A cushion designed for use during tummy time that can be attached to a baby rocker or swing to help babies with colic and reflux. However, it’s only suitable for very young babies, is not a safe space for baby to nap in and costs a pretty penny.
Ease of use
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Ease of cleaning
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Worth the money
3.0 out of 5 rating
Pros: Very soft and supportive, secure way to do tummy time on an incline
Cons: Expensive, requires batteries, fiddly to operate, limited use
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The babocush was, like so many other baby products you never knew you needed, invented by a mum-on-a-mission. Kerry Nevins’s second son, Harry, suffered badly from colic and reflux and didn’t settle anywhere except over Kerry’s shoulder – he cried in his rocker, in his cot and in his pram.
She wanted something that held him in the same position that she did but couldn’t find anything. Staring at his rocker, she realised that if it could be adapted to hold him on his tummy, Harry would be happy there – et voila, the idea for the babocush was born. The cushion – which attaches to a rocker or baby swing and can vibrate and play heartbeat sounds – now sells world-wide.
The babocush is intended to provide relief from colic and reflux, to help settle fractious babies and to provide tummy time in order to prevent flat-head syndrome and other associated problems. This product is unique – there is nothing else like it on the market. This could mean that it’s an absolute genius invention no one has thought of until now, or that many people will find using a sling or a shoulder a better option.
In terms of its vibration function, the babocush is vaguely comparable to a rocker or swing such as the Joie Sansa 2 in 1 but unlike that product, which is a multi-functional seat, the babocush is a one-trick pony – and to get the optimum functionality from it, you need to own a decent rocker, such as the Nuna Leaf (£105.99 on Amazon).
Other approved rockers include Fisher-Price Colourful Carnival Take Along Swing & Seat, Fisher-Price Auto Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, Graco Duet Sway LX Swing with Portable Bouncer and Graco Duet Oasis Swing with Soothe Surround Technology.
Unlike a chair swing or rocker, the babocush is not safe for your baby to nap in and the website and instructions clearly state this. This is because the babocush holds baby tummy down but sleeping on their fronts can pose a suffocation risk to babies and increase the risk of SIDS. Newborns need to sleep on their backs – not their fronts.
Gabrielle tested the babocush with her baby daughter, Amaya, who was born five weeks prematurely and suffers from colic and trapped wind.
With its multiple Velcro straps designed to hold a baby on her tummy, the Babocush is certainly distinctive. My six-year-old thought it looked like a turtle shell and my three-year-old tried to wear it as a back pack. But up close, the pleasingly neutral cover (white and grey) feels lovely and soft, and the gently curved cushion is firm with just enough yield.
So, what exactly does the babocush do?
The babocush is billed as a colic, trapped wind and reflux relief cushion, a swaddling cushion and also a way for baby to have tummy time comfortably and securely. It’s also a good way to prevent flat-head syndrome, which can be the result of babies lying in the same position for long periods of time.
The babocush is categorically not a sleep aid – rather it’s a safe place to put your baby down for a few moments in the hopes that he or she will not scream the place down while you enjoy the use of both arms and shoulders.
It’s designed to hold babies from birth, including preemies, to about six months, with an upper weight limit of 9.5 kilograms (21 lbs). However, it’s worth noting that you can only use the babocush on a rocker or swing until your baby is 6.4 kilos (14 lbs), which is approximately three months old.
How does it work and how easy is it to use?
In principle, it’s a jazzed-up cushion that vibrates and emits a sound that replicates your heartbeat. It’s designed to hold baby on his or her front either on the floor or inclined on a rocker. The latter is particularly useful if your baby, like mine, suffers from trapped wind and reflux and tends to bring feeds back up if laid down soon after eating. It’s intuitive to use although the instructions over-complicate the use of the harness somewhat.
We happen to have been lent a rocker, so wasted no time in mounting the babocush on the bouncer so Amaya could enjoy the benefits of gravity on her developing digestive tract and we had the best chance of getting her to settle. Securing the babocush to the rocker was a two-handed job, but once attached, it was simple to strap Amaya into the harness. It was a faff turning the vibration and heartbeat functions on through the cushion cover so the first few times we switched them on before we placed the babocush on the rocker.
