Safe But Skeptical: Exersaucers, Walkers, Jumpers, And Seats
Devices may keep your baby safe, but they also keep them stationary. Read on to learn how to keep your baby out of harm’s way while on the track to gross motor success!
There’s a Method to the Madness
Imagine placing your fingers on a keyboard and trying to learn to type… before you know the alphabet! Building blocks of your child’s development are important, and the natural order DOES matter. Gross motor milestones are the sequential order in which children learn to lift their head, roll, crawl, and stand with all of those special moments in between. Rolling teaches the fundamentals of rotating and coordinating your arms and legs to achieve movement. You carry these skills with you when you begin to crawl. Sitting teaches stability of the head and trunk before adding legs to the equation to stand and eventually walk!
Jumping Ahead by Jumping Around
Using seats, walkers, and jumpers may seem like a way to promote skills and keep your child safe, but they can actually be harmful to the natural acquisition of skills. Devices provide back and hip stability so your child does not feel a need to learn to activate their own muscles to achieve the position! They also “contain” the baby so they are not motivated to rotate and explore, learning to change positions through movement. If your child is not crawling yet, their body isn’t ready to add ankles and feet to the mix!
The following habits can develop if a child is spending too much time in a walker or jumper:
- Tip toe standing and walking
- Falling backwards when standing and sitting
- “Swimming” when laying on belly
- Difficulty reaching forward in sitting and standing
Do you see your child demonstrating these patterns? A pediatric physical therapist can help promote proper gross motor development and break these habits!
Using seats, jumpers, and walkers to keep your child safe while you prepare meals and clean the house?
If you will be more than 10 minutes, Try these alternatives to ensure your child is out of harm’s way while developing and exploring:
- Play Pens: Portable cribs keep your child safe and within 4 walls while allowing them to move freely and use their own muscles to explore and play.
- Play Nest: A play nest looks like a giant donut to give your baby cushions all around while promoting rotation and movement to explore all sides!
- Get creative! Laundry baskets, large couch pillows, and boppy pillows can help place your infant in safe areas (before they turn into climbers, of course!)