My infant son will not — cannot — stay still. He’s been squirming and screaming since we brought him home from the hospital. Even his sleeping is punctuated by more squirming and screaming. He insists on being held — and jostled. Caring for him is essentially an endless arm-and-leg workout, as his mother and I keep him constantly moving every minute he’s awake.
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Much as we love heaping physical love and attention on our boy, at certain points we need a break — to eat, to stretch, to change out of yet another shirt he’s painted in spit-up. Putting him down in his crib or on the floor is not an option, as this usually results in another round of ear-piercing screams. We needed to find something that would simulate the jiggling motion he expected if we were going to distract him long enough to get a breather.
We tried a swing — albeit an inexpensive model. Our son hated it: the swinging was minimal compared to the full-on carnival ride-esque motion we provided him manually; the straps weren’t snug but still annoyed him; the built-in speaker’s nature sounds and MIDI lullabies annoyed us.
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We also tried a bouncer. Again, the motorized motion was too gentle, to the point we weren’t even sure it was working correctly. Our baby grabbed at the toy bar’s plush animals, then cried when he was unsuccessful at getting them into his mouth.
Finally, we tried the 4moms bounceRoo, a device that doesn’t bounce on its own. Instead, the power pack (which requires three ‘AA’ batteries) vibrates the baby seat, replicating the natural caffeine-induced shaking of a sleep-deprived parent. The bounceRoo has three vibration modes (heartbeat, wave, and bee) and three intensity settings. The constant buzz of “bee” at the highest intensity setting was sufficiently agitating to calm our kid, at least for a few minutes at a time.
The baby seat can bounce, but only with parental assistance. For dinner, we’d set the baby in the bouceRoo on the floor between us, and bounce him intermittently. I also bought a clear shower curtain so my partner could position the baby in the bounceRoo on the bathroom floor and keep an eye on him when she needed to shower.
Though the bounceRoo was a gift (it runs about $100), we did need to shell out an additional $30 for the newborn insert — which our baby outgrew in four months. We’ve also gone through dozens of batteries; the absence of a power cord is an egregious design flaw. Worse, changing the batteries is weirdly complicated: simply swapping out old ones for new ones doesn’t work; the power button must be depressed for several seconds after the old batteries are removed but before the new batteries are inserted. Nearly all negative online reviews complain about “broken” devices, little realizing they’re only missing a crucial step when changing the batteries.
Though the overhead toy bar is bare bones — three triangle-shaped plush things are easily removable from a plastic spinner — our son did enjoy first swatting at it before pulling the toys off and inserted them into his mouth. Luckily, these and the seat’s cover are both machine-washable.
The bounceRoo will likely only last us another month or so, as our baby sizes out and/or begins sitting up on his own. But for the time being, it’s the best non-human option we have for keeping him (barely) docile. And for that, it’s an essential piece of gear in our home.