We also trialled the cushion on the floor, although we had to prepare the area first by rolling out a yoga mat since the company recommends you do not place the babocush directly onto a smooth-surfaced floor in case the cushion slides.
What did you think of the instructions?
We were not impressed at all. For a start, they are printed on a cheap-looking booklet that is surprisingly at odds with the expensive, luxe-looking gadget they accompany. Frustratingly, the first mention of the fact that batteries are required (two 1.5v ‘c’ batteries, to be precise) is on page 6. These are not supplied so you may have to quell your excitement at finally being able to enjoy eating your dinner with two hands to instead run out and buy batteries.
There is one unclear mention of the fact that batteries are all but essential to have the best chance of settling your baby on the babocush. This is followed by seven steps to using a harness (it’s not that complicated) but none on how to attach the product to a rocker or how to operate the vibrate and sound functions. Although this can be easily worked out, it would be good to have it set out, not least because once the pouch for the vibrating soother is installed and the cushion cover zipped up, you cannot see the buttons.
How comfortable is the babocush for your baby to use? How secure did they feel when strapped in?
The cushion is soft but firm and feels like a comfortable place for Amaya to rest – but she didn’t take to it at first. In fact, the first few attempts were over in a matter of seconds since Amaya protested loudly at being strapped into the device. However, on the third or fourth go, she was much calmer and was happy to stay in the babocush for a few minutes, so long as someone was in her eye-line, talking to and reassuring her. She certainly seemed securely strapped in, even when the cushion was on top of the rocker and inclined.
One of the seat’s chief functions is colic and reflux relief – how effective was it?
In our experience, I’m not sure it had much effect as Amaya had to be calm before going onto the cushion. If she became upset while strapped in, she would cry more than usual when she realised she was fixed to the device. And the first time she used it, she vomited over it. But of course every baby is different, and I would say that if Amaya got used to being on the babocush and could stay there for five or ten minutes after a feed in an inclined position, it would help her food go – and stay – down.
What did you make of the vibrations and ‘heartbeat’ features?
The vibration element is in fact an essential feature of the babocush but that isn’t apparent until you read the instructions. Without the vibration on, babies tend not to settle, according to the instructions, and that was certainly the case when we tried it. There are three different speeds and Amaya definitely preferred the stronger vibration settings whereas the heartbeat sound didn’t seem to have much impact on her tolerance for the cushion.
My issue with the features is that they are not properly explained in the instructions (they don’t mention the different levels – only the website says there are three settings for the vibration) – and, crucially, the buttons to control the settings are covered by the fleece cover. So if you want to adjust them while your baby is on the cushion, you have to fumble and press through the material. It’s very easy to inadvertently turn the functions off and disturb your baby. This is a fundamental flaw in a vital function of the product and certainly detracts from the babocush’s appeal.
How useful would this be for a baby who does not suffer from colic/reflux?
I’d say not particularly, because you only need a soft blanket or muslin on the floor to do tummy time. Although if your baby rolls straight out of tummy time and/or you have hard floors, it may be worth investing in to help him or her develop strong head control and back and neck muscles.
The babocush cannot be used as a sleep aid – is this made clear in the instructions?
Absolutely not! The instruction booklet (on the second page, third ‘Warning!’ down) and the box could make this clearer as unsuspecting carers may not realise, since the babocush is designed to soothe a baby and a soothed baby can easily become a sleeping baby. If you’re leaving your babysitter or family member in charge of your little one, it’s always worth reminding them that baby cannot be left unsupervised and must not sleep on the babocush.
What is the sizing like – what age is it suitable for?
The babocush is 635mm long by 380mm wide; I’d say it’s generously sized. Amaya is tiny for her age (in the photos she’s three months old but the size of an average newborn) and she’s got plenty of growing room. As mentioned previously, the babocush is suitable from birth for even the smallest of babies up to around six months (21lbs off and 14lbs on a rocker).
