Fisher-Price’s new iPad bouncy seat fail

The Pediatric Insider

© 2013 Roy Benaroch, MD

The Hatfields versus the McCoys. Potter versus Malfoy. That guy with the hat versus that guy who walked around naked (don’t ask me, I’ve never watched Survivor.) These are among the best-known feuds of our time.

Now it’s my turn for a feud. It’s me versus Fisher-Price. Don’t pretend you aren’t reading this, Fisher. Or Price. Or both of you. If you are two people, which I’m not so sure about.

Anyway: last year I wrote about the Fisher-Price Rock-n-Play Sleeper, which despite being called a “sleeper”, is not a suitable place for babies to sleep. It fails to meet many of the AAP’s guidelines on safe sleep for babies. You can Rock in it, or Play in it, but I wouldn’t let any baby sleep in it. Judging by the comments on that article, many people agreed with me. Other people think I’m an idiot with some kind of odd Fisher-Price preoccupation. Those people will not be pleased with the rest of this post.

Because Fisher-Price, you’ve done it again.

Introducing the Fisher-Price Newborn to Toddler Apptivity Device for iPad Device. It’s a bouncy seat, suitable for babies from about 1-4 months, with a handy swing-arm that holds an iPad right in their cute little baby faces. With a protective screen so they don’t goober it up, this is guaranteed to make 100% certain that your baby stares at a glowing  screen. Don’t let the name—“Newborn to Toddler”—fool you. This is a little infant bouncer, and no toddler is going to use this, and they’re not trying to sell it to toddlers. No, this is for basically our youngest babies. The ones who are supposed to be watching your face and smiling back at you. Instead, let’s plop ‘em in front of a screen. I’m sure that will work out well.

What, you say your infant prefers to lie down? Fisher-Price has got you covered. Here’s their Apptivity Gym for iPhone and iPod Touch Devices. That would also be appropriate if your baby doesn’t yet own an iPad. He could just use his phone.

Both of these “Apptivity” things come with, you guessed it, apps. They’re designed by “child care experts” to turn your baby into a screen-obsessed zombie. Well, admittedly, the Fisher-Price site doesn’t exactly say that, but sometimes you have to read between the lines.

Now, I’m not saying that Fisher-Price wants to kill your babies, or rob them of the precious and irreplaceable joy of normal childhood development. No sir. I didn’t say that at all. So no Cease-and-Desist Letter is necessary. What I am saying is that our babies need better than this. They don’t need a screen mounted in front of their faces, blocking their view of the world they’re supposed to enjoy, master, and inherit. They need love, and touch, and human interaction, and someone to smile back at them when they blow a raspberry. They need parents, not iPads, and not this kind of crap from Fisher-Price.

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5 Comments on “Fisher-Price’s new iPad bouncy seat fail”

  1. OMDG Says:

    I think what people objected to re the rock n play was the complete and utter tone deafness on your part (and frankly basically all pediatricians) regarding difficulties with infant sleep. Unfortunately the 5 S’s only get you so far, and not everybody has someone else they can dump the baby onto so that they can take a nap.

    I will venture to guess that either a) your children slept better than the parents who commented and you simply don’t know what they are going through, b) you just don’t remember what it was like not sleeping for 3 months straight, c) your wife or another relative did all the work related to your kids and their sleep, or d) you are a robot who simply recites AAP guidelines when you talk to parents about this and you think you are effective because parents eventually stop asking you. I stopped talking to my pediatrician about baby sleep too, since I got exactly zero in the way of useful suggestions.


  2. Dr. Roy Says:

    OMDG, the post you’re referring to ( wasn’t a post about helping a baby learn to sleep through the night. That post was about a specific product that is unsafe when used as obviously intended. If you wish to comment on that post, be my guest.

    If you wish to learn about what I suggest for families struggling to help their babies sleep well, you can use the search box on the right of the screen. There is no need for you to venture to guess. Your experience with your own pediatrician may not have accurately reflected what all other pediatricians say.


  3. OMDG Says:

    Like I said. Completely tone deaf. I read through all of the comments and what I saw was desperate parents trying to figure out how they could get a tiny bit of sleep, and you condemning the one solution they had found (probably after many sleepless nights) as unsafe. You saw only the use of a product you don’t approve of because it doesn’t allow the child to lie flat on its back (and yes it irritates me too when people use anecdote as evidence). What they heard is you calling them bad parents. Do you have ANY empathy?


  4. emby Says:

    WIth respect, not seeing it, OMDG. All of his comments are about the sleeper, not anyone’s parenting. Shall he tell people ‘whatever you decide is safe’? Does that apply to the whiskey-in-the-baby-bottle teething remedy, too?

    The problem is that Fisher-Price is marketing it as a sleeper without doing any kind of testing to ensure that it’s safe. It’s one thing if you decide, due to your specific situation, that the risk of going against the back to sleep advice is worth the benefit of ensuring your infant and family gets rest. (And I’ve certainly known pediatricians who will say ‘for an otherwise low-risk infant, sleeping on the side or tummy will be okay in a safe environment.’) It’s another thing if a parent gets taken in by clever marketing into unwittingly thinking that something called a ‘sleeper’ has been tested for safety when sleeping. I certainly considered purchasing one of those things when my son decided that afternoon naps were the enemy and must be shrieked at, and I’m glad for a perspective that pointed out the risks. (Solution to shrieking: he grew out of it. Babies. Go figure.)


  5. Desiree Says:

    I love this article (just read a few years late) but I completely agree with everything in it… this device that thankfully I never saw should get thrown into the garbage next to the apparently now popular IPAD holding potty seat !?!?! Love your posts and thank you for the always objective and scientific information.


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