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Containing Your Baby Safely

Nuriyah Gallow

Let’s be serious, babies can’t always be held. 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 also perhaps it may help with development, at least that’s what many products advertise.

In this weeks 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. Some are worse than others, others more necessary and lifesaving. Anything from a baby carrier or Bumbo to a car seat.

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:

Does the “Container” restrict movement and limit your baby from interacting with things around them? Many studies show that these types of movements, which can look like they getting frustrated or can’t reach something, are actually extremely important for the development of many aspects of muscle and brain function, such as  coordination, thinking, learning and perception skills. Babies are meant to move, explore and learn about their environment and body. When they’re in a container all the time, those things can’t happen. Age of the baby/child plays a role here too. A 6 week old baby will have less need to move and explore than a 4 month old. So if you need to get into the shower or cook dinner with your new born in a container, it is not the same as confining your 4 month old to the bumbo or rocker for prolonged periods.

DOES THE “CONTAINER” CHANGE YOUR BABIES POSTURE AND PUT THEM IN POSITIONS THEY OTHERWISE COULDN’T MAINTAIN THEMSELVES?

The problem is that these devices are so ‘good’ at getting a baby into a certain positions, like sitting or standing up.  This weakens the 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 their environment without any obstructions. These milestones happen when a child is ready, when they have developed all the necessary skills to do so – not before. From a developmental perspective, when a baby who cannot sit up on their own is forced into this position by a ‘container’, it does not benefit them in the long run. Also they  can cause undue strain on tissues that are not ready for tension or pressure.

HOW MUCH TIME IS YOUR BABY SPENDING BEING ‘CONTAINED’?

Is he/she perhaps going from one ‘container’ to another? This is an important thing to consider, because appropriate development is based on your babies 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.

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 things like walkers, rockers, baby swings, bumbo seats, etc.  It’s important to make sure that devices are not used while a child is unsupervised.h

Dr. Chantel da Silva see's many babies in practice, she is often asked about different pieces of equipment. What is best for children? What will help them develop, achieve gross motor milestones?

The answer – no piece of equipment can enhance the ability of your  baby to achieve their milestones. We have to be honest, these devices are merely “baby sitters”, 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 thing and Dr. Da Silva mentions that she is seeing this in the office more often.

If you are curious about your baby’s development in relation to the above, please contact Dr. Chantel da Silva using the contact form here.


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