Monday, April 15, 2013

Summer Infant SuperSeat Review and Plagiocephaly Update

This is a review for Summer Infant 3 Stage SuperSeat. This is basically a small baby seat similar to a Bumbo brand seat with a round activity tray. With the tray removed, the seat can buckle onto most standard chairs and act as a booster. It can be purchased through Amazon.com or Babies"R"Us.
 
I mentioned before in a post entitled The Latest Mommy Guilt : Plagiocephaly that my daughter was having trouble with plagiocephaly (misshapen head). It was present at birth. In that post, I mentioned that we were getting ready for an appointment with an orthodics office. At that appointment they measured her head and she was outside the normal limits, but close. They suggested some exercises and gave us one month to try "aggressive repositioning" (keeping her off the back of her head as much as possible).

We immediately began looking for options to help her enjoy tummy time more and to keep her off her back when she wasn't doing tummy time. After looking at different baby seats, this is the one we chose.

Pros

Usable from a young age
The instruction manual says that this product can be used with children as young as 4 months old. I'd say it is most likely safe for younger children if they are holding their head up well.  My little one was 3 months when we started using it and seemed just fine.
Disclaimer: This is not official. I'm not a doctor. I will not be responsible for anything that happens. Watch your child carefully when using this product, especially if they are below the recommended age. Stop using it if there is any sign that they are not ready for it.
Wide age range
The orange foam in the seat is an insert. When the child outgrows that seat the insert can be removed allowing the child to use the seat for a longer period of time. The instruction manual says the seat can be used  for children up to 4 years old. This is a big advantage over the Bumbo. Being short on space, we didn't want anything that we'd use for only a few months and then have to store for the next kid.

Toy tray
The 360 degree toy tray spins so you can give the little one access to different toys. My little one loved the toy tray. As soon as I put her in she began grabbing at the toys. Before that I'd never seen her so immediately interested in anything plastic.

Large leg openings
Reviews I read about the Bumbo say that the leg openings are rather small and not well suited to chunkier babies. We have a healthy, robust little one with beautiful roly-poly thighs and have never had a problem with this seat. She has plenty of space.

Booster seat functionality
We needed a way to keep her off her back while we were out at restaurants with friends. At that time she was much too small for a restaurant highchair. We wound up bringing this to many restaurants. It has buckled easily and fit on every chair we've tried. Even the wide, rolling Olive Garden chairs, though the straps were barely long enough. She loves being up where she can see everyone at the table instead of in a car seat sling.

Portable
It's a little bit bulky, but I've never had a problem with it. I'd compare carrying it in restaurants and other public places to carrying a loaded diaper bag. We've taken it almost everywhere with us.

Cons

Gaudy Colors
This is a personal preference issue but where is it written that everything for babies has to use every bright shade they can possibly think of?

Difficult to clean under the spinning toy
My little one spit up once on top of that spinning ball and some of it pooled up in the base of the toy. That was a major pain to clean.

Babies can't spin the tray themselves
At 5 months now my little one seems to know that the tray spins, but cannot spin it to get at the different toys herself.

Can't use tray while using the booster functionality
It would be nice if this seat could work as a highchair, or if she could have the toys she can't drop to play with while we eat.

Insert is difficult to remove and replace
This isn't really a problem if you are planning on using the seat for only one child at a time. You would have to remove the insert once when the child outgrows it and replace the insert to use the seat for the next child. It would be really annoying to use this seat for 2 children of dramatically different sizes.

Toy tray is annoying to get on
Putting on the toy tray is not terribly difficult. It is just annoying to align everything correctly. It is not half so hard to take the tray off.

Things to look out for

Babies arms can get caught when rotating the tray
Occasionally when my daughter has had her arm outstretched while we are spinning the toy tray, her arm has gotten caught by one of the two taller toys. Those toys are not rigid so it hasn't really hurt her, but it has startled both of us.

Feet fall off
There are small plastic covers that snap onto the bottom. I assume they are to protect the floor. They don't stay on well. Being small and fairly neutral in color, it is not immediately obvious when they fall off. I don't know if they are the right size to be a choking hazard. As soon as I noticed that one fell off I took them all off and got rid of them. I'm not worried about my floors. If you are, I'd suggest buying a non-slip bathroom mat or something to put under the seat.


Overall
We have really enjoyed having this product. Our little one enjoys it. It keeps her contained, safe, and nearby when we can't hold her. We've only had this product for about 2 months, so I can't say much about the long term durability, but it was 2 months of almost constant use so I think I have a pretty good idea of the functionality. Using this seat really helped with the bi-lateral symmetry of her head which is what we were most worried about. (However, her other measurements are still off enough that we will be getting a helmet.)


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