Some products that we've tried have stood the test of time and remain our faves to this day. In our series 10/10 Would Recommend, we're giving the final word on well-known products that we fully stand behind.
The Jolly Jumper Exerciser, a standalone bouncer for active babies that promotes balance, muscle strength — and most importantly, parental sanity.
What Does It Do?
Invented in 1910 and mass-produced in 1948, the Jolly Jumper is the original baby exerciser. Available either as an over-the-door clamp or in a freestanding Super Stand setup, the Jolly Jumper frees up parents' hands for a few minutes while entertaining your baby like nothing else. It truly is ... well, jolly. See for yourself.
I went back and forth over whether to purchase the Super Stand or the doorway clamp, and we ended up with the latter. We simply don’t have enough space in our living room for the stand’s footprint — it’s 42 inches by 43 inches and 6 feet tall. While that configuration is perfect for backyard use, we needed something with a smaller footprint for our somewhat cramped 1960s ranch home. (If you do buy the stand, just note that it folds down flat for storage.)
Both versions of the Jolly Jumper come with the same spine-supporting, machine washable seat. You simply Velcro, buckle, and snap them in. I say “simply” sarcastically. It takes a bit of practice to get your baby into the saddle by yourself. Especially when they realize what’s coming and start jumping before anything is secured!
The first few times we used it, I removed the saddle from the chain to secure him in a laying down position (as the instructions advise). But I soon realized I could fasten him with the jumper still attached. It involves some Houdini-esque maneuvers and a firm grip on your kiddo, so proceed with caution.
We started using the Jolly Jumper at 5 months of age for James. Aside from the fact that it was on backorder for a month (more on that later), the company lists the jumper as suitable for babies when they can hold their own head up with full neck support. For us, that was not until James was 5 months old. Not sure if your baby is ready to explore such a device? Consult your doctor.
Jumpers, like baby swings, bouncers, and almost anything else for kids, can be a point of contention. Is prolonged use going to have a negative impact on your child's development? It could — but it depends on you making educated parental decisions for your child. According to Chicago physical therapist Dr. Sajani Parikh, DPT, who spoke with Romper, "it's recommended that things like jumpers and exersaucers are only used 10 to 15 minutes a day at the most."
My takeaway? Moderation is key.
Why Do I Love It?
At about 5 months old, we realized James wanted to move. Not just roll and explore during tummy time, but jump and bounce. All in the same week, he started using my thighs as a trampoline and we saw little baby Theo of @samsonthedood using his Jolly Jumper on Instagram. I put two and two together and started hunting for a jumper to add to our den of children's toys.
Unfortunately for us, we were looking to buy our Jolly Jumper at the same time seemingly every parent in America realized they needed more indoor activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jolly Jumpers were sold out or backordered everywhere. You can literally see the increase in Jolly Jumper search interest using Google Ads tools — it went from an average of 14,000 people searching a month to 40,500 in May and June of 2020. Parents, we feel you, and we were thinking the exact same thing.
By early June, it arrived! We clamped ours over a door jam in the living room and James took to the jumper right away. Want to take a work call? Put that baby in the jumper. Need a minute to drink your coffee? Put that baby in the jumper. Need to go to the bathroom? Take that baby with you. Yes, you read that right — never leave your baby unattended in the Jolly Jumper. Like most bouncers, swings, and jumpers for babies, the Jolly Jumper requires adult supervision AT ALL TIMES.
We like to get creative with our jump time. We put crinkly floor blankets underneath him so he can hear how his feet create sounds. We put his Lovevery bell socks on his feet and let him explore what it sounds like to be in control of the bells. Some of that ingenuity James has made up on his own — specifically, the game we now call “kill Sophie” — we put a Sophie the Giraffe under his jump space and he aims his feet to squeak her as he jumps. I know, the name is awful, but it's a highly entertaining game.
The Final Word
Babies are exhausting. That's all.
But, seriously, babies are exhausting. If you need 10 to 15 minutes of hands-free time and your baby needs to get some wiggles out, we highly recommend the Jolly Jumper. We took it on vacation and hung it from a bathroom doorway. We took it camping and hung it over a tree limb. I'm dreading the day we have to pack it away! On that note, you should retire your Jolly Jumper when baby starts to walk.
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