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How Can I Prevent Container Baby Syndrome?

May 16th, 2020 | by Dana Thomsen, PT, DPT, PCS

Dana Thomsen, PT, DPT, PCS

May 16th, 2020

What is Container Baby Syndrome?  

Simply put, container baby syndrome is when a baby spends most of their day within some sort of device, such as a car seat or stroller, that limits their freedom to move and explore their environment on their own.

Infant development is amazing! Every movement your newborn makes serves a purpose in their development.  Your baby needs to have the opportunity to explore and play in all developmental positions such as on their back, tummy, side, or supported sitting.  Opportunities to play in these positions furthers their development both physically and cognitively. When children are confined to a container, they lose out on freedom of movement to play and explore.

What is Considered a Container?

A ‘container’ is anything that confines the child from being able to be on the floor and have freedom of movement. Some common containers are:  

  • Car seats
  • Swings
  • Jumparoos 
  • Bumbo chairs
  • Highchairs
  • Exersaucers 
  • Walkers
  • Strollers
  • Vibrating chairs 

Why It Matters

When children are just moved from container to container throughout the day, they run the risk of developing certain conditions: 

  • Plagiocephaly: flattening of their head 
  • Torticollis: tight neck muscles resulting in a neck tilt 
  • Delay in motor milestone acquisition 
  • Impacting development of hips and spine 

How Do I Prevent Container Baby Syndrome? 

I get it, life is busy with a newborn!  You do not feel as if there is enough time in the day to cook, clean, take a shower yourself, and take care of your sweet new baby!  There is a place for containers to help you get things done around the house throughout the day. 

Keep in mind, the total amount of time the infant should be in a container should be minimal in comparison to their awake floor playtime.

Here Are Some Ideas to Help Prevent Container Baby Syndrome:

  • Outside of transport, limit container use to 15-20 min, 2 times throughout your baby’s day. 
  • Limit the use of containers to when you need to keep your baby safe while you are trying to do something productive around the house! 
  • Create a safe space on the floor for your baby to play, whether that be with foam mats, partitions to keep them away from pets; create an area where your baby is free to explore and play. 
  • Supervised Tummy Time – The more tummy time the better! Work towards a goal for at least 10-20 minutes during each of their awake hours of the day.  If this is a lot at first, set small goals and break up the time more throughout the hour.  
  • Baby Carriers! Opt to use a baby carrier more often than a container.  Baby carriers are less restrictive than a container.  There are still some restrictions, however, it provides the infant with more opportunity to move and there is typically no pressure on the back of their heads as well.   
  • Cuddle time!  Take more time to engage in physical touch with your baby.  It is bound to put a smile on you and your baby’s face! 

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About the Author

Dana Thomsen has been a pediatric physical therapist for 10 years, with experience in working with a wide range of diagnoses.  Her favorite part of working in the pediatric field is being able to get paid to play with such adorable children! She enjoys spending her time cuddling with her lovable dog and reading a good book. 

About NAPA Center

NAPA Center is a world-renowned pediatric therapy clinic, offering pediatric therapy for children of all ages in traditional or intensive settings. With multiple clinic locations worldwide, NAPA is committed to helping children lead their happiest, healthiest lives.

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