Baby Seats, Floor Time, and "Container Syndrome"
Baby seats are helpful devices for various activities, but the correct seat and dosage must be used to ensure healthy gross motor development. The best place for a baby to develop strength, coordination, play skills, and motor milestones is on the floor where they can freely move around and explore. Baby seats can be used for short periods of time, but the floor is always recommended when possible.
Baby Seat Usage
You can begin using baby seat devices when your little one is around 3-4 months of age and when they have enough head control to hold their head up in this seated position for multiple minutes at a time. Adequate head control is crucial before placing your baby in a chair device in order to ensure their airway does not become compromised by dropping their head forward. Always ask your pediatrician or physical therapist before beginning to use these devices.
Baby chairs should only be used up to 15 minutes at a time, a few times throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is to only use them when you need a safe place for your little one while you shower, cook, or clean. Ensure you can still see and attend to your little one if needed during these times.
Baby Seat Types
Baby seats should encourage core activation and proper hip positioning to promote appropriate muscle activation patterns and healthy hip development. Check out these options for chairs that are physical therapist and parent approved:
Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat (Purchase here)
This seat allows a child to activate their core muscles by leaning forward to play with the attached toys and promotes free leg movement and healthy hip development.
The Up Seat (Purchase here)
This seat encourages an upright spine posture, promotes healthy hip positioning, and can be purchased with a tray which the child can play or eat a snack on.
“Container Syndrome” is an informal syndrome used to describe babies who are put in various container devices throughout the day instead of being placed on the floor. Container devices include things like jumpers, baby seats, Exersaucers, car seats, strollers, bouncers, and activity centers. Container devices often restrict the active movement that is required for a baby to learn new skills. Babies who are put in container devices for most of the day rather than on the floor often develop gross motor delay. Depending on the device used, container devices may also lead to plagiocephaly (flat spot on head), torticollis, and decreased strength. The best way to prevent container syndrome is to only use container devices when absolutely necessary and ensure your child gets as much floor time as possible.
Floor time doesn’t mean a baby just lying on their back. Floor time also includes tummy time, sidelying, rolling, crawling, sitting, and supported sitting with your support or a boppy pillow. Encouraging various positions during floor time helps prevent plagiocephaly and torticollis, and helps promote motor milestone achievement.
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