I find it almost unbelievable how popular the ExerSaucer has become in American culture. Since when did we agree to put a huge piece of brightly colored plastic in our living rooms so that our infants will be entertained? I object to the ExerSaucer on so many levels I hardly know where to begin.
Besides being horrifically ugly and made of unsustainable petroleum byproducts, I object to the name. The first part “exer” seems to imply that a child will get exercise through engagement with the toy. However, all the children I’ve seen playing in them are actually moving their bodies much LESS than they would if they weren’t propped up in the huge contraption.
I also object to how it orients an infant. The recommendations I saw suggested putting infants inside as soon as they can sit unassisted. But this standing position is unnatural for babies that young to engage in for extended periods.
Usually when babies are standing with our assistance they’re doing so for a few moments at a time, on our laps and for not longer than a couple of minutes. However, I’ve seen parents leave their infants in their ExerSaucer for much longer than that. Sure, a child can relax her legs and sit in the seat, but again, I find it unnatural for a baby to be in such an upright position all alone and surrounded by brightly colored plastic toys fully 360 degrees around her body.
The other thing that concerns me about these devices is the temptation to use them. When we put our children into a device to entertain them, rather than engaging in a conversation, cooing and singing, or even leaving them to explore the floor on their own, we’re sending a disturbing message. First, we’re telling young infants that all this excitement is perfectly normal and to be expected which sets them up for boredom and disappointment when they’re one day forced to engage in the “real” world. And second, we’re telling them that we would rather put them in a huge plastic contraption than hold them and engage with them.
I also feel worried because babies seem to really enjoy these toys, which just encourages us to put them in again and again and for longer periods of time. “Oh, I’ll just pop him in his saucer while I make dinner, he loves that thing!” I suspect that what’s really happening is that babies are getting over-stimulated which can look like excitement to an untrained eye. But personally, I would MUCH rather set my infant up on a blanket nearby, or even in an infant seat or highchair, because at least they aren’t quite as obnoxious.
There, I’ve said it. I hate so many things about the ExerSaucer it’s hard to even keep track of them all. But all this negativity is getting me down, so what am I recommending INSTEAD of the saucer?
I’d like to see more families playing together, singing together, making dinner TOGETHER. I’d like to see more parents holding, cuddling, kissing, and snuggling their babies. I’d like to see more parents taking a stand against the social ‘norm’ and refusing to live with brightly colored plastic kid’s toys, choosing instead to feature a few beautifully carved wooden toys or a collection of puppets.
In fact, when I tell other parents that we don’t have any of that “plastic crap” at our house, they look at me incredulously and say things like, “How did you keep it away?! We were GIVEN most of this stuff!” To which I reply, “I told everyone the rules before my daughter was born.”
Here are my rules:
1) If it’s plastic, don’t bother giving it to me, I’ll just sell it to the re-sale baby store
2) If it’s battery operated and makes noise see above. I HATE stepping on toys and waking up babies when they make loud noises. That is NOT happening at my house.
3) If it’s wooden, yes.
4) If it’s on my Amazon wishlist (or other registry)- hooray!
Don’t think that just because you didn’t set up some boundaries before your child was born, you can’t start now. You can. Come on parents, we really are in charge here. We don’t let aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents pick out our furniture, so why would we let them pick out the toys we give to our kids? Let’s take back control of our home environments! And down with the ExerSaucer, I seriously hate those things.
Have a great week! Warmly, Shelly