Sunday, January 22, 2012

How To Make Your Own Automatic Baby Rocker From A Baby Bjorn Bouncer And A Maxi-Cosi Car Seat

There are no decent automatic baby rockers on the market. For example, the Robopax Baby Rocker that we tried out is functional in principle, but in practice, did not deliver enough of a rocking motion to soothe our 2-month old baby Benjamin.

The Baby Bjorn Balance Bouncer was sold to us as a way for a baby to self soothe themselves. It requires tiny amounts of force to create a large bouncing motion which babies love. However, young babies tend not to be able to propel themselves and so young baby Benjamin always seems to need an extra push. Unfortunately for me, it's meant that for many sleepless nights, I've been reduced to a glorified baby rocker, gently nudging the Baby Bjorn Bouncer and rocking him at all hours of the night whilst slowly losing my sanity. (Other sleep depriving attachment parenting techniques include holding him in a sling and sleeping on my tummy).

Guide to making your own automatic baby rocker

Variable speed (VSR) drill
The most important thing is to have a drill that can be run at variable speeds. This is because you'll want the speed to be run at the slowest. In the video I use a Black and Decker Variable Speed Corded Hammer Drill. However, the advertised 'lock on' function only works at maximum speed.

Battery powered cordless drills are good because the battery packs weigh the tool down and act as a counterweight to the bouncing. However, beware of battery powered cordless drills that only draw power from the battery. It means that if your battery deteriorates the entire drill will be non-functional and you might as well buy a new drill.

A strip of velcro around the trigger is required for keeping the speed of the drill locked in at the lowest setting. Never have the drill speed on anything than on the lowest setting. Once this is attached (so that it activates the lowest speed setting) you can switch the drill on and off by: 1) knocking in the safety bit, or 2) switching the power switch on or off from the socket.

A bent piece of metal
In my video used a GRUNDTAL S-hook from Ikea, which you can get for £1.99 for a 5-pack. Alternatively you can pick up many kinds of S hooks from Amazon. Just bend the metal using pliers so that it fits inside the chuck of the drill.

A wide piece of wide, strong fabric (for the Baby Bjorn)
I have used an Ikea blue bag handle strap. Any kind of wide strap or fabric works, like a bag strap. Also worth considering something slightly elastic as well to provide a little 'give' and provide a smoother motion. A firm waistband could be used in this situation.

A bulldog clip (for the Baby Bjorn)
Used to attach the fabric from the drill bit to the Baby Bjorn Bouncer.

Maxi-Cosi car seat
Also works with any Maxi-Cosi car seat which have the small strip of belt fabric in the front, as shown in the video. It could probably be hacked to work with by attaching the fabric from the handle bar to the drill bit (in a similar vein to the "Linux Baby Rocker").

This automatic rocking technique that I devised allows the baby to be rocked whilst freeing your hands for interacting with the baby. It's definitely a hack, and should not be used as a substitute for love, affection and comforting. Any advice taken on this website is wholly the responsibility of the reader, and I cannot be held responsible whatsoever for any damages or harm that may occur from following this advice. Never leave your baby alone and unattended. Always keep your baby's safety and happiness your number one priority. Information on shaken baby syndrome should always be consulted by parents.