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Safer Baby Bouncing

If your baby loves her doorway jumper -- those bungee-style infant seats that hang from a clamp on your door frame -- let her bounce away. The dangers have been overstated, says Rachel Zang, M.D., a pediatrician in Silver Spring, MD. "If installed correctly, there's very little potential for babies to hurt their knees or ankles," she says. "Only the child's toes should touch the floor so she can't land with a hard enough impact to do damage." And since 4- and 5-month-olds are just gaining real motor control of their legs, she adds, they instinctively love to bounce. Still, if you'd simply rather avoid jumpers altogether, and the usual substitute, the stationary activity center, gets boring, try Dr. Zang's leg-pumping alternatives.

Be a human Jumparoo Grab your baby under the arms, hold her so her feet are just touching the floor, and voilĂ . "Your kid's going to bounce up and down the whole time," says Dr. Zang. "They love it."

Enhance tummy time Add a large, firm pillow (like a body pillow) at her feet, to allow her to push off, or place her play mat at your baseboards. "The motion is similar," says Dr. Zang.

Let her take aim Toys like Tiny Love's Frog Kick & Mirror provide a colorful target for tiny hoofers. Another idea: Hold a jangly toy or puppet at her feet while she's lying down and watch her tap-dance away!