How easy is it to put on and take off a rocker?
Fairly easy – with two hands. The problem is that until you’ve got it up and running, you’ll no doubt be holding your baby so will only have the use of one hand and as it’s fairly hefty, you’ll need two hands to pick it up and both hands to fasten and tighten the straps. Unclipping it is a one-handed job but again you’ll likely need both hands free to lift the cushion off the rocker and place it somewhere safe (in our case back in the box and safe from Amaya’s older brothers, who were determined to use it to dress up as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).
Does the babocush feel durable?
There are only three buttons and two functions (vibrate and sound) so there’s not much to go wrong, although if the batteries run out, you won’t be able to use either function. The cushion, covers, harness and straps are made from good-quality materials that feel like they’d last for a while – certainly longer than the six months most babies would use the babocush for. So if you’ve space to store it, you could feasibly keep it for your next baby.
Is it easy to clean?
Yes and it needs to be as the area where baby’s head rests is covered in the same soft fleece fabric as the rest of the cushion. Ours was sodden by baby dribble and vomit in the first few minutes of use. Then we read the ‘advice’ section which suggests placing a muslin under baby’s head. So we did that next time after unzipping and machine-washing the mattress cover. The foam cushion can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.
How stylish is the babocush?
Very, if your style is understated, neutral and ergonomic. It’s a crowd-pleasing white and grey which perfectly matches the neutral tones of our rocker and feels very luxe: I find myself absentmindedly stroking it when it’s next to me on the sofa!
What’s in the box?
The babocush cushion, which includes mattress, protective cover and fleece cover as well as harness and straps – but no batteries, which is disappointing.
Who would the product be most useful for?
Mums of small or premature newborns who suffer from reflux, trapped wind and/or colic, particularly those with older children – because although it’s perfectly possibly to hold a newborn over your shoulder why you help your toddler on the toilet, it’s easier not to. And I imagine it would be a welcome addition to the home of a family with newborn twins or multiples as it would allow one baby to be held fairly upright and in relative comfort while the other/s is/are being held/changed/fed. The babocush is also useful for older babies who roll out of tummy time as it holds them in position, encouraging them to lift their heads and work on their muscle control.
Are there any design elements you find particularly successful/useful?
Yes. The cushion is sturdy yet soft and is an excellent alternative to our hard wooden floor for tummy time. The harness is cleverly designed to fit babies from the teeniest newborn to the stockiest six-month-old. It feels very secure and is a good way to hold babies who would otherwise roll on their fronts for that all-important tummy time.
Is it value for money?
It isn’t cheap, and you’ll need to add in the cost of batteries. There are no extras but if you want to use it on a rocker, you’ll need a sturdy model so if you don’t already own one, you’ll need to factor that into the cost.
The value for money really depends on whether your baby enjoys using it and how often he or she will use it before outgrowing it. There are plenty of second-hand babocush cushions for sale on ebay and gumtree, many of which have only ever been used a few times. But if you’re one of the parents whose reviews feature on the brand’s website and deem the product a “lifesaver” and “amazing”, then you’d say it was worth every penny. It’s a real Marmite product – you’ll either love it or begrudge the money you spent and space it takes up.
Personally, although I’ve enjoyed trying it out with Amaya, I wouldn’t buy it. Instead, I’d save money by buying a soft sling I could wear my baby in around the house such as the Amawrap and remind myself that the newborn stage is a relatively short phase. It’s hard to believe when your little one is a needy newborn, but in a few short years, when your baby is at school, you’ll miss having them sleeping in your arms. Of course, if your baby has reflux and the babocush helps, you may feel it’s worth its weight in gold.
If you have cash to splash and a fancy rocker to match, plus a newborn with a bad case of colic, reflux, wind or all three, the babocush just may save your sanity. And if you’re a mum of fussy multiples with little to no help, the babocush is probably the next best thing to human comfort when you’re busy with another child. But if you’re lucky enough to be blessed with a newborn who loves nothing more than snuggling into you and simply dislikes being put down, this product is not essential.
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