The Jolly Jumper

This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.


Patent number 568775 was issued in 1959 for a “baby supporter and exerciser” better known as the Jolly Jumper. The device was the brainchild of Susan Olivia Poole who drew upon her Ojibway roots for the design. As she was growing up, she often saw babies carried on cradle boards. When a mother was working outdoors, she could hang the board from a nearby tree branch and give it an occasional tug to begin a gentle, comforting motion. In 1910, as soon as the first of her own seven children was born, Poole resurrected the idea and moved it indoors. Instead of a tree branch, she fixed a steel spring to a door frame and then attached an axe handle to act as a spreader bar. A harness made from a diaper was then suspended from the bar and hung low enough for the baby’s feet to touch the floor. Once the feet made contact, the bouncing began. It worked so well for her own family that she started a company to manufacture and market the exerciser. The Jolly Jumper is still in production today.

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Janis Nostbakken