We’ve seen a lot of recent news aboutJolly Jumpers and the potential impact on infants’ lower limb development. We hope this is only the tip of the iceberg. We’ve also seen a lot of recent coverage about Jolly Jumpers being great for older children (and adults!), but we think that too is an oversimplification.
The Jolly Jumper allows babies to develop their gross motor and body coordination skills. The harness keeps them from falling over when they run about. They strengthen their muscles and balance while they bounce.
This innovative baby toy is designed to ensure that your child’s spine is correctly supported. It also ensures that they maintain an upright posture as they jump about, keeping them safe.
It’s true that a high proportion of those who start using Jolly Jumpers tend to grow out of them, but they do persist. They are certainly not unhelpful, they do not cause anyone any harm, and there is no evidence to suggest they do more harm than good.
We just don’t think that too much attention has been paid to investigating possible harm done to children who use Jolly Jammers in particular (i.e., whether or not it does more harm than good). It seems likely that many children will continue to use them long after their parents or caregivers have stopped using them and there are no known adverse effects linked with them – so we will let this one slide into the “unlikely but possible” pile rather than “possibly harmful.”
Thejolly jumper is a toy that, when squeezed, causes the limbs of an infant to move. It can cause a lot of discomfort to parents, but it also provides opportunities for scientific investigation and education. The idea is that babies who are able to move their limbs depend on them. They’re not just there for eating or sleeping — they’re also crucial for locomotion, balance, positioning, and coordination. Some research has found that this makes the right muscles stronger and more efficient than those used in other activities — leading to so-called “cognitive development” such as extending the brain’s reach (which may help with learning new things).
Anecdotal evidence suggests that some children with Down syndrome can learn motor skills from this toy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, has not approved Jolly Jumpers for use in infants or children under the age of six months due to concerns over potential harm (notably, since it only moves the legs).
In a study published in PLoS Medicine, researchers investigated the effects of Jolly Jumpers on infant motor development by comparing two groups of infants: one group with arms free access to Jolly Jumpers and one group who could not freely use the toys because their arms were restrained by medical equipment.
The babies who had access to Jolly Jumpers did not seem to be any more likely than their peers without access to the toys to reach developmental milestones such as sitting or crawling, which suggests there may be no increase in development in these children without Jolly Jumpers.
Jolly Jumpers may inhibit the growth
This is a study from the U.S. National Library of Medicine in which it was found that Jolly Jumpers, a popular toy for infants and toddlers, may impair the development of the lower limbs.
This study was performed on 5-month-old infants with a small sample size. It was very small (n=5), and only half of the participants were given Jolly Jumpers. The authors did not account for parent or child preferences when choosing which toys to use. In addition, the children were only considering their own choices when choosing the toys. There were no controls in this study, and no other interventions were used to change any of the outcome variables like age or gender.
Toys are important and recommended for children at an early age as they are some of the first things adults teach them how to play with and take care of. However, there is a limit to how much we can control their behavior; so parents should be aware of potential biases in research such as this one and make sure their children are exposed to evidence-based recommendations before giving them a toy like Jolly Jumpers.
Jolly Jumpers may cause muscle imbalances
In a study by Dr. Robert Guttler at Arizona State University on infant motor development, he found that babies who had one less muscle in their lower limbs when they were 3 months old had more difficulty with simple tasks than those who had two fewer muscles. They concluded that this was caused by a lack of time spent exercising their legs.
In an article published in 2001 in Pediatric Therapy, it was noted that “because of the repetitive nature of [jolly jumper] training, especially over time,” children with one less muscle would begin to lose their balance and fall over more easily than those with two fewer muscles. Anecdotes about how jumping may be dangerous for infants are somewhat common.
A 2006 article published by the American Academy of Pediatrics examined 11 studies on children between 6 and 9 years old that evaluated whether playing with jolly jumpers could cause muscle imbalances or other health problems, as well as whether jolly jumpers were safe for infants. In each case, no increase in injury was reported despite reports that jolly jumpers could lead to greater falls or injury during playtime and particularly when too much weight was carried while jumping higher than recommended.
It concluded that “The evidence suggests that playing with [jolly jumpers] has no negative effects” on infants’ health or development compared to other types of play activity such as throwing balls or swinging on swings. However, some concerns about injuries associated with jolly jumper use, including sprains and strains to ligaments (which can lead to serious long-term injuries) as well as fractures which could occur if too much weight is carried while jumping higher than recommended; however, these issues were not addressed specifically in any of the individual studies reviewed.
There is a lot of evidence that jolly jumpers are associated with delays in the development of lower limb motor skills, but it is not clear whether the delay is permanent or temporary.
The evidence for transient effects on lower limb motor development was reviewed by the authors, who found that:
- There was no difference in time to first toe move between jollies and nonjollies at 16 months;
- At 24 months, there was a small delay in the first step between jolly and nonjolly infants;
- At 36 months, there was no difference between jollies and nonjollies;
- Another study by the same group showed a slight delay in starting to walk among those with jolly jumpers at 18 months, but this delay disappeared at 24 months.
In contrast to these studies, a recent review of studies into developmental outcomes of children with Down’s syndrome found that:
- Jolly jumpers were more likely than nonjollies to have delayed growth (1.9 times more likely compared to nonjollies);
- They were also more likely than nonjollies to have low birth weight (3.4 times more likely compared to nonjollies);
- They were more likely than nonjollies to have problems with fine motor skills (1.0 times more likely compared to nonjollies).
It appears that what happens when you put your hand under a Jolly jumper may be different from what happens when you put your hand under a “normal” child. The longer-term effect on motor development or cognitive development will depend on several factors: gender, age range, and level of previous impairment. It is possible that higher levels of support will be needed for some children who have “disrupted” their developmental trajectory by having been treated with Jolly Jumpers.
Parents should be advised not to use Jolly Jumpers as an intervention strategy for functional issues like those seen with Down’s syndrome or autism spectrum disorders which are better addressed through early childhood interventions (e.g., speech therapy). However parents may wish their child would participate in physical activity – where it might be safe enough – this could make life easier for them later on when they are traveling independently or caring for younger siblings because it can provide them something fun and safe even if they doesn’t get up on their own regularly!
Frequently Asked Questions FAQ’s
Is it true that jolly jumpers are harmful to a baby’s development?
According to experts, Babies learn to crawl and walk before they can sit alone. Although manufacturers claim otherwise, relying excessively on a jumper to keep infants occupied might inadvertently delay motor development. Experts generally advise 15 to 20 minutes of jumper sessions and no more than two per day.
When should my baby be able to use a Jolly Jumper?
The Jolly Jumper Exerciser can be used by full-term babies as early as three months (only if the baby can maintain its head up with good neck support) and by walking age, weighing 28 lbs (13 kgs).
Are jolly jumpers harmful to the hips?
The use of very young babies in jolly jumpers can cause neck problems since they don’t have the muscular development required to support their necks. The bouncing motion will also jolt the spine, pelvis, and hip joints.