Changing Colors: The Blog of Spectrum Pediatrics

August 15, 2016

Baby Container Misconceptions

By: Colleen Donley, PT, DPT
  • Where can you safely put your baby when you need a moment to empty the dishwasher or fold laundry?
  • Exersaucers, jumperoo’s, and walkers can teach babies how to stand and take steps incorrectly.
  • Often times, little ones are too little for baby containers, which makes positioning even worse.

In exersaucers, jumperoos, and walkers, a little baby learns from a very early age to lean their trunk forward against the front of the bucket seat or to sit in the bucket seat. Both of those positions are not ideal because the child now has their feet either behind or in front of the hips, not under their hips for appropriate weight bearing. The child isn’t learning how to control their posture and develop balance appropriately. In addition to learning poor postural control, babies learns to put weight through their toes rather than flat feet since they are in front of or behind their body. Typically, babies sit with their hips opened, which can cause twisting at the top of of the hip or put force on the growing bones to encourage a bowing appearance.

Walkers pose a greater concern than exersacuers and jumperoos because your child is learning to stand inappropriately and move their feet incorrectly. In order to make the walker go forward and fast, baby learns to simply lean forward and then move their feet along with the movement. They also will lean from side to side to shift their weight and take a “step” so they appear to shuffle when out of the walker. When a little one has grown accustomed to sitting in the bucket seat, they tend to have extra flexion in their hips and knees as the step forward. A final note on walkers, walkers pose a significant safety concern to our little ones. The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for a ban to the manufacture of all walkers with wheels and the US Consumer Product and Safety Commission has issued a warning discouraging parents from using these walkers due to such serious safety concerns. Infants have been found to be at an increased risk for fracture when using a walker, especially a skull fracture. Other potential injuries include burns, falls, poisoning, and drowning.

There are many great alternatives to these containers so babies can stay safe, but in a good position for motor development, such as baby play yards in your living room or a pack n play. Putting your little one in these containers when you’re in a bind or really just need a moment does not make you a bad parent. The American Physical Therapy Association’s Section on Pediatrics recommends limiting use of commercial baby containers to 10-20 minutes per day. This is not a lot of time so that is why finding an alternative is so necessary. At the end of the day, being down on the floor and learning how to move is the best position for baby!

For more information, visit Colleen Donley’s blog here!

Click here to learn more about creative ways to have your baby on the floor!

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