Some of you may have heard the term Container Baby in the media, or amongst new mom groups, and wondered what exactly that means. I mentioned the term in our previous blog post about plagiocephaly (check it out here). In fact, it is happening so much more frequently that it now even has a label – Container Baby Syndrome.
What Is A Container Baby?
A container baby is a child who spends a substantial amount of time in a device/container throughout the day. Containers include strollers, car seats, Bumbos, swings, vibrating chairs, jumpers and exersaucers.
Now, you might be thinking – my kiddo doesn’t spend a lot of time in a container! However, you might be surprised by how little time it can take. A recent study showed that the cumulative effects of 30 minutes per day was enough to change motor patterns and, therefore, reinforce inappropriate motor patterns.
Of course, you can’t avoid all containers – car seats and strollers being the big ones. But you need to add the time children spend in those to the time they spend being contained in other devices.
Is This Really A Syndrome?!?
Why have Container Babies become such a big deal that some are calling it a syndrome? It’s because we are seeing so many more children who are reflecting the outcomes of being contained. Fundamentally, our children are different from children who grew up a generation ago.
Why Does It Happen?
The biggest reason, in my opinion, is that baby companies are great at marketing ‘stuff’. It’s unusual to see a baby registry that doesn’t have at least a few of these items on it, and they appear on most ‘must-have’ lists. Moms I have spoken to say it’s the only way that they get things done, that they know their baby is ‘safe’, or that their child seems happy and that they like being in it, or that their child hates being on the floor.
But, at the end of the day, when there are all of these options of where to put a baby, this means that babies are spending less time on the floor – which is vitally important.
What Are The Results?
One of the biggest things that we are seeing is children who have reflexes (primitive infant reflexes) that aren’t integrating when they should be, and it is affecting how they develop.
By placing children in positions that they developmentally aren’t ready for, they are not only being limited from being exposed to the positions that they are developmentally ready for, but they also aren’t able to learn the building blocks and fundamentals for the next steps.
The end result is those ‘milestones’ aren’t being met when they should be.
How Do We Correct It?
The biggest and most important step is, as with most things, prevention!
This one in particular is quite easy to prevent – just throw out all the non-essential equipment!
However, if this diagnosis has already happened, or if you suspect it, the first line of treatment is home repositioning. A physiotherapist can suggest things to change at home as well as showing you ways to foster more specific skills if your child is falling behind developmentally.
As always, should you have any questions, or if you feel that your child has Container Baby Syndrome, please reach out to me or your local paediatric physiotherapist!