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