Posts Tagged ‘carriers’

Healthy Baby Hip and Muscle Development

While jumparoos, walkers, and exersaucers can come in rather handy at times and baby carriers/wraps are ideal for deepening the parent-infant bond, be cautious of overuse and improper hip placement. It’s highly recommended to only use jumparoos, walkers, exersaucers and the like for 20 TOTAL minutes or less per day. Also when using baby carriers and wraps, as well as car seats, placements of baby’s legs/hips is vital.

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Here’s why (This is taken from a parenting forum where a pediatric physical therapist chimed in to the discussion):

“Saucers, jumpers, walkers, etc. do nothing to enhance development, and can actually delay the achievement of milestones by several weeks. Essentially, to give a quick summary, standing in a saucer is not the same as actively standing while say holding onto a couch. The muscles work in a different pattern that is less desirable. This has been backed up by EMG studies, where they read the electrical output of different muscles and look at the patterns in which they are activated. Babies in saucers tend to be pitched forward onto their toes, which isn’t a normal posture and can theoretically lead to tip toe walking down the road (an abnormal gait pattern). Their abdominal muscles aren’t activeley engaged like they would be while actively standing. Their gluteal (butt) muscles aren’t engaged the same way they would be while standing on their own. This allows them to stand with a sway-backed posture that isn’t particularly healthy.

There have been excellent twin studies showing that even in typically-developing kids, the twin that used a walker walked on average 6 weeks later than the non walker using twin. Most therapists would say this can be applied to saucer use as well. Studies have shown saucers to delay sitting, crawling and walking milestones. Many parents will say their child used a saucer and walked early, but that isn’t really a fair assessment, as their child may have walked even earlier if they *didn’t* use one.

In a typically developing kid, it is less of a concern than a child at risk of delays (preemies, low muscle tone, etc.) However, not all parents know if their child is delayed or at risk of delays either.

The recommendation of most pediatric PTs I’ve known is to limit their use entirely if you can. If you insist on using one, don’t use it for more than 20 mins a day, and be aware of how fast that time adds up (10 mins while you shower, 10 mins during a phone call, 30 mins while you make dinner, 10 mins while you clean up, 5 mins while you go to the bathroom…). It adds up more quickly than people realize. Also if the child shows any signs of fatigue (slouching over, slumping, leaning to one side) they should be removed before 20 mins total, and hopefully beforehand.

I know mamas need to shower and do things around the house…I can sympathize, believe me. Just keep in mind saucers are all marketing, and there is no real benefit to be had from your child using them. The manufacturers make parents feel like they really enhance development, when the opposite is true. The best “tool” for helping a child develop motor skills is floor time…supervised tummy time, just playing on the floor w/ your baby. If you need to contain them for safety, a playpen still allows them to practice their motor skills without getting into trouble if you are in the shower and can’t supervise, for example.”

The International Hip Dysplasia Institute says:

“The most unhealthy position for the hips during infancy is when the legs are held in extension with the hips and knees straight and the legs brought together, which is the opposite of the fetal position. The risk to the hips is greater when this unhealthy position is maintained for a long time. Healthy hip positioning avoids positions that may cause or contribute to development of hip dysplasia or dislocation. The healthiest position for the hips is for the hips to fall or spread (naturally) apart to the side, with the thighs supported and the hips and knees bent. This position has been called the jockey position, straddle position, frog position, spread-squat position or human position. Free movement of the hips without forcing them together promotes natural hip development.

Some types of baby carriers and other equipment may interfere with healthy hip positioning. Such devices include but are not limited to baby carriers, slings, wraps, pouches, car seats, exercisers, rockers, jumpers, swings, bouncers and walkers, and molded seating items. These devices could inadvertently place hips in an unhealthy position, especially when used for extended periods of time. Any device that restrains a baby’s legs in an unhealthy position should be considered a potential risk for abnormal hip development. It is also important to assess the size of the baby and match the device and carrier to the size of the child so that the hips can be in a healthy position during transport. Parents are advised to research the general safety and risks of any device they wish to use. When in doubt, we recommend involving your primary health-care provider in any further decision-making that may be medically relevant.”

They also share some very helpful graphics, including a common incorrect way to wear baby:

Incorrect

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This is often called the “crotch dangle” and it is not good for baby’s hips as you see here:

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Correct

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Baby is supported all the way to the knee.

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They also show helpful pictures on car seats and ring slings.

Happy safe bouncing, saucering and wearing!