*Originally published in March 2009
None of the child-rearing aids mentioned in this article mean that you are a bad parent if you are currently in the custom of using or practicing them. The article simply offers guidelines as to what to minimise or avoid for the benefit of your child. Just remember that the best thing for your baby is to be loved by you.
Car seats (when not driving in a car) and prams
Babies spend an awful lot of time sitting in their car seats in homes, stores or when waiting at sports and other extramural activities for their older siblings. “Spending too much time in car seats or prams can hinder your baby’s normal growth and development,” says occupational therapist and co-author of Baby Sense, Megan Faure.
“The alignment of your baby’s spine is not in a good position when he’s sitting in his car seat. He can’t move much when he is in a travel seat and he also can’t see much, which reduces his chances of exploring the word around him.”
Occupational therapist Maryna Rosentrauch adds that if a static posture is kept for too long, it obstructs your baby’s blood flow and thus reduces the amount of oxygen that needs to be transported to the different muscles and organs for optimal use. The same applies to prams: “Car seats are vital for travelling in cars, and prams are very useful for outings. However, neither should be used as a playpen or holding area. It’s better for your baby’s development if you carry him, let him play on the floor or put him in his bed if he’s asleep as soon as you get out of the car or back from an outing.”
Walking rings are one of the leading causes of head injuries in babies under the age of 1 year. They can also have an impact on your baby’s crawling and can cause ‘walking confusion’, as different body movements are required for proper walking.
“There are two very important reasons why walking rings should never be used,” says Faure. “As your baby whizzes along on the floor, he may hit a bump, which can cause rapid deceleration. This, plus the top-heavy distribution of your little one’s weight can make him fall over and hurt himself in the process. Walking rings also hamper your child’s development, as they are most often used at a stage when your baby should be practising the skills needed for crawling.” The walking ring may reduce your baby’s motivation to crawl and make him lazy to walk by himself. The supported standing position in the ring also has a negative effect on the development of your baby’s hips, legs and feet.
Faure says if you really have to use a walking ring, you should it use it in moderation and only for a maximum period of 10 minutes a day. Parents are advised to use a stationary activity ring with no wheels during this period.
Jolly jumpers are admittedly enormous fun, as babies love hopping about and seeing the world from an upright position. Jumpers can provide instantly ‘safe’ entertainment for a baby while mom is busy hanging out the washing, but they do, however, have safety risks. Faure says jolly jumpers should be used with care and also for no longer than 10 to 15 minutes a day. Jolly jumpers have the same negative effects on a baby’s development as walking rings.
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