I didn’t buy my baby a bouncer seat before he was born because I was convinced I could just cuddle him 24/7. My sister knew better and brought over what’s now known in my family as the beloved “monkey chair,” a baby bouncer that held my son while I did other important things—like shower and eat. I loved that little bouncer, but these seats are not without hazards. That’s why the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has revised infant bouncer seat safety guidelines to require manufacturers place warnings on the front of the bouncers, near the baby’s head and shoulders.
According to CPSC research, the placement of these warning labels matters a lot. Having the warning label in a spot that’s visible go parents and near the child’s face is essential, according to the folks who monitor bouncy seat injuries and deaths. By making the hazard warnings more visible to caregivers, the CPSC hopes to reduce baby falls and convince parents to use the harness restraints even if a baby falls asleep in the bouncer.
Between January 1, 2006, and July 6, 2016, there were 347 incidents involving bouncer seats reported to the organization, including 12 fatalities and 54 injuries. Most of the fatalities were suffocations; babies who were not strapped in were able to turn over and tip out of the bouncer onto soft surfaces, such as mattresses.
Falls were another huge factor. Hundreds of infants fell from elevated surfaces like kitchen countertops and tables while using bouncy seats between 2006 and 2015.
The CPSC recommends parents prevent injuries by following the following rules for bouncy seat safety:
- Bouncers should always be placed on the floor—not countertops, tables or other elevated surfaces.
- Never place bouncers on beds, sofas or other soft surfaces.
- Always use appropriately adjusted restraints, even if baby is asleep.
- Stay near and watch the baby during use.
- Stop using the bouncer when a child is able to sit up on his own, reaches 20 lbs. or surpasses the manufacturer’s recommended maximum weight.
Although the CPSC notes it’s common for babies to fall asleep in bouncy chairs, The Journal of Pediatrics advises bouncers, swings and other baby seats are not safe places for sleeping. Becasue infants are more prone to asphyxiation, it’s best to move a sleepy baby to a crib.
If you’re shopping for a new bouncer now you probably will not see the new warning labels quite yet, as the CPSC has proposed that the rule become effective six months after the publication of a final rule in the Federal Register. In the meantime, the seats can be safe as long as we’re using them responsibly. Be sure to put that baby bouncer on the floor beside you with baby snuggly strapped in—and enjoy eating a meal with two hands for once.