Stationary Solitary Confinement
- What: Evenflo Exersaucer and the like
- When: Ages four months to crawling
- Why not: Bulky, expensive, limited age range
- Where: Amazon
I can’t stand Exersaucer, those giant circular play centers for infants. I’ve had an aversion to them since I first used one more than 15 years ago, and I haven’t changed my mind.
I don’t like the idea of kids being parked in a bunch of plastic and entertaining themselves. Mind you, I love when a baby entertaining themselves. But I think it’s easy to plop a kid into one of these type entertainment centers and walk away. Fifteen minutes in one of these contraptions seems like no big deal, but suddenly fifteen minutes has turned into thirty or more while you try to get dinner on the table and the time really adds up.
I like that the center spins, so kids get a sense of action and reaction. I also approve of being able to switch the toys out, so they don’t get bored. Most Exersaucers also have a small tray where parents can dump o’s or other small bits of food to stretch the entertainment fun even further.
But the sheer size (two and half a feet square and two or more feet high) outweighed any usefulness, especially in small spaces. It took up more room than an upholstered armchair or rocking chair, which are actual pieces of furniture and not something for babies to use for a few minutes at a time. I find a quality play mat or even a Johnny Jump Up that hangs in the doorway can provide similar entertainment and take up way less real estate. And don’t get me started on the cost of these things. I simply don’t think it’s worth the investment.
I’ve seen several kids be able to tip them over as well. Ours came with feet to keep it steady for smaller babies. Once kids get bigger, the feet fold under, so the Exersaucer sits on a curved base. It fits kids from 7 to 30 pounds, though I can’t imagine putting a 7 pound baby in one, ever.
Our Exersaucer had adjustable legs so it could grow with your child, but even then it wasn’t meant for under four months or once they started crawling (or could tip it, a very real possibility that requires minimal effort on your child’s part), which gives it a very narrow time frame in the general scheme of kid stuff.
That being said, we bought one secondhand to use. I used it a lot with our first child, not as much with our second, and hardly at all with our third. I don’t think running out of room had much to do with using it less as we filled up our house more. I also suspect that once our third kid came along, we spent more time out of the house going to various schools and activities so we had less time to entertain our youngest at home.