by Dan Rindler, GCFP
Bumbos and Jumperoos and Nap-Nannies – oh my! Unfortunately many of the products created for infants these days have more to do with convenience for parents, and may not actually support optimal infant development. This is part I of a series of baby items I suggest are best avoided and a few recommendations too. I originally wrote this list for my good friend when his wife was expecting. I hope you’ll find it helpful!
These are general guidelines, and every baby is different. Please take this in the spirit intended: as a list of suggestions. Watch your baby closely and make up your own mind about what is best!
Items to Cross Off the Registry:
The Bumbo Seat
Putting babies in an upright, unsupported, sitting position long before they can find it themselves creates many issues. This seat not only does that, but it also practically locks the baby in one position. Watch any baby who can move in and out of sitting on their own, they don’t stay in any one position for more than a few seconds, maybe a minute at the very most. This seat forces them to hold one position with no choice. Infants naturally gravitate toward movement, and chairs like these repress babies’ natural instincts. See a great article on the bumbo seat here.
(The type with a seat in the middle, not push toys)
Studies have shown that these seats delay actual walking. Putting babies upright doesn’t actually practice much that has to do with standing or walking without support, but it does practices bad posture and unnecessary muscle tone in the head, neck, shoulders. Like many of these “Un-registry” recommendations, I’m not saying that your baby wouldn’t like being in one of these – they probably would, but they would also probably like sugar water and maybe even cookies too! There are times when we can know what’s better for them.
Bad for your back and theirs – there are many websites about this. The newest model is somewhat improved, so if you do choose to use one I’d recommend that latest version. I think there are many carriers that do a much better job for both babies’ and parents’ bodies. Some of them are cheaper too! See some better recommendations below.
If you’d like to have a seat for your baby, a better alternative to the Bumbo is the bouncy seat. These seats have a kind of a sling back and support a baby from head to tail in the natural c-curved shape of their spine. Look for a model that isn’t too upright, it should allow your baby to recline so that the weight of their head is supported by the seat.
Baby Carrier -Wrap style
Using a wrap supports your baby and spreads their weight over your shoulders and hips much better than any other carrier. Moby is the best known, is easy to learn to use, and works well with newborns/young infants. As your baby gets heavier though, the stretchy fabric may not offer enough support. If you look around, you will find fabric wraps that are less stretchy and will last you longer than the Moby. Also there are thin breathable fabrics for summer. Whatever your feelings about the attachment parenting movement, we all can take a page from their book when it comes to carriers – they have the baby carrying thing figured out! If you can deal with learning to use a material wrap you’ll find it’s great for your back/neck/shoulders and the best support for your baby as they get bigger. If you get used to a wrap from the start, you’ll find that you use it through many stages of your baby’s development, probably longer than any other carrier.
For those not interested in a wrap, Ergo, Beco or Boba carriers are a good alternative. (There are many other brands of similar carriers – the best way to shop is in person rather than online to try them out and see what works for you and your baby.) Mei-Tai’s are something of a compromise between these carriers and a wrap– with a formed top and a tie around the waist. Another alternative is the Baby K’tan style carriers which are kind of like a pre-wrapped Moby. They take a little less fussing with and many parents love them, but they’re not as adjustable as a wrap. I’m not a fan of ring slings for heavier babies though some people love them and they can work well. I’ve noticed that unless you’re good about alternating shoulders they can leave parents feeling very asymmetrical and achy.
That’s it for Part I. Part II will be out soon with more suggestions including toys, diapers and more!