Having a baby is one of the most wonderful things that a person can experience. But when it comes to advice on what’s best for them and their developing brains, nervous systems and bodies, we encounter a minefield of information. And this can be said for the everyday equipment that we use and see in baby shops these days.
Here is my list of equipment to avoid and why:
JOLLY JUMPERS: These are number one on my list due to the widespread belief that they are beneficial for the child to help in walking. Contrary to this belief, they encourage muscle imbalances in the body due to the child being placed in a sitting position before they are ready. The muscle imbalance is made worse by them being able to push with their feet that then can lead to foot deformities. It can also lead to neurologically tight hip flexors, which has a long lasting effect on their body and posture even into adulthood.
Unfortunately the more problems your child has with their muscle imbalances, the more they will enjoy being in the jolly jumper. The jumping action that the jolly jumper stimulates, makes muscles that work too hard already work even harder, causing the muscle imbalance to increase. DO NOT USE ONE
FRONTPACK / BABY BJORN: These have become in vogue of the last 5-6years as they allow the parent to achieve the things they need to, like cooking or hanging out the washing, but also provide body contact. This is fine once the baby can sit unaided (~9months), unfortunately these are being used in newborns, which place the baby in an upright position before they are developmentally able and don’t provide support to the neck. This in turn increases the pressure on their spine and the young developing discs between the vertebrae.
The Inuit’s (indigenous people of arctic Canada, Eskimos) have a 40% higher incidence of Spondylolisthesis with pars defects (spinal slippage, where one vertebrae slips forward in relation to the one below with fractures of the posterior elements of the vertebra) in relation to the normal population (incidence 7%). This has been linked to that their newborns are strapped to the mothers back to be carried around, similar to the front packs causing a shearing force on the undeveloped discs and vertebrae in the lower back.
Parents when using these carriers naturally hold the child to give them support, but even then that is not enough. If possible, it would be much better to carry the baby over your shoulder and still have one hand free.
BABY WALKERS: Besides the safety issues that have been in the media such as the walker tipping over or falling down stairs, baby walkers are a big no no. They are detrimental to your baby’s development. Firstly they encouragesitting which is bad due to the pressure in the lower back and the little discs that are developing there. Secondly they encourage the child to push with their feet, long before they are ready and have developed the correct muscles for this movement. Hence muscle imbalances develop, especially through the feet, knees and hips.
PUSH TROLLEY: These are often marketed to help the child develop and encourage walking. When in fact, cruising around furniture helps develop better motor patterns and muscle co-ordination. These look great but just engrain poor muscle imbalances that might be already present. They make the child walk on their toes or with their feet turned in or out or with their hips bent. Perfect example is if we look at an elderly individual that has trouble walking and uses a walker. Their posture progressively worsens and they loose more control of their leg muscle coordination. Once these poor habits have developed, it can be very difficult to unlearn those ‘bad habits’, which in turn can have a long lasting effect.
TOY FRAMES: These are also known as play gyms. It is designed for your baby to reach and play with toys. However the toys on the frame will mostly be too big for them to play with and hold. If they are able to reach for the toy and grasp one, then they are not able to put the toy in their mouth, which is what they really want to do.
If you would like more information or would like to book an appointment at Neurohealth – please call the clinic on 9905 9099 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the contact form from our website www.neurohealthchiro.com.au
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This article is written by Dr. Steven Cannon, Chiropractor @ Neurohealth