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Container Baby Syndrome

By Nuala Genyk, MScPT, DOH, Pediatric Physiotherapist



What is Container Baby Syndrome?

As a parent or caregiver, there are so many different equipment options available - bouncers, rockers, swings and chairs to name a few! Should we be using these baby ‘containers’? Are they safe?


Although there are so many of these products available, extended use of containers can lead to a developmental issue called Container Baby Syndrome, as these devices limit a baby’s ability to move and explore their environment.


What is Container Baby Syndrome?


Container baby syndrome is a collection of problems caused by a baby spending an excessive amount of time in any container. Although containers are used to help keep babies safe and allow caregivers to transport babies easily, they confine babies and prevent them from moving. They often limit a baby's ability to kick, use their arms and hands, and move their head from side to side. Limiting these movements can prevent a child from developing the strength and coordination required to roll over, sit up and crawl.


We know that children need to explore their environment in order to develop neural circuitry required to develop motor skills.


What are containers?

  • Car seats

  • Vibrating seats and rockers

  • Baby swings

  • Bumbo seats

  • Exercaucers

  • Jolly Jumpers

  • Walkers (that the child sits in)

What kind of problems are associated with Container Baby Syndrome?

  • Delayed development of motor skills

  • Decreased strength and coordination

  • Baby flat head (plagiocephaly) and torticollis

  • Delayed visual motor skills and poor hand/eye coordination

  • Delayed cognitive development

  • Toe walking

How can I prevent my baby from developing these problems?

  • When your baby is awake, limit use of ‘containers’ such as car seats, swings and bouncers.

  • Allow children to play freely on the floor, in a playpen or in a play yard.

  • Limit time spent in the car seat - use car seats solely for transport.

  • Consider using a baby carrier instead of a car seat/stroller system.

  • Use a bassinet stroller when taking small babies for a walk.

  • Gradually increase the time your baby spends on their tummy throughout the day - try one session of floor and tummy time every hour your baby is awake.

  • Allow your child to play in a playpen or play yard which allows them to safely explore their environment.

  • Limit container use to 10-15 minutes at one time, for a maximum of one hour per day.

  • Aim for twice as much floor time as ‘container’ time.


Questions?

If you have any questions about use of ‘containers’ or your child’s physical development, please do not hesitate to contact Nuala, Pediatric Physiotherapist at ngenyk@perfectbalance.ae, or call us at 02 441 3316.


References:


Diamond, A. (2000). Close interrelation of motor development and cognitive development and of the cerebellum and prefrontal cortex. Child development, 71(1).


Persing, J., James, H., Swanson, J, Kattwinkel, J. (2003). American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Practice and Ambulatory Medicine. Pediatrics 112:199-202.


Physical Therapy Guide to Container Baby Syndrome. Retrieved November 2020 from: https://www.choosept.com/symptomsconsitionsdetails/physical-therapy-guide-to-container-baby-syndrome.