The last thing I'd ever want to do on this site is come off as preachy or like I'm trying to tell others what their kids should or shouldn't have or play with or do. So please know I'm writing this post in the spirit of "Here's what happened to us," and that's it.
So... how to make a long story as short as possible? There's probably no way to. Settle in!
We started taking Baba G to physical therapy when he was around 6 months old because he was tilting his head to one side the majority of the time. (If you know all the medical terms, it was a very mild case of tortocollis—which spell-check desperately wants me to change to "tortellinis.")
Tortocollis is fairly common in infants, and in the week that passed between his pediatrician seeing him and his first PT appointment, the issue was almost gone thanks to some stretches and exercises.
We still kept the PT appointment, during which they did a total-body assessment.
They watched him playing and rolling around and whatnot. When they helped him stand, they noticed how he kept trying to rise up on his tip-toes and lean forward. They'd rather see him standing flat-footed with his weight shifted more toward his bottom (so if he fell he'd fall into a sitting position). The culprit was his ExerSaucer, which pretty much trained him to lean forward and stand on his tippy-toes, as seen in this video below if you look closely at his feet:
It's not the best thing for a baby who's eventually going to need to learn to walk normally. I guess if he were trying to compete with the Monty Python "Silly Walk," that would've been another story
I felt like an ass, because when *I* was in physical therapy for my post-pregnancy-related wrist issues, my therapist told me about how bad jumpy seats were for a baby's alignment, and I was all, "Yeah, Baby Bargains wouldn't even review jumpers for that reason" and generally acted like I was an informed parent. Then we started taking about ExerSaucers, which were developed after jumpers and walkers were determined to be some of the most dangerous baby products on the market. But my therapist wasn't a fan of ExerSaucers, either.
I told her we had one and that Baba G LOVED it. He loved to holler at the alligator puzzle and the light-up iguana, he loved to bite the butterfly, and he even found a way to catch some zzz's in it one afternoon:
|YOU WILL OBEY ME, Iguana!|
|Butterflies are good for the gums, I swear.|
|Just dozing in the jungle.|
"I'd still restrict the ExerSaucer to about 15 minutes," was my physical therapist's reply.
I did only keep Baba G in it for 15 minutes at a time... but I probably put him in there 3 or 4 times a day. (Remember... he loved it! I just wanted to see him happy!)
Slap on the wrist time for me. I confessed everything to his physical therapists (who were TOTALLY nice about all of this and not at all judgmental, truly), and they basically said to think about it this way: a baby's muscles are a blank slate. If they spend a total of 45 minutes to an hour working a set of those muscles in a certain way — even if that total time was broken up into short bursts — it was going to have an impact. I could see their point.
From that day forward, Baba G was banned from the ExerSaucer. HOWEVER, the great thing about the ExerSaucer is that it can be used in lots of other ways besides just being a bouncy seat. It comes with a removable arch that was excellent for tummy and back time in the early months:
|BG and his brother Shaddy just chillin'|
And now that BG pulls himself up on anything and everything, he can enjoy the ExerSaucer from the outside. In fact, his physical therapists actually encouraged its use in this way.
|Hello, birdie friends! I missed you.|
Baba G is thrilled to be reunited with his old gang. Though he still is frustrated that he can't get those darn monkeys off of their arch.
And would you believe that I learned something AGAIN thanks to research for this blog? When I was grabbing images for the ExerSaucer's Amazon page, I realized it could be totally reconfigured like so:
This has absolutely made my day, as this is EXACTLY the kind of "table-toy" his physical therapists love. It encourages side-to-side stepping, which is a precursor to walking.
The bottom line: Look, will we ever know if Baba G would've been a whacked-out walker had we continued to let him play in the ExerSaucer's bouncy seat? No. And do millions of other babies play in these kinds of seats—and much worse—and turn out just fine? Yes. (This same ExerSaucer is actually featured on the sitcom Up All Night, by the way.) But I couldn't let Baba G continue to hop around in the ExerSaucer after I saw his tippy-toe preference with my own eyes.
HOWEVER, I still love the Evenflo ExerSaucer and am totally excited to reconfigure it in the S-formation and see BG go to town zooming all around it. I'll report back on how he likes it!
The Evenflo ExerSaucer Triple Fun - Jungle (yet another great (cough) product name) costs about $100 on Amazon.