Seek out multifunction gear that can engage your baby with lots of different activities, she notes, and is customizable and/or adjustable depending on baby’s age and stage. And because we’re all about minimalist parenting, “look for a jumper that can fold up and store away quickly and easily,” she adds. Out of sight, out of mind.
Luckily, there are tons of options in the baby gear realm that do just that—and more. If you’re in the market for an activity center that your little one will adore (even though you, um, might not), we’ve found the best baby-approved bouncers and jumpers around.
Everybody wins with this fold-away jumper from Skip Hop, whose small size and collapsible legs means it folds flat to slide under the couch or take along to the grandparents’ for the day. And for your little overachiever, a handy jump counter tracks milestones (and lights up with applause at the 100 jump mark). Can we all get that kind of encouragement?
If you, too, hate the idea of a bouncer clashing with your couch, the Oribel PortaPlay is the answer. The clean, white design plants this activity center firmly in the “chic baby stuff” column—meaning you won’t have to shove it into a closet when company comes over. We love that it converts from a baby seat to a pretty play table that’s perfect for arts and crafts time.
The sidecar-style seat on this activity center wheels around the table (love encouraging self-sufficiency) so bb can reach all angles. (The seat is also removable down the line.) Got two kiddos who need to be entertained? This is the gear you *need.* Pop the littlest in the baby seat and let your big kid cruise around the table. Two for one!
We’ll award mega points for the chic, minimal look of this jumper (hello, wood accents!) and the beyond-cute woodland animals. You’ll love the modern color palette, while bb will adore the lights, sounds, sliding toys and the always-necessary snack holder. Moms love the portability, too. “Despite how [lightweight] it is, it feels very sturdy, even when my daughter was bouncing away. There is plenty to keep a little one occupied without being over stimulating,” says Jess B. on Walmart’s site. *Adds to cart!*
Even the busiest little jumpers won’t get tired of how effing *fun* this rainforest jumper setup is. Hanging toys and sounds keep baby positively enchanted, and the more than 6,700 positive reviews on Amazon basically speak (yell) for themselves. “HOW DID WE LIVE BEFORE THIS JUMPEROO!?!?!?!” says Amanda on Amazon. Brandon writes: “I don’t write a lot of reviews, but I feel compelled to do so for this jumperoo. It has been worth every bit of the $60 we spent on it. I joke with my husband that I would have gladly paid $500 for it.” Says Marifel: “Ten years later and still our first choice when we had our third baby.” We could go on, but you’d be here all day!
Sometimes mama needs an office, and sometimes baby does, too. This 3-stage activity center has 25 different engaging actions to keep your LO’s hands (and feet! See that foot piano?) busy during a frantic email flurry.
If your mini maestro loves music (and what kid doesn’t?) snap up the Baby Einstein Neighborhood Symphony Jumper. With an electronic bongo drum, piano, guitar and tambourine, baby’ll instantly be the star of their very own orchestra. Bonus: The seat has four different height settings, ensuring you’ll use this one longer than 3 months.
Consider this a pre-bouncer for the 6-month-old who is still working up that core strength. The soft little seat is like a chic baby couch, complete with adorable analog (read: non-offensive) barnyard-themed toys that dangle and jiggle. Baby will have a blast wiggling and squirming around in this cozy den.
With three different stages of fun, the Evenflo Exersaucer is perfect for the parent who doesn’t want to invest in a separate floor mat, bouncer and cruising table—this one does all three! With tons of electronic sounds and lights and instruments to play, LO will be captivated for what feels like hours (er, 20 minutes lol).
A smart budget buy (under $100!), the Infantino activity table has two modes: infant bouncer with a rotating seat and six activities, or a stand-up table with cute roller toys. But perhaps the best part is how easily (and compact) this thing folds up. Store the toys in the seat, cover the table with the floor mat and fold up the legs. And voila—your living room once again looks like adults live here!
Part bouncer, part walker, and part stationary entertainment center, the Tiny Love model comes in a couple cute themes and has more than 20 super sweet sensory activities. We like the compact size and animal accents, and the 360-degree spinning seat lets bb keep an eye on you, too.
For all you Nemo lovers out there, this jumper is sure to keep your kiddo swimming—er, bouncing—happily. The multi-sensory zone has all the features bb will love: Dancing lights! Ocean-themed songs! Mirror! Piano! And, perhaps most importantly, Dory!
More baby gear your kiddo is sure to adore right here.