From the perspective of a movement expert and child development nerd...
5 things to consider not registering for or purchasing:
1. Floor seats like the Bumbo and Sit Me Up
I think there is a huge misconception when it comes to these seats: that they help a baby learn to sit. That's what marketing teams will try to convince you! But here's the thing about floor seats. They don't do that! A baby will not learn to sit by sitting in one of these chairs. They learn to sit by practicing all of the prerequisite skills on the floor without any interference.
These seats also encourage really poor postural alignment. The bucket seat promotes a posterior pelvic tilt and resulting in a rounded "C" shape. This position is not a constructive position for being upright against gravity, especially over prolonged periods of time. A slouched position also makes it difficult for a baby to lift their head or activate their core for stability in sitting. This could cause a baby to fall out if they do not have the requisite strength and stability. That said, these chairs should actually not be used if a baby cannot sit independently. Slumping, slouching, and leaning while upright in a baby chair are big postural clues that baby needs a few more weeks or months before he/she is ready to use it.
And if they can sit independently, then they probably don't need a chair on the floor anyway. I would pass on these.
If you feel like you want one, the best option out there is the Up Seat. It does not have a bucket seat that promotes poor spinal alignment. This seat is designed to facilitate better positioning of the pelvis and engage the muscles responsible for proper upright posture.
If you decide to use a floor seat, I would limit use to 15 minutes at a time no more than twice a day, especially if other gear is being used.
2. Baby carriers that encourage improper positioning
The way you wear your baby can impact hip health, for better and for worse. It is important to pick out a carrier that offers a wide seat for support, positioning the knees above the hips forming an "M" or "frog" position of the legs. This puts less pressure on the hip joints and protects them from hip dysplasia. Carriers that encourage a baby's legs to get pushed together and just hang with gravity can increase the risk for hip dysplasia. It is best to keep your baby facing you for as long as possible, at least until they are a steady sitter (6-8 months), to further reduce the risk of hip dysplasia.
I recommend this carrier.
I get it. Dock A Tots are magical little cushions that come in all sorts of adorable trendy prints. BUT, the downsides outweigh the benefits in my opinion. DockATots are marketed as cosleepers, but according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, only things labeled as "crib, bassinet, and play-yard" are considered a safe sleep environment. Therefore, I would not recommend using this for napping or cosleeping. This is mostly because they restrict a baby's ability to reposition themselves, limiting their freedom of movement and reducing opportunity for exploration. Believe it or not, a lot of learning can happen in the crib or bassinet during sleep! During awake times, I am also hesitant to support use of loungers because they restrict full movement of the head, muffle sounds, limit the field of vision, and restrict gross motor movement.
4. Bouncy seats
These types of seats are not necessary, and really only serve as a convenience for mom and dad. Which, you will want. Like, where do you put baby who can't sit yet if you want to go to the bathroom in peace, or take a shower, or stir the boiling pot on the stove? There are better options than a bouncy seat. In my flagship course MINDFUL Steps to Motor Milestones, we go over lots of better options for containing a baby without using a container.
The biggest problem with baby bouncers is they contain a baby in one position, restrict movement, muffle sound, limit peripheral vision, and support the head in one position that can increase the risk of developing or worsening flat spots. They mimic the same semi-reclined position that a baby will be in while in the car seat, and it is just too easy to lose track of how much time baby spends in gear like this. If possible, I just wouldn't even tempt yourself with the option because they serve no developmental benefit.
5. Activity centers, exersaucers, and walkers
If any of these are on your registry, you sure are thinking ahead a number of months! Way to go! However, let's clear up a few things. These devices do not help babies learn to stand, they do not help babies learn to walk, they really do not help babies do anything (except for maybe smile because they are fun). If anything, they give a baby a false sense of what standing is. They serve no purpose for your baby's sensory motor growth.
Additionally, it is incredibly hard to get proper leg and foot alignment in devices like this, and often encourage a baby to jump or stand on their tip toes. That can impact calf muscle tone and puts unnecessary pressure on delicate hip joints, especially if used too soon.
I actually have to warn you about walkers. They are very unsafe, and have been banned in many countries. They also do not promote a natural pattern of walking.
For more thorough information on baby gear products (the pros, cons, and safe-use tips) and a gentle parenