As chiropractors we get asked a lot of questions about which baby accessories are safe to use and which may cause issues when it comes to proper development. Unfortunately, a lot of these accessories or props can compromise the neck and spine of an infant. One of the safest and best things is for your baby to enjoy spending time on the ground to keep their spine neutral. Let’s dive into why a few of these accessories that can be appealing but in the end, there is more risk than benefits.
- Boppy pillows used to prop baby up. Though this can seem like a good idea artificial stabilization causes your infants spine to be in a C shape which forces the spine into forward flexion. Over time this can cause a poor motor pattern to develop and movement is restricted. It also causes the head to trip forward and the chin to come down to the chest, in this position they can only look down and not up to see what it around them. When a baby lays on the ground their spine is long and completely neutral which is ideal posture for an infant. They can also freely move their heads side to side and interact with the environment around them.
- Bumbo seat to sit infant upright. Once an infant can support themselves to sit up on their own that this can be used safely. Prior to that when their muscles surround their spine have not been develops two things happen. They either slouch way down into the seat putting a lot of pressure on their low back and pelvis or they are forced to lean forward to maintain balance which increases the rounding of their spine and puts pressure on their internal organs. To develop the muscles of the spine that are needed to sit in a seat such as this the best things is to practice tummy time on the floor. In order to push up and see their environment they must develop these spinal support muscles as well as the muscles of the neck.
- Exersaucer chair to aid infant in standing. Again, with this type of prop once an infant is standing on their own there is no longer a danger for them to use this and interact with the toys that may be available. When a child that is too young to stand on their own is placed in this type of seat, they are in a vertical position being supported by a sling, but all their weight is being put into their hips which are not developed enough to support them. Overtime it causes unhealthy compensation in their low back and on their ankles and knees. The good news is that they do not need to practice this position until they want to do so on their own and that happens with muscular development. Using objects to pull up and stand and eventually as an aid to walking. The correct development of the joints in the lower extremity will happen quite naturally and their will learn to have coordinated motor function.
I hope this has answered some of your questions on which type of props are better to avoid with your baby. If you have other questions, please feel free to reach out. For more information about this topic and articles about breech births, chiropractic for babies, and nursing postures check out Pathways to family wellness magazine, Issue 61 Spring 2019 next time you are in the office. Or check them out online at http://pathwaystofamilywellness.org/item/browse-by-topic.html.