Pros: Fun for baby, freedom for mommy, easy to clean up and store
Cons: No manual on website, can't add batteries later.
When my son hit four months, I was sweating getting anything done. He was in a phase of wanting to be held all the time, rebelling from his usual favorite Fisher Price Aquarium Cradle swing. I think he learned that's where I want him to sleep, and sleep was something he was doing much less. HELP!
I drove over to Walmart, my second favorite store after Target, which is a further drive. They had about six of these activity centers that were approved for a four-month-old and this one was not the cheapest or the most expensive, but was the most brightly colored and had the most toys. I paid about $60 for it. The range of the other choices was about $35 to over $100.
Putting the thing together
My four-year-old helped me unpack it and intuitively placed the pieces right about where they were supposed to go. It just needed mommy's sense of order and strength to complete the job in about 20, maybe 25 minutes. The one thing I did wrong was NOT following the advice about putting the batteries into the farmhouse piece before I connected it. I didn't have the batteries on hand (BAD Mommy!). You need 3 AAA's and unlike many toys nowadays, they're not included.
Now I can't get the farmhouse out of the darn thing, it's stuck. And I looked for the manual, because I keep all my manuals, but who knows where. So, I logged on to Evenflo's website and was surprised to find they don't list their manuals online. This is very unusual. I Google'd evenflo exersaucer manual and found a very charming blog where another mom was venting about Evenflo's horrible website and customer service. So I'll just keep looking for my manual and go on loving this exersaucer. Trying to talk to customer service might give the lovely thing a bad connotation.
How the baby likes it
Well, he took to it right away, even though he couldn't sit unassisted yet. The chair has a high enough back that he is stable until he's tired. When he starts to list a little, I know he's ready for a nap. In fact, I think this thing really does exercise him as he plays and laughs and then magically within about 30 minutes, he's sleepy. Hurray for me!
He really is developing his senses using it, as Evenflo promises. The first time he spun the little rattle cage with the chickens (by accident), he bellowed like something bit him. Then he went right back to it and spun it himself, and for at least a week, it was the only toy he played with. Now he plays with the food tray, which has all sorts of interesting bumps and grooves. He looks at the other colorful toys and in the mirror, but at almost six months he isn't interested enough in the animals to give them the time of day.
He does love spinning around and standing up, and his legs are getting much stronger. I think he's be standing before he's sitting up on his own.
The promotional material for this exersaucer says the seat rocks, but I certainly haven't seen this.
Interestingly, my four-year-old also likes playing with these toys, from outside of it of course.
I was able to start my four-month old in it and he was stable enough to give me a few minutes of a time out of sight (but close enough to hear him cry and be back in a flash). He's never had an accident, but sometimes he does get his arm stuck to his side and I just lift it and put it back on the rim and he goes back to playing.
Now at almost six months, he is on the second height setting because he was flat-footed and could push himself up enough that I could reasonably expect he might be able to launch himself out of it. Nothing like that has happened though and once I very easily raised the height, he's back to bouncing.
There are seven toys, one which would make music if I'd put in the batteries. I don't think he misses the music though, he's happy enough to touch and look and turn and bounce.
There's a swinging piggy that's dirty on one side and clean on the other. There's a horse that moves from side to side and makes a noise, a farmhouse that sings with batteries, a sheep that just sways, a chicken rattle that can make babies scream or laugh, a sliding number toy, and a cow that has three different-colored sliders. And a mirror, which is a test to see if you're baby thinks he's handsome or not. Mine does.
The seat spins around easily to give the baby access to all the toys, and to watch you move around the room. The saucer itself does not move, just the seat.
No problem. My son's a spitter and I can easily wipe up the mess from the rim, between the toys, and off the seat with a Lysol antibacterial wipe.
The height adjusts very easily by pulling tabs and lifting the three legs.
I've only folded the thing up once, but it was very easy.
This device does have a sort of large footprint for the car or small rooms. I measured it and it takes up an area of about 4' x 4'.
Since I can't get the farmhouse out to add the batteries, I don't know how you'd feasibly change batteries either.
All in All
It was worth the $60 for the amusement it gives my son (and daughter), the bursts of freedom it gives me, and the way it preps my son for a nap. I also notice a distinct elevation in his interest in touching objects after using this activity center.
UPDATE 5 months later
My son still loves to play in this exersaucer, and it buys me at least an hour of nearby freedom. At 9 months, he is using the highest setting.
He now loves all the animals but he has teeth and the paint is scraping off. I called Evenflo using the ParentLink number listed on their website and am happy to report that they were very courteous.
They answered the phone within 5 minutes, and reassured me that the paint on their toys is water-based and non-toxic. I of course will not let him play with toys whose paint is chipping off, and they offered without my asking to replace the toys.
In addition they are paying for return shipment so their engineers can look into the problem. The newer Exersaucer I bought with the bees has not had any problems with paint chipping (all the toys seem to be colored plastic, rather than painted).