Stay Away from Containers (Car Seats, Bumbos, Swings and Nursing Cushions)
This article provides information regarding containers and the possibilities of Container Baby Syndrome (CBS). Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.
Have you noticed in recent years more babies are wearing helmets?
It’s no secret parents are busy. Having children can be one of the most rewarding, but challenging experiences of our lives. When the dishes pile up, laundry is stacked high and you are constantly tripping over kids toys, it’s in our nature to want to keep a well organized and functioning home.
Babies are especially time consuming. Their needs have to be met constantly. And, because babies aren’t as mobile as toddlers, busy parents often find the simple solution to getting more work done is to put them in a swing, stroller, bumbo, nursing cushion or jumper to keep the baby happy.
While this is a good solution for parents, is it creating more long-term problems on our child’s development?
Now, obviously we can’t avoid these containers completely like the car seat, but we can limit our child’s time spent in these types of containers.
In recent years, more children are exhibiting signs of developmental delays in movement and behavior. Many babies born healthy and mobile, but eventually placed in confined or contained spaces for long periods of time, may eventually develop what is called Container Baby Syndrome (CBS).
CBS is the direct result of an infant spending too much time in what is commonly referred to as “containers.” Containers can range anywhere from a bumbo seat or nursing cushion to a car seat or stroller.
Today, kids are exposed to at least four or five different types of containers on a daily basis. Some of these containers are for the safety of the baby, such as car seats, but if they are confined for hours at a time, it can prevent the baby from moving their bodies, which assists them in early development.
The bumbo seat often seems like a great option for busy parents, but when the infant is placed in a propped up sitting position, they have the entire weight of their head on the spine. The muscles and joints may not be developmentally ready to support the weight of the body against gravity. As a result, the child may develop physical complications like motor delays and skeletal restructure.
Types of containers may include the following:
- Car Seats
- Bumbo Seats
- Bounce Seats
- Nursing Cushions
- Tray Walkers
With kids spending more time in various containers and fewer opportunities for tummy time, they become less mobile while resting on the back of their heads. Ever wonder why we are seeing more kids with helmets these days?
Why are more kids getting flat head?
Due to medical concerns about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), guidelines have changed from having babies sleep on their stomachs to now sleeping on their backs. While more kids are being saved from SIDS, they are also spending 10 or more hours sleeping on their backs, which makes it even more important to get them on their tummies while they are awake.
If kids are spending 10 or more hours on their backs asleep and then even more time in a container while they are awake, you may begin to notice developmental delays in the child’s crawling, rolling, sitting, running and speech and language.
Kids who spend long periods of time in different types of containers may experience some of the following issues:
- Flat head (the back or the side of the head)
- Facial asymmetry (the sides of the baby’s face may appear unequal as a result of a skull deformity)
- Torticollis (the baby has trouble turning the head to one side)
- Decreased movement, strength and coordination
- Delays in speech, sight, hearing and critical thinking
- Lack of attention and focus
- Sensory deprivation
- Cognitive delays
- Behavior problems
- Lack of reflex integration
- Delays in visual-motor skills and hand-eye coordination
- Weight gain or obesity
Why less containers and more tummy time?
Babies who are placed in containers for most of the day are not on their tummies. It’s not only what they are doing (sitting immobilized in a container), but what they are not doing (tummy time). We want kids to move and stay mobile as much as possible.
However, placing babies on their tummies is sometimes easier said than done. There are infants out there that absolutely hate tummy time and cry constantly. If your child hates tummy time, don’t give up. There are so many benefits that come from tummy time that can impact their future learning development (like reading and writing).
Pediatricians recommend anywhere from 20 minutes of tummy time to one hour or more of tummy time a day. Now, the common misconception is that the infant has to be on their tummy consecutively for this amount of time, but this is not the case. Parents can break up the time so the infant spends a totality of say 30 minutes, for example. Your child’s tummy time may be five minutes here and five minutes there until you have reached your goal of 30 minutes (or whatever goal you have set for your baby).
Many times when a baby cries on tummy time, our first instinct is to pick them up and maybe even place them in a swing or jumper. While tummy time requires a lot of work for both the parent and the baby, it’s worth the effort. The baby must work against gravity to develop their muscle strength in the neck and spine.
Rolling, crawling and eventually walking begins with tummy time. These important skills are foundational for behavioral, emotional and cognitive growth. What may seem inconsequential, tummy time can actually prep your child for sitting in their desk at school, copying notes from the chalkboard, writing words across the page and tracking words for reading.
Tummy time is essential for the following:
- Posture of the head, neck and spine as well as facial symmetry
- Upper body and lower body strength and joint stability
- Speech and language
- Eating abilities (especially for those kids who struggle with oral sensory)
- Vision and visual-motor skills
- Fine motor skills (grasping and releasing as well as hand strength for writing skills and the ability to use scissors)
- Gross motor skills (crawling, walking, jumping, catching a ball, running and climbing on the playground)
Besides tummy time, how can I prevent CBS?
Tummy time is one of the best ways to prevent your child from developing CBS. However, there are a few other preventive measures you can take. Here are a few guidelines to follow:
When a baby is awake have them on their tummy as much as possible.
Limit Time in Containers
Only use containers such as car seats for transporting the baby from one place to another. In addition, limit the time the baby is in a swing or bouncer (a swing can be soothing, but not for extended time).
If a baby falls asleep in their car seat, transport them to a bed when you get home. Holding, rocking and walking the baby throughout the day is helpful for their development and it gives them time with you.
Maximize Tummy Time Efforts
If a baby cries when on tummy time, a good method is to be down on the floor with them and talk to them. Infants may stay on their tummies longer if someone is down with them.
If tummy time is uncomfortable for an infant, start with short amounts of tummy time. If a baby can roll to their back, let them stay in this position for a minute or two and then transfer them back to their tummy.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs
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