How the test was made
We carry out all of our tests ourselves and test all products in real conditions. For our best-in-test reviews of baby bouncers, we have used a number of parameters to arrive at a score. At the end of each review, we have also taken into account the price level, as a baby bouncer can cost anything between £20 and £200, and we think the functions should reflect the cost.
Functions: Can the baby bouncer be folded up, can the backrest be angled and can it be changed between swinging and locked in a fixed position?
Fabric: Is the material friendly to the child's skin, is the fabric organic and can it be washed or otherwise cleaned?
The bounce: If the bouncing action is soft or jerky, can the child get the baby bouncer to move and keep the bounce going, or do you constantly have to help?
We primarily had families with children under 6 months try out the different baby bouncer models, but in cases where the manufacturer allows for longer use, children have also tested the functions over a whole year. Most baby bouncers have no age limit, but they do often have a recommended age for best use.
BabyBjörn's Balance Soft baby bouncer has its roots in an original design from the 1960s, which means it's been around for 50 years. That's impressive! It also means we shouldn't be surprised when we realise that BabyBjörn dominates our test of baby bouncers in terms of both function and quality – practice makes perfect. A good baby bouncer should be mobile and simple, and BabyBjörn has brilliantly combined those features. It's easy to fold the Balance Soft completely flat to store out of the way or take on trips. Moving it around the home is no problem either, and the size of the baby bouncer is flexible enough to work as a seat on the bathroom floor while you take a shower, even if your bathroom is very small. The seat part is designed with a clear hollow for the baby's bottom, which allows the child to sit safely and solidly in the right position. The baby bouncer can be moved into three different positions and it has a resting position that's good enough for the child to sleep comfortably. Attaching the child into the bouncer can be done both easily and silently. When the child is bigger, you can also reverse the fabric and use the Balance Soft as a little armchair.
The bounce in BabyBjörn's baby bouncers is phenomenal. With one foot on the frame, you can easily get a good tempo going, and a bigger baby can set it going by themselves. The cover for the BabyBjörn Balance Soft is made from a range of different materials, including a seat cover to keep the child cool in the summer and another in soft, luxuriously soft jersey. The cover can be completely removed from the frame and washed in the machine, which feels like a must-have given the target group's ability to make a mess. A toy bar can be purchased separately and attached to the baby bouncer's frame. This accessory was much appreciated by our test babies, and we definitely recommend it. All of our testers are in agreement that the BabyBjörn Balance Soft is so good that even in their wildest imaginations they can't think of any room for improvement. The price is high, but if you can afford it our recommendation is that it's more than worth the money to invest in a BabyBjörn Balance Soft.
The Stokke Steps Bouncer is a premium price class baby bouncer, but is worth the money, particularly if you also choose to buy Stokke's Stokke Steps high chair, as you can attach the baby bouncer to it. Then you get a really good seating solution for your child, from newborn up to school age. As a separate baby bouncer, the Stokke Steps Bouncer isn't quite so impressive. But the quality is uniform and high, and it does actually tick off all of the things you'd want. The baby bouncer can be moved into four different positions. The most reclined works very well for the newborn child and the seat is comfortable thanks to the infant insert included with the Stokke Steps Bouncer. The insert efficiently fills up the seat unit, giving the baby support for both body and head. To change between positions, you rotate a catch on the underside of the baby bouncer. The most upright seating position gives great bounce, which means that the slightly larger baby can set it going themselves.
Without the infant insert, there's plenty of room even for slightly larger babies in the Stokke Steps Bouncer, and a toy bar is included for the more alert baby. This can be clicked in on each side of the baby bouncer, and removed completely if you don't want to use it. You can attach your own toys or other eye-catching objects to the toy bar. If you want to take the baby bouncer on a trip with you, it's easy to fold it completely flat, in which position it's only about 10 cm deep. It's still quite wide and long, but the format makes it easy to pack. The bouncer gets an extra plus for the small rubber fastener which you can lock it flat with so that you don't accidentally unfold the baby bouncer when you pick it up. We can't actually mark the Stokke Steps Bouncer down for anything, but for the high price we'd have liked to have had more. However, if you intend to invest in the whole Stokke Steps package, the baby bouncer is without doubt worth the money.
