Pros: 40 lb weight limit, built-in external speaks
Cons: Awful placement of on/off switch for vibrating
When I started sharing with friends that I was pregnant with our third child in as many years I got an awful lot of Well at least you dont need to buy anything. True, we had all of the big items like car seats and cribs, but that didnt mean we didnt need more stuff. One of our best new purchases is the Baby Einstein Baby to Toddler Rocker.
This is a rather large infant style bouncer/rocking chair and takes up about 3 square feet of floor space. The seat is covered in blue and purple soft aquatic themed washable cover. The seat back is at a single fixed recline angle. The high sides function to keep baby from slipping sideways as well as armrests for older children. There is a kickstand in the back to stop the gentle rocking motion. There is a three point harness to keep baby secured and it is rated for toddler up to 40 lbs.
The seat plays a total of 8 classical tunes, 4 tunes designed for playtime and 4 for nap time. There is also a setting for nature white noise sounds and 3 volume levels. The seat also has a gentle vibrate function. All of this operates on 3 C batteries, which are not included. Alternately you can store an MP3 or CD player in a pouch under the seat and play any music through the two speakers.
There are two toys included with the seat. One arched mobile with three hanging toys, a squeaky puffer fish, a star fish with a mirror in the middle and a crab rattle. The bar rotates toward the baby and away to make it easy to get the baby in and out. The other toy is an octopus with 4 toys dangling from its arms. One is a fish shaped hollow teething ring, a rubber shell shaped teether, a baby octopus rattle and a clear plastic rattle. Pulling on the fish makes the whole toy vibrate. Both toys have a peg on the bottom to fit into holes on the sides of the seat.
Buying a New Seat
The Little Guy has what we call happy feet. When he is happy his legs are going a mile a minute. He had been using the same bouncy seat that his sisters and nephew had used. It was a simple basic seat that really sent him bouncing up and down when he kicked. Unfortunately by about 6 months he no longer really fit in the seat so we set about finding something else.
We already had an exasaucer, but he still needed another place to sit and play safely that went over 25 lbs. We looked at the Fisher Price infant to toddler rocker but it didnt rock easily no matter how hard he kicked. It also had only a single toy bar. The only other option was the Baby Einstein Rocker.
Most babies have outgrown a typical bouncy seat by 6 months. Since this chair is so much larger than the norm it is a seat you can continue to use for a number of years. Our 2 ? year old fits in the seat easily and seems to really like it. It is wide enough for her to sit Indian style. Even though she is over the weight limit that has not stopped our 4 year old from giving the seat a try as well. Since she is so much taller she can sit with her back against the seat and with her feet on the ground and use it as an actually rocking chair. This chair is going to last us a good long time.
Although I thought it was a silly feature when we bought the seat, I do use the built in speakers with a portable CD player quite a bit. James Taylor has a soothing effect on all of my children so he is frequently heard singing from the seat. Since we use this seat a lot while the girls take a bath the familiar music keeps The Little Guy happy when his sisters beg for a few more minute in the tub.
The cover washes nicely even though it is a bit of a pain to take off and put on. There are a couple of buckles and Velcro flaps to work and the cover is a tight fit over the frame. Since we are well past the constant spit-up stage this is not an issue for us, but it is something to consider if you plan to keep the seat cover scrupulously clean. It washes fine and we hang it to dry.
Of course, most importantly, The Little Guy loves his seat. The wide soft seat lets him sit happily and play. The high sides keep his loose toys on the seat and not on the floor. He can both lean back and relax or sit up on his own. Although it does not rock and bounce as much as the old seat it does move some, especially when the seat is on the wood or tile floor. The kick stand does stop all movement, but it is a feature we rarely use.
The Not So Good
Assembly seemed to be a pain. I watched as my husband spent close to 45 minutes fiddling and getting frustrated with the seat. Of course once you get the seat together you wont be taking it apart so it is a one time hassle.
The included toys are not well designed. The toys hanging from the toy bar are too far away for him to get in his mouth, and for a while is all he wanted to do. No matter how I rotate the toy bar for him all he can do is pull and bat at the toys. I fixed this buy hanging additional toys from the bar for him to chew on. The octopus isnt much better. No baby is strong enough to pull the vibrating fish and it only provides about 2 seconds of vibration. When the octopus is set in place he cant really reach it to play with. He has no problem pulling it off to play with it, but it doesnt seem to hold his interest as much as other toys.
We dont use the vibration or music features that often. I think those would have been more useful when he was an infant. Although the seat does seem to have a steep angle I compared it our other vibrating bouncy seat and the angles are about the same and my kids had no trouble sitting in them as newborns. The seat belt adjusts down to accommodate small babies and out enough to fit over our 9 month old. The few times that we used the music features, I found the songs to be over too soon and he would start to fuss. If I went over to turn the music on again he would expect to be picked up so turning the music on again resulted in a fit. An external music device is a much better idea.
I find it hard to believe that the button placement was ever tested in a real world situation. The extremely sensitive vibrating buttons is located on the front of the seat. Every time my daughter climbs into the seat she turns on the vibration. More often than not when we move the seat the vibrating starts up as well. And unlike the music that turns off it 10 minutes, the vibrating function continues to eat battery power until you turn it off. The music function requires turning a large, but easy to manipulate dial to ensure you cant turn it on accidentally. A simple slide switch instead of a push button to control the vibrating function would eliminate all of that accidental vibration. Considering how much accidental time the chair spends on, plus our sue time, the battery usage has been great. We are still on our first set of C batteries.
Should You Buy the Baby Einstein Rocker
Despite its design flaws I still recommend this infant to toddler rocker. The 25 lb weight limit on most bouncers isnt high enough for larger babies so the Baby Einstein Rocker solves that problem. The built in speakers get more use than I ever thought and battery use is great. If you want a seat to grow with your child this is comfortable for babies and toddlers alike.
This has been an entry in the Drive the CL's Crazy W/O - a.k.a. Expand the Data Base W/O hosted by captaind