Mother and Baby

Time To Ditch The Pushchair?

Free movement is vital to your baby’s development – something that buggies, baby rockers and seats don’t allow, claims an expert. But could you cope if you used yours less?

Pushchairs and baby seats are key pieces of baby kit that undoubtedly make life with a baby much easier. But a neuro-pyschologist expert has now raised concerns that the overuse of baby equipment such as pushchairs and bouncers could hold back a baby’s social and physical development in the first three years of life. 

The warning comes from Sally Goddard Blythe, director of the Institute for Neuro Psychology in Chester, who says that a generation of under-threes are spending more and more time in ‘restricted sedentary positions’ – hindering their development.

Speaking ahead of a conference today titled ‘Building the brain: what’s love got to do with it?’ staged by What About the Children? charity, Sally warns that mums and dads are using baby equipment for long periods of time while they get on with their personal life. She also says forward-facing buggies leaves babies with less face-to-face time, which previous research by Dundee University found can leave tots ‘emotionally impoverished’ and less likely to laugh or interact with their parents.

Sally warns that mums and dads are using baby equipment for long periods of time while they get on with their personal life

‘Attention, balance and co-ordination skills learned during the first 36 months of life support cognitive learning and have been linked to performance on SATs at school,’ explains Sally. ‘Infants need opportunity for free movement and exploration, whether that is tummy time, cuddling or rough play.’

Sally says that parents are also using tablets and smartphones to distract their children, meaning that babies aren’t spending as much time playing, talking and singing with their parents as they should – which could impede social interaction which helps physical development.

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However, Sally recognises that all the mentioned baby products are necessary and if used in moderation then ‘there is probably no problem at all’.

‘I am not anti-baby equipment but I see the results of restricted physical interaction in the early years, and also a new generation of parents who are not aware of what babies and children need in the early years to build the physical foundations for learning,’ explains Sally.

‘The best playground for a baby in the first months of life is firstly the mother’s body and secondly a clean blanket on the floor. From there a child learns head and neck control, and eventually how to roll and sit by himself – this is different from the experience of being placed in a sitting position by an adult.

How do you help aid your baby’s development? Let us know in the comments box below.


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