Today’s post is not meant to be finger pointing or shaming parents for how they transport their children, but more of an eye opener to social norms that may not be the best for the structural development of our children.
Just about every parent uses the “bucket” style car seat. While this is a great safety tool for your child while in a motor vehicle, it may not be the best choice when shopping or after you get home. Often the infant is finally sleeping and the last thing you’d want to do is to wake them. However the position they are in is not optimal for the development of their spinal structure.
Babies are born with a C curve in the spine and over time they will develop the other curves in the neck and low back as they are exposed to gravity and time on their stomach. The unfortunate thing about the bucket seats is that they keep the child in the same C shape and do not allow for any extension of the neck and low back. A 20 min car ride is no big deal but when the child is left in this position for hours at a time the formation of these curves becomes delayed. They are also finding that babies can develop flat spots on their heads when they spend too much time lying on their back or in car seats.
Another issue with these carriers is: the disconnect between parent and baby. Babies want and need to be held. The constant motion and touch stimulates proper neurological growth in the infant and helps with development, both emotional and physical. This is why the close contact types of carriers like sacks, pouches, slings, and wraps are the preferred method for holding the child. They not only keep them close but also allow for a varied amount of positions for both the wearer and the child.
According to an article from the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association there are a few questions to consider when purchasing a carrier.
- Does the carrier offer numerous positions for the baby? Forward facing, chest facing, vertical, horizontal, legs folded, straight or frog-like position? (A carrier with limited positions affect your baby’s postural development)
- How long will the carrier accommodate the child’s growth and postural development? (For several months, the entire first year, into the toddler years?)
- Can a child be transferred from one wearer to another without disturbing the baby?
- How comfortably can the baby be laid down or removed from the carrier without disturbing their sleep?
- Can the baby be breast fed while being carried?
- Is the carrier easily cleaned?
- Does the carrier require the wearer to support the baby with one hand or are both wearer’s hands free?
- Can a baby be put into all carrying positions by the wearer, or is another person's help necessary?
- Is the weight of the baby evenly distributed for the wearer’s comfort while using the carrier?
- Does the carrier cause repetitive stress and postural compensations to one area of the wearer’s spine?