As parents, we rely on convenient places to keep babies safe and contained, but common pieces of baby equipment could be leading to flat heads and muscle strains.
Health professionals continue to be concerned about container baby syndrome, which is simply defined as the overuse of restrictive baby equipment.
“In a swing, in a bouncy seat, in any of those items that are going to cuddle and hold that baby in once place,” Lori Grisez said. She’s a board-certified pediatrics clinical specialist and developmental therapist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio.
“The baby can’t do their natural movements of wiggling and kicking their arms and legs, trying to lift up their head.”
Other restrictive pieces of baby equipment include floor seats, car seats, high chairs, jumpers, walkers and infant swings, said Grisez.
Grisez said extended time throughout the day in a “container” may lead to plagiocephaly — flat spots on the head — or torticollis — tightness in the neck from keeping the head turned or tilted.
In 2013, a study out of Calgary of 440 healthy Canadian babies found 46.6 per cent had plagiocephaly.
Researchers say container baby syndrome has been on the rise since the 1990s when doctors began recommending babies be put to sleep lying on their backs not their tummies to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Since then, there’s been a push for parents to encourage tummy time during the daytime.
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“We are still not seeing that dramatic increase of that tummy time and still children are spending too much time in containers and on their backs (during the day),” Grisez said.
Grisez said her clinic treats children as young as a few months old with container baby syndrome.
“If a baby isn’t getting enough time to strengthen their muscles and learn to roll over and sit up, it can impact their ongoing developments,” Grisez said. “We want babies to be crawling and getting into things, so they can explore their environment.”
While container time can’t be avoided, parents can encourage development throughout the day. Grisez said helping babies with tummy time can strengthen and improve their development.
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