The Nuna Leaf is a baby bouncer with a difference, and one that also manages to satisfy the majority of our requirements. The Leaf is a premium product. This is clear from the price, but also in the design and material choice. The baby bouncer simply feels luxurious, and the ball bearing used is very high quality. Because the Nuna Leaf doesn't bounce up and down as we've grown accustomed to baby bouncers doing. Instead it swings forwards and backwards horizontally. This means that the effect for the child is different, but the soft movement can have a very calming and soporific effect. You can set the Nuna Leaf in movement with a light push, and it then bounces actively for so long that you actually begin to wonder whether there's a hidden motor inside it. There isn't, but you can buy one as an accessory. The Nuna Leaf can't be adjusted, but has one single fixed angle. The position is well chosen and works very well for most children. But a baby who's a few months older and who wants to see the world around a little better will want to sit more upright.
The Nuna Leaf can't be folded up, so it's less suitable for taking with you when you travel. You can remove the foot from the seat with a tool, making the Leaf more compact for long-term storage. But you can't get over the fact that the Nuna Leaf is big. Because it bounces sideways it does take up quite a lot of space when it's in use. For those with limited living space, it can be difficult to find a good position for the Leaf, and in the smaller bathroom there may not be space at all. The Nuna Leaf is stable and there's no risk of it tipping over. The cover is made from baby-friendly Oeko-tex approved fabric and can be removed for washing. The bouncer has a separate seat cushion for even easier cleaning. We would have like the harness that keeps the child in place to have had quieter velcro so that you don't risk waking the child with it. A toy holder and sunscreen can be purchased separately. If you know that your baby enjoys swinging movements and you have space in your home, the Nuna Leaf is a top quality, well-built product, although with a rather steep price tag.
The Bumbo Floor Seat is a unique product. In one respect it fulfils roughly the same function as a traditional baby bouncer. But at the same time, the Bumbo's appearance and design are completely different. The Bumbo Floor Seat is intended for use from around 3 months, and it helps the baby to sit upright by supporting the back and holding the legs and bottom in the right position. This type of sitting is usually most appreciated by babies who are starting to get a bit bored with the reclining bounce offered by a normal baby bouncer and want to be a little more upright so they can see around better. This also means that you use the Bumbo differently. A baby bouncer can be a comfortable resting place and is also excellent for a tired child who may even have a nap in it. The Bumbo Floor Seat requires more active effort from the child and is therefore often used for shorter but more intensive sessions.
The total use period is also shorter for a Bumbo Floor Seat than for a traditional baby bouncer. This is often 2-4 months, when the child is strong enough to sit with support from the Bumbo, but can't sit on their own. As soon as the child can sit on their own, the Bumbo has played its role. At the same time, the price is affordable and the Bumbo is easy to keep clean, so you can easily sell it on when your own baby is too big for it. We recommend that you buy the tray, which increases the price but makes it easier to keep the baby happy to be sitting in the Bumbo. Without the tray, any toys that the baby drops end up on the floor, and the height of the Bumbo means that the child can't reach them. For the baby who is curious about growing up and trying out the art of sitting upright, we think that the Bumbo can be very useful. But it can't really compare with the multi functionality and long use period of a baby bouncer.
The Chicco Pocket Relax is a baby bouncer with many functions, the most unique of which is that it can be folded up lengthways, widthways and in terms of height. You do this in two stages using buttons that you press in. The Pocket Relax includes a storage case that makes it easy to take the baby bouncer on your travels. The cover is in polyester and is easy to wipe clean, but can also be completely removed to be hand washed. The fact that the baby bouncer can be cleaned is positive, but this type of material easily gets sweaty and it sometimes feels a bit plasticky against the child's skin. A removable cushion in a softer fabric would have been better. The Chicco Pocket Relax has three different reclined positions for the back support, and can also be changed between fixed and bouncing position. The fixed position is good if the baby bouncer is to be used as a high chair. However, we would have liked the bouncing position to have more bounce. The current design means that it never really gets going with the movement we want to see in a good baby bouncer.
The Pocket Relax baby bouncer can be used from newborn, but the seat unit is very flat and doesn't have a good dished shape to hold the baby in the right position, which means that it works best with slightly older babies. We'd also have liked to see a good neck support to give a newborn child extra support for the head and neck. The design of the baby bouncer also makes it even more important to make sure the child is properly secured with the harness over the hips. The major advantage of the Chicco Pocket Relax is that it's easy to fold up and take with you when you travel or if you're visiting a friend. But for optimal function we'd have liked it to be as easy to move the baby bouncer inside the home. Unfortunately it has neither carrying straps nor any other type of handle. The idea of the baby bouncer is good, but the execution is a little lacking for us to be satisfied. Better bounce, a carrying handle and some kind of cushion to provide better comfort for the baby would have given the Chicco Pocket Relax a much better score.