Changing Colors: The Blog of Spectrum Pediatrics

August 12, 2015

How to Limit Time in Baby Gear: A Creative Approach

By: Ashley Glasser, OTR/L
  • Research shows that too much time in baby gear (car and bouncy seats, exersaucers, jumpers, etc.) can have an impact on motor development
  • Alternative options for “containment devices” are a little easier when babies are less mobile – i.e. a blanket on the floor
  • For more mobile babies, try a baby “play pen” with soft mats and toys

babies playing in play penIt seems like every day a new piece of baby equipment is hitting the market: bouncy seats that vibrate, exersaucers that play music, jumpers for the doorway, or seats that rock. They are often a busy parent’s dream – a safe, fun place to put their child so that they can attempt to get things done around the house. While these pieces of equipment aren’t inherently bad on their own, the length of time children spend in them has been found to be detrimental to motor development. These “containment devices” often foster motor patterns (curled up, head tilted, etc.) that do nott allow the child to explore new movement as easily as when they are on the floor or being held. While fine in short durations, children have been found to spend hours of their day in various pieces of equipment.

So what is a parent to do?

A parent may know that their child has already spent a lot of time sitting in baby gear during the day, but they need to make dinner and take a shower. If they don’t want to put their child in a bouncy seat yet again, what is an alternative? For the infants that aren’t yet moving, a blanket on the floor or a small moveable flat-bottomed crib can often do the trick. However, what about the older guys? The ones who will end up across the floor and getting into trouble if you simply set them on a blanket, but they’re too big for a small crib. Enter a creative mom.

baby playing on floorA mom I worked with recently had this conundrum. Her little guy was on the move and she didn’t feel safe letting him hang out on the floor unattended while she made dinner. Her solution? She made a baby playpen, using inexpensive gates placed in a circle, a soft mat for the floor, and fun toys to keep him entertained. He was allowed to move around, including sitting, rolling, and trying to pull to stand, but in a contained space where she knew he would be safe – even if he fell. Way to go, clever momma!

For more helpful tips from an OT blogger on “baby holding devices” check out this three-part series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Source 1

Source 2: Myers, C. T., Yuen, H. K., & Walker, K. F. (2006). The use of infant seating devices in child care centers. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 60, 489–493.

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