There are three different styles of entertainers: activity centers, traditional walkers, and jumpers, and although they have some similar features, they are very different.
1. Activity Centers - These have a circular frame with a rotating seat in the center and a surrounding tray with toys attached. Some models have a bounce feature, helping to build baby's leg muscles. All models have a rocking feature; some include a kickstand that inhibits rocking for play or snack time.
- Resemble walkers without the wheels, making them a safer alternative to traditional walkers.
- Keeps baby relatively safe in one spot, freeing up the parents to get some household chores done.
2. Traditional Walkers - Consist of molded plastic or metal frame with a suspended center seat and wheels attached to the base. Select models will fold flat for easy storage and travel, and some models have a kickstand that locks the unit in a stationary position. Models will have either two front or four swivel wheels, making turning easier for baby.
- Units are large and take up quite a bit of space.
- Gives baby a quick way to get around before he/she can walk.
- Walkers can strengthen lower leg muscles.
- All models have brake pads that activate on contact with an edge or uneven surface to significantly reduce further motion.
3. Jumpers - Moving, spinning and jumping in a baby jumper enhances motor skills. Jumpers come in two different styles: doorway jumpers and free-standing jumpers.
- Walkers are not recommended for use on carpeted areas.
- Baby can quickly move from one place to another, keeping the care giver on their toes.
- Older children can climb on it causing the walker to tip over.
Doorway Jumpers - Consist of a seat suspended from two or more straps, which are attached to a bar or frame and hung from the top of a door frame.
- The unit is completely portable and does not take up a lot of storage space.
- Select models have a spring-loaded clamp that won't mark door moldings.
- Certain models have a plastic dome that keeps straps apart to simplify getting the baby in and out of the jumper.
Free-standing Jumpers - Consists of a fabric seat attached to a lightweight, circular frame that rests on the floor. The seats are supported by springs and positioned so that the baby's feet touch the floor while seated, allowing them to push up with their feet.
- They can only be used in doorways with molding.
- Should not be left in the door frame when not in use.
- More stable compared to doorway jumpers.
- Rubber pads or non-skid feet prevents the unit from moving while baby jumps.
- Most free-standing models fold, allowing parents to carry the unit from room to room.
FEATURES TO CONSIDER
- Units are large, taking up a lot of space.
- They are heavy and can be difficult to move from room to room even when folded.
- Select models will convert from a playmat to an activity center to a play table, making the item usable from birth to toddler years.
- Some models combine all or some of the different styles of entertainers creating an all-in-one or a two-in-one model such as:
- Walker/jumper/activity center
- Activity center/walker or walk behind
- All models have developmental and interactive toys to help develop important sensory and motor skills.
- The baby's actions make things happen, helping baby to understand cause and effect.
- Reaching and grasping onto the entertainer's toys fosters eye-hand coordination.
- Colorful toys, fun sounds, lights and music stimulate baby's visual and auditory senses.
- Some electronic toys require batteries.
- Certain models have removable toys that can be used on the go or for tummy time.
- Select models can introduce a bi-lingual language into a child's early learning vocabulary.
3- Adjustable Height
- All units have adjustable height positions, allowing the unit to grow with your baby.
- Height adjustment is located in the seat for activity centers, walkers, and free-standing jumpers.
- Doorway style jumpers have height adjustable straps.
- Activity centers and free-standing jumpers have a 360-degree swivel seat that allows baby easy access to tray and toys.
- Some models have removable seat pads that can be machine washed, while others can only be spot cleaned.