Parents with a second child on the way or thinking about buying secondhand baby stuff are probably wondering if baby bouncers expire.
Baby bouncers do not expire and do not have an expiration date, but proper care is necessary while storing them to help them last longer. Special attention should be paid to any secondhand or used baby bouncers to ensure that there are no damaged or broken pieces that could make them dangerous for your baby.
Babies accumulate a ton of stuff during their first few years so smart parents are always on the lookout for a way to save by reusing something like a baby bouncer for their second baby or buying a used one for the first. Let’s look into these questions as well as see how we should store baby bouncers long-term.
Do baby bouncers expire?
Unlike some other baby equipment and accessories, baby bouncers don’t usually expire or even have an expiration date. Don’t worry about using an older bouncer as long as it is clean and in good repair.
It’s common to find expiration dates on other baby products to help inform parents and prevent them from putting their baby into a risky situation. Great examples include dates on baby formula to indicate when the food will spoil before opening or on car seats to show how long they will be effective in the event of an accident.
Baby bouncers don’t have one of these expiration dates because they don’t include materials that are likely to degrade over time and they aren’t required to absorb impacts or provide any other special safety features that your baby would need. There is also no safety rating compliance requirement for baby bouncers.
By the way, just to be sure that you know what I’m talking about when I say baby bouncer, I mean the large reclining chairs that you can rock with your foot and sometimes have motorized bouncing or vibrations. Usually, parents use these to help soothe, entertain, or even put their babies to sleep. These accessories aren’t cheap, so it’s good that we don’t have to worry about dealing with a shelf life on this particular baby item.
Rather than worrying too much about how old a baby bouncer is because of an expiration date that doesn’t exist, you should really be concerning yourself about which features the bouncer includes and if it has been taken care of properly by the previous owner. Just like other baby stuff, used baby bouncers have probably seen their fair share of baby poop, formula, drool, and other miscellaneous fluids and accidents.
How long do baby bouncers last?
The average baby bouncer should last for a very long time if treated right. I’ve read from many parents that they are using bouncers that are over ten years old without any issues. Of course, it’s hard to say what a real-life estimate would be for these because it’s very possible that the chairs were used for a couple of years and then put into storage.
In most cases, you can expect a baby bouncer chair to last between 2-5 years of normal use before things start falling apart. Of course, this is just an average and your experience could be different than this.
Baby bouncers have a very simple design that isn’t likely to have a lot of failure points, but any motor in the unit will be an exception to this. Since it’s the only thing with sensitive, moving parts, the motor will be prone to failure after a certain amount of time in service. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell how much the motor has been used when you are buying a used baby bouncer or even accepting one secondhand as a gift. Given the cost of replacement, it’s probably not worth the money to try and replace a burnt-out motor if it does go bad – just get a new one or use the bouncer without it!
I’ve reached out to a couple of the biggest baby bouncer manufacturers in the market, and I’ll update this post if I have heard back from them about warranty limitations, timeframes, and other general information about fixing a broken bouncing chair.
Taking care of your baby bouncer
Your typical bouncer chair will have a vibration motor built into a plastic box, metal or plastic frame, foam padding, and cloth coverings. Any of these materials can get dirty or broken during regular use, so you should have a system in place to make sure that your maintenance routine keeps the bouncer running for as long as possible.
According to Fisher-Price, one of the biggest suppliers of baby bouncers, this is what you should do to take care of your bouncer:
- Remove the pad by unfastening the retainers and clips. Lift it up and over the footrest.
- Wash the pad in the washing machine separately with cold water on the gentle cycle. Avoid bleach. Tumble dry the pad separately on low heat.
- Wipe down the frame and any attached accessories or toys with a mild cleaning solution and a damp cloth. Avoid bleach or abrasives. Rinse clean if needed.
From my personal experience, you should NOT let any spills, leaks, or other accidents sit for any length of time because they can quickly get down into the foam padding. Depending on the unit, it could be VERY difficult to clean that padding out and things like milk or poo will definitely stink.
What kind of batteries do baby bouncers use?
Most baby bouncers are going to use one D-sized battery. Sometimes you might need a second battery and some models might actually take two C-sized batteries or something else. Be sure to check your instruction manual for the correct specifications. If you are buying this as a gift and want to make sure that the recipient can use it right away, then check the box or look online for a digital copy of the instruction manual.
Here are the links to where you will find the manuals for a couple of the most popular brands:
When to stop using your baby bouncer
Like any other piece of baby equipment, you should always be on the lookout for any issues that could prevent your baby from using it because it’s no longer safe. Even though these things aren’t safety equipment, per se, there is still a risk of injury if something is broken or you aren’t using it correctly.
Your baby could still use her bouncer even if the motor has gone out because it just means that function won’t be available. Any structural issues with the bouncer itself, however, can’t be overlooked. Once a frame is bent, for instance, it will be weaker forever, even if you bend it back. Also, your baby will only get heavier over time, so relatively minor issues can become major issues quickly!
Pay attention to any size or weight limitations that the manufacturer lists for your bouncer model to make sure that you aren’t letting your baby use it for too long. They usually specify that once your baby can sit up unassisted, it’s time to stop using the bouncer chairs because they are more likely to wiggle out and fall.
Buying a used baby bouncer
With what we’ve covered so far, you can probably imagine that it’s perfectly fine to buy a used baby bouncer as long as it’s in good repair. You will find no shortage of baby stuff, including bouncers, on places like Craigslist, Facebook groups, and consignment stores.
Since baby bouncers are usually pretty big and bulky, I would recommend that you buy a used one locally, if at all possible. This will save you on shipping costs, which could be just as expensive as the bouncer itself. Plus, you can check it out before you buy it.
Be mindful that unless you are buying from a consignment store, you aren’t likely to be able to get any return policy or support if something goes wrong or you change your mind about the purchase. With that being said, here are a few tips to help avoid heartache if you are buying a bouncer locally from another person (probably a stranger!):
- Be sure to check the operation of the unit’s motor. Do NOT let the seller tell you that the batteries are just dead and it will work fine once it has a new set. This could be a cover for a burnt-out motor. Bring your own batteries if you can to be sure.
- Turn on any other features that the bouncer has such as a spinning mobile or other attached accessories and toys to be sure they work.
- Look over the frame to see if it is bent, broken, or missing pieces.
- Don’t forget to check the cloth material and any foam padding underneath if you can get to it. Give it a little sniff to be sure there aren’t any mystery substances in there that you should be worried about.
Once you are satisfied that you can buy the chair, yell that it isn’t acceptable for your child and stomp away from the seller. This will set the stage for haggling a lower price.
Pay that poor mom or dad selling their used baby bouncer – we are all just trying to survive as parents here!
How to store a baby bouncer for the next baby
If you are done using your bouncer chair with your baby and you want to get it out of the house while still saving it for the next baby then you will need to take a few precautions beforehand. Avoid potential issues down the road by doing these things instead of just throwing it out into the storage building:
- Remove the batteries from the chair! The batteries will slowly discharge over time but the real worry here is that they will bust or leak battery acid if left unattended. This could cause corrosion in the battery compartment and potentially damage the chair.
- If you can, take the whole bouncer apart and store it back in the original box. Before you do that, take a couple of pictures just in case you later decide you want to sell it instead of keeping it. This will save you time and trouble later!
- Wash and dry any removable pads and cloth before long-term storage.
- Avoid putting the chair somewhere with excessive moisture or any dry, hot places.