Mums and dads are being urged not to overuse baby’s car seat?
The advice comes from the United Chiropractic Association (UCA), which says the habit of carrying a baby around in a car seat may be harmful to both child and parent. The UCA, which has around 600 members across the UK, warns that prolonged periods on their back, in a rigid car seat risks the development of plagiocephaly, or flattening of bones in the infant’s skull (miss-shapen head). Research has linked plagiocephaly with a risk of not reaching full coordination and learning potential later on.
At Lushington Chiropractic we understand that it’s very difficult to know what to do for the best as a parent. So we thought we’d review this latest recommendation for our patients and add some explanation.
Babies spines and craniums (newly formed skulls) are delicate during these early stages of development. So we shouldn’t leave them in a rigid seat or any fixed position for a long time. Too long in any position will eventually cause problems. Baby car seats are obviously essential for travel. However, our advice is to avoid using them for all-day baby transport. Our chiropractors suggest a more upright position in a good quality baby sling is a much better carrying option than the rigid car seat, or simply moving baby from the car seat to a pram will help. We also advise parents to allow their babies as much supervised ‘tummy time’ as possible to enable good spinal development.
The UCA says that keeping your baby in a car seat for long periods means their spine remains in a C-shape, preventing the natural curves of the neck and lower back from forming.
At Lushington Chiropractic we always advise our new parents to be careful of carrying the car seat around because it can be bad for them too. The seat is rigid and heavy. It’s bulky nature means you hold it away from you. The weight of baby plus the seat can put quite a strain on the adult’s back – especially if it’s a new mum who’s still recovering from birth (or even a c-section). It’s easier to pick baby up out of the seat, hold them close to you and move with them close to you.
James Revell – Doctor of Chiropractic say: “I struggle when I drop our baby off at nursery and have to take her in with her car seat for my wife to collect her (with the car seat) later”.
It’s easier (and better for your back) to lift baby out of the seat and carry them or put them into a pram or soft baby sling.
This is backed by research, which shows that carrying your baby in a sling saves 16% of your energy.
The UCA points out that infants who are carried for three hours or more each day in their first three months of life cry 43% less often than those carried less frequently. Supervised tummy time and crawling should also be encouraged. These activities are excellent for developing the spine properly as they allow the baby to lift the head off the ground and develop the arch of the neck.
Tummy time is a great way of helping baby get into good habits right from the start. If you’re concerned about your child or baby then remember that chiropractors are well versed in the requirements of children at this tender age. Not only will a chiropractor help to assess the development of your child, they can also educate you on what to look out for through the development stages and advise on the best activities to initiate good posture and alignment in later life.
Chiropractors are highly trained to recognise when someone shouldn’t be adjusted and will refer them back to their medical practitioners and paediatricians as appropriate.
Here at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne our treatments are gentle, effective and suitable for all ages from birth to ninety (plus), so we can help you and your children. Our highly qualified and genuinely caring team have over 80 years’ experience between them. Call us today on 01323 722499.
Timothy Littlefield, et al., Car Seats, Infant Carriers, and Swings: Their Role in deformational Plagiocephaly Journal of Prosthetics & Orthotics 15 (July 2003): 102-106.
Wall-Scheffler C, Geiger K, Steudel-Numbers K. Infant carrying: The increased locomotory costs in early development. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 2007; 133: 841-846. Doi: 10,1002/ajpa.20603
Hunziker UA, Barr RZ. Increased Carrying Reduces Infant Crying: A randomized Controlled Trial. Pediatrics 1986;77(5): 641-648
By James Revell
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