April 9, 2014
Every day, parents are bombarded by advertisements for baby gear such as bouncers, swings, exersaucers, play mats and jumpers. But which of these items do babies really need?
The short answer is none of the above!
The best gear for your baby’s growth and development is his or her own body. The infant body is designed to learn and grow by moving against the natural resistance of gravity, but it must be allowed to do so.
When you look closely at baby gear, it sometimes gives the impression that it helps with development and may even be necessary for normal development. However, this isn’t the case.
Nowadays, tummy time seems to need a mat or a container. Sure, these items provide the baby with lots to look at and reach for, but they don’t help his development. If he is propped up on a pillow-type roll under his chest, he is not required to use his back, neck or arm muscles to push his upper body off the floor.
Wouldn’t a blanket on a safe, clean area of the floor provide a better chance for those muscles to grow? Absolutely!
Exersaucers and jumpers present a similar issue.
Many parents think these items will help their baby learn to walk sooner, but they don’t. Instead, they provide the baby with an opportunity to be in an upright position with his feet on the floor. And because there is a seat, the baby isn’t required to use the muscles in his tummy or back to hold himself up.
A better way to encourage standing or walking is to hold your baby’s hands while he practices standing. This will cause him to use his muscles, and he will realize that an upright position is a fun and normal place to be.
It’s important to note that baby gear is not all bad. It is great when used in moderation. However, baby gear should never be used for sleeping.
In the end, give your baby the chance to move and groove against gravity and make those muscles strong!
And don’t be shy about getting down on the same level as your baby and enjoying play time together!