Container Babies

Container Babies

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!

 

Unique Gift Ideas For The Holidays!

Unique Gift Ideas For The Holidays!

It’s getting to be that time of year – Christmas shopping time. Parents are often asking for toy ideas to help promote development. There are a ton of lists out there but I’m going to focus on my favourites to help gross motor development!

Action Toys

Action toys are not toys that do things, but instead, encourage kids to be active. I also like to think of them as things that would make an awesome obstacle course (look for a future blog post about why obstacle courses are simply the BEST!).

Some ideas for little ones are:

  • play tunnels (Ikea)
  • balance beams (there are a ton of youtube videos on how to make some)
  • pikler triangle.

Another wonderful toy is the Bilibo! It can be used in so many ways and is great for those kiddos with sensory needs.

For those of us in winter, a toboggan/sled is also a great action toy.

For the older, or more adventurous, you can make your own Ninja Warrior course at home, there are a variety of kits including this Ninjaline Intro Kit.

Ride on Toys

Ride on toys are also an action toy but often are their very own separate category. I know sometimes ride ons are overlooked at this time of year given the winter weather, however, they are still such wonderful gifts to get children to be active and smaller ride on toys can be used inside or down in the basement!

Younger children may enjoy small ride on toys, and if you stick to those where they sit with their legs on either side (as opposed to a bench seat with legs in front) they can start to learn balance, steering and using legs reciprocally!

As they get older, rides ons could progress to balance bikes and plasma cars.

For even older kiddos, these are always great!

  • scooters
  • Y gliders
  • ripsticks
  • bikes

Balls

Balls are a great staple for fun and encouraging active play and coordination. Some ideas for a new twist are:

  • koosh balls (good for sensory kiddos)
  •  Waboba street or moon ball (these balls have unpredictable bounces for extra fun and in my experience lots of running)

For those little ones, kickballs, balls with a light in them and even beach balls are great additions!

Games

There are a few games out there that encourage movement.

My favourite for little ones is a game called ThinkFun Roll and Play. It’s a hit at our house and combines a variety of developmental categories including language, colours and active movement.

For the older kiddos, The Floor is Lava or ChronoBomb are great games to work on motor planning, balance – and they are FUN!

Experiences

As a parent, another favourite gift for my child to receive is the gift of experiences. Sometimes that means someplace fun to take the family, like the zoo or movies. However, the physio in me would recommend something active such as swimming, gymnastics or karate lessons.

If lessons are a bit much, passes to your local community centre for public skating or swimming is a great alternative. It’s often a great way for our children to learn new skills and continue to work on their development.

 

Hopefully this will give you some new ideas for useful Christmas gift ideas! Happy Holidays!