Let’s talk baby containers like Bumbo seats etc.

Consider this before buying a baby container

Let’s be serious, you can’t always hold your baby.  So, whether your little one is 3 weeks or 5 months old, you have probably bought one or two devices to ‘contain’ your baby safely.  Not only do you want them to be safe, but you would also like to believe that they may help with development.  At least that’s what many products advertise.

In this week’s blog post, we will look at 4 things to consider when wanting to put your baby in any kind of containment device.  Before we start, a baby container or positioning device can be anything that you put your baby in such as a baby carrier, Bumbo seat or car seat.  Some are necessary and a life-saver, others not so much.

Baby containers

Baby in rocker

There are so many cute baby-related items on the market, but having too many ‘containers’ for babies can lead to physical and even cognitive issues as your baby develops.  Consider these 4 questions:

1. Does the “Container” restrict movement and limit your baby from interacting with things around her?

Many studies show that the types of movements where it looks like babies get frustrated or can’t reach something are actually extremely important for the development of many aspects of muscle and brain function.  This includes coordination, thinking, learning and perception skills.  Babies are meant to move, explore and learn about their environment and bodies.  When they’re in a container all the time, those things can’t happen.  The age of the baby or child plays a role here too.  A 6-week old baby will have less need to move and explore than a 4-month old.  If you need to get into the shower or cook dinner with your newborn in a container, it is not the same as confining your 4-month old to the Bumbo or rocker for prolonged periods.

2. Does the “container” change babies’ postures and put them in positions they otherwise couldn’t maintain themselves?

The problem is that these devices are so ‘good’ at getting babies into certain positions, like sitting or standing up.  This weakens their ability to appropriately develop the necessary skills and muscle strength/control before they are ready.  In order for these patterns to develop, your baby must be able to engage with his/her environment without any obstructions.  These milestones happen when a child is ready i.e. when they have developed all the necessary skills to do so – not before.  From a developmental perspective, when babies who cannot sit up on their own are forced into this position by a ‘container’, it does not benefit them in the long run.  Not only that, they can also cause undue strain on tissues that are not ready for tension or pressure.

3. How much time is your baby spending being ‘contained’?

Is he/she perhaps going from one ‘container’ to another?  This is an important point to consider, because appropriate development is based on your baby’s environment and where they are in it.  In order to promote optimal development, we have to provide babies with varying play positions.  This can include enough tummy time, as it plays an important role in developing infant strength, movement and sensory processing.  Numerous studies indicate how babies who spend excessive time in containers suffer effects after they are no longer babies.

4. Is this device actually safe?

The producers of baby products attempt to make these devices as safe as possible for children.  Despite all the regulations, these devices are not always safe and often get recalled years later.  These recalls include devices like walkers, rockers, baby swings, bumbo seats, etc.  It’s important to make sure that devices are not used while a child is unsupervised.

As a chiropractor who see many babies in my practice, parents often ask me about different pieces of equipment.  What is best for children?  What will help them develop and achieve gross motor milestones?

The short answer is:  No piece of equipment can enhance the ability of your baby to achieve his/her milestones.  We have to be honest, these devices are merely “babysitters” so that you can cook, eat, shower etc.

Next week, we will look at the structural aspects of these devices from a more spinal perspective and some recommendations.  Container baby syndrome is a real concern and I am seeing this in the practice more often.

If you are curious about your baby’s development in relation to the above, please feel free to contact us.

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