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Bouncy Babies

Your not-yet-mobile infant still wants to jump and jiggle, but you can't always have her on your knee. Fortunately there are alternatives that will keep you sane  -- and your baby safely entertained.

BOUNCER SEATS

Most of these are wire-framed fabric chairs that come with a bar that holds plastic toys, a removable washable pad, and a fabric harness that keeps your child securely in place. Because they're angled, they provide a satisfying view of the world for increasingly curious babies up to about 9 months old. (Once a baby reaches 25 pounds or can sit unassisted, she's no longer safe in a bouncer seat  -- she could tip it over.) Some we like:

DELUXE SOOTHING BOUNCER SEAT

This colorful seat not only keeps babies busy (the toy bar's removable), it calms them, thanks to a battery-powered vibrator that mimics the feel of a car ride. $24, from Fisher-Price.

EXERSAUCER BABY

It may look like it's made for the slopes, but this concave, plastic-based oval, is designed for dry land. It can rock or be braced to stand still. Once your baby outgrows the saucer (at around 6 months), you can remove the gym bar and let it entertain him on solid ground. $40, from Evenflo.

COMFORT SEAT

Includes a toy bar and removable cushiony back support. $45, from Summer.

STATIONARY ACTIVITY CENTERS

Safer than walkers, these typically consist of a plastic table with a cushioned seat in the middle that swivels 360 degrees. Most have toys attached, and are perfect for kids who're able to sit unaided and support most of their weight with their legs. When in one, a baby should be able to touch both of her feet to the floor, with her waist at or below table level. (Once she can walk, exceeds 32 inches in height, or weighs 30 pounds, a play station is no longer safe or suitable.) A few models to consider:

BOUNCER AND ENTERTAINMENT TABLE

The accordion-pleated legs let a child bounce, the rotating seat moves smoothly for a full view of her surroundings, and the table features a handful of built-in toys, plus plenty of room for other favorites. And when she outgrows it, this activity center, converts to a play table. Bonus: It comes assembled. $30, from Baby Trend, Inc.

EXERSAUCER PLUS

Has six built-in toys. $45, from Evenflo. Note: Crawling helps develop a baby's muscles, so she shouldn't be in a bouncer or play center for long periods of time.

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