I often get asked at when it is OK to put babies in bumbo seats and bouncers. The big concern is if they are putting them in too soon and/or what are the detrimental effects of putting them in too soon.
My advice is to wait until they can sit up on their own (meaning unassisted and for at least one minute). The average age is anywhere between 6-9 months. When a baby is placed involuntarily in a seated position before he or she is able to sit up on their own, the body is impeded from developing necessary tone for creeping and crawling. Many babies will develop a less-than-optimal movement pattern of bottom scooting instead of crawling to try to get to where they want to go. This has been found to not be optimal for the joints or development of lower body and torso tone. Additionally, it hampers the upper tone and chest strength related to speech and language development.
Furthermore, babies have the ability to arrive in a seated or standing position on their own if we let them have floor time to explore and strengthen their developmental movement patterns. Skipping a step in the pattern is not helpful, as each pattern connects to brain and social-emotional developments, as well as speech, language, and developing stereoscopic (depth) vision. By encouraging and being present with your baby, it helps him or her to develop a strong sense of body and self awareness and a deep trust and attachment with his or her parents and caregivers.
So what can you do instead to help aid development of necessary tone? Have the baby on his or her tummy as much as possible when he or she is awake. (tummy time is an easy way to help combat Torticollis along with chiropractic adjustments) Once the baby starts to elevate their lower legs and feet you can start to prop their arms up by placing a rolled up towel or breast feeding pillow under their chest to help them find their feet and engage with the floor. This helps to elongate the fetal “c” curve and start to develop the natural form of the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical curves. Additionally, it is helping develop muscle tone and strength in the legs all the way through the trunk,or core, of the body. Next, you can start to place objects out of the babies reach to help build up their arm and shoulder strength.
On a final note, until the baby can sit up on their own I would recommend to instead use assisted devices such as the moby wrap or ergo carrier. This allows you to do more while giving the baby the ability to explore his or her surroundings instead of putting them up in a bumbo seat or jumper when their body is not ready for it.
What is Torticollis?
- AKA “wry” neck or “twisted” neck
- Is typically caused by a shortening of the SCM (sternocleidomastoid muscle) characterized by head tilt to one side with head rotation (chin points) to the other side.
- If congenital, it can be present at birth or take up to 3 months to develop.
- Most babies with torticollis have difficulty latching to one side more than the other, have a hard time looking to one side, or will rather look at you over their shoulder instead of turning to follow you with his or her eyes.
- About 1 in 250 infants are born with Torticollis.
What are the typical causes of Torticollis?
- Use of forceps or vacuum assisted deliveries.
- Long duration of time during delivery.
- Cramping of the fetus in the uterus or abnormal positioning (ex. Breech position)
- Participation in sports
- Poor Posture
How chiropractic can help treat Torticollis?
- Chiropractors use a very light force adjustment, which is safe and very effective. Adjusting an infant is very different from adults. Chiropractors will either use their finger (using no more force than one would put on their eyeball) or and adjusting tool known as an activator.
How long does it typically take to resolve?
- Most infants usually see results after just one treatment or in a few days, but on average it typically will take around 3-4 treatments to see significant results. It is recommended to then keep your child on a maintenance plan, where your chiropractor will check your child 1x/month.
Exercises you can do at home to help alleviate (please do not hesitate to ask me to demonstrate at the office):
- Tummy Time!
- Football hold
- Exercise Ball
- Resisted hip flexion (pushing baby’s feet to chest by putting pressure on baby’s heals) while baby is lying on their back.
Why should you get your baby’s torticollis treated?
- Research has found that untreated torticollis can lead to developmental delays, vision problems, and scoliosis.
Additional Research showing the effectiveness of chiropractic and treating torticollis in children:
What is it?
- Tummy time is when your baby is laying on his or her stomach while supervised.
Why is tummy time important?
- It helps your baby develop their cervical and lumbar spinal curves.
- It helps your baby learn to push themselves up, roll over, crawl, sit up, and pull up to stand.
- It strengthens your babies suboccipital muscles (the muscles located right below the skull.
- It also strengthens other muscles of the neck, shoulders, and trunk.
- It helps develop the babies cervical facets by the neck rotation your baby does while in tummy time.
- It helps round the skull. (prevents flat head syndrome aka plagiocephaly)
- It aids in visual motor development and depth perception.
- It helps prevent twisted neck, also known as positional torticollis.
- Research has found that babies that don’t do tummy time are more likely to have developmental motor delays.
When do you start doing tummy time?
- You can start doing tummy time from the moment they are born.
- All babies should have some head control from the first day they are born.
- For example, babies that are placed in the NICU are placed on their bellies. (research has shown that our bodies function optimally when we are prone or laying face down)
What are some examples of tummy time?
- Dad or mom can lay down with baby stomach to stomach on chest.
- You can even do a step further and bring the baby away and towards your chest.
- Put the baby on a play mat or favorite blanket on their tummy. (you can place a rolled up towel/blanket under babies chest and shoulders for additional support) Get down there with them and offer them some eye to eye time and support!
- To take it a step further you can put their favorite toys, colored blocks, mirrors or anything that will catch their attention (you can start to do this around 3 months of age)
- Baby Wearing – when you wear the baby in a carrier and they are stomach to stomach with you; it is causing the baby to have to use their neck more to see all around them.
- Playing airplane.
- Burping over lap or lap sooth – place baby tummy down over lap. A hand on baby’s bottom will help steady and calm them.
- Tummy down carry or football hold – Position one hand under the tummy and between the legs and carry baby tummy down. Nestle baby close to your body to help get baby accustomed to the position.
How long and how often should you be doing tummy time?
- You and your baby should be doing tummy time EVERY DAY.
- Tummy time should be done, especially in the beginning, for 2-3 minute increments.
- Do tummy time as often as you can! You can never do tummy time too much!
- Always do tummy time while you are supervising!
- Always do tummy time on stable surfaces where baby is secure.