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Container Baby Syndrome: Here’s What Parents Should Know

Anyone caring for an infant knows that sense of relief when you find a safe place to put them for a much-needed break. Bouncy seats, bassinets, nursing pillows, and swings, often referred to as “baby containers’ ‘, can become a parent or caregiver must-have accessory.

But how much is too much time for an infant to spend in a baby container?

According to experts, less is more.

This news comes as a surprise to many parents and caregivers who assume seats, swings, and jumpers are helping with development. But the truth is children’s bodies are not in proper alignment while in these devices, and this can negatively affect development.

When babies spend too much time being shuffled from one container to the next, it can cause something called “container baby syndrome”, a condition often identified by:

  • Delays in certain motor skill milestones like rolling over, sitting, or standing

  • The development of plagiocephaly, or flat spots, on the head

  • The development of torticollis, a tightening in the neck that occurs when the head is turned to one side for an extended period

  • Poor muscles strength in the legs and core

While the effects of container baby syndrome can be reversed, it is best to avoid the condition altogether, and having your child enrolled in childcare can help. Here’s how.

Educators Avoid Containers

When it comes to container baby syndrome, childcare providers know the symptoms to look for and how to avoid it. While in childcare, your child is encouraged to move, stretch, wriggle, and roll in natural ways that are in line with their current developmental stage. Playpens are often used to allow babies to wiggle and move, building muscle strength.

But rest assured, your child is not left unattended. Time in the playpen is carefully monitored, and children spend plenty of time in the arms of nurturing caregivers, receiving snuggles and responses to their cries and coos, all of which supports social and emotional development.

When container time is necessary during childcare hours (during snack time, for example), educators aim to limit this time to 15 – 20 minutes, before once again letting the baby squirm and move in a safe environment.

Educators Love Floor Time

Educators know the value of a good tummy time session. Spending time playing freely on the floor allows babies to engage in full body movement. This, in turn, helps them build strength in a variety of muscles including the arms, legs, spine, neck, and core. Floor time is also essential in building gross motor skills, those larger, stronger muscles so essential in helping an infant hold his or her head up, sit, crawl, walk, and run. Experts recommend starting with short tummy time sessions for 1 – 2 minutes at a time, 2 – 3 times a day, once your baby is a few weeks old.

Tummy time sessions can gradually be extended to 10 – 15-minute sessions several times a day as the baby grows stronger. Tummy time is always supervised, and educators use items like books and baby-safe mirrors to engage your baby as he or she works (and make no mistake, tummy time is hard work for babies!).

Laying on their backs on a cushioned mat or rug is also beneficial as it allows infants to stretch, roll over, look around, and engage with their environments. Educators will often encourage babies to move their head, arms, and legs by clapping and singing to them or engaging them with an eye-catching toy.

Back time is also the safest way for babies to nap. Even newborns should be placed on their backs when sleeping. Educators know that a baby should never sleep on their side or tummy.

Limit Container Time at Home

We understand how convenient containers are when you are home with a baby and need to get so many tasks accomplished. But the same rule used in childcare centers should be followed at home—less is best.

According to the Neurological and Physical Abilitation (NAPA) Center babies should get no more than 15 – 20 minutes, twice daily, of container time each day. It’s important to note this does not include the time your baby spends being transported in a car seat. NAPA also recommends using a pram when out and about instead of other containers as they allow for more movement.

At Clovel, we know you want what’s best for your baby. Our educators are committed to limiting your child’s time in containers, and we encourage you to do the same while your little love is at home. Remember that infancy is a very short season—your sweet squirming baby will be up and running in no time at all. Keeping him or her out of containers and allowing for plenty of natural, wiggly movement is the key to developing the strong muscles and bones that will be needed to carry them on all their toddling adventures.

Thanks for reading,
Clovel Childcare
1300 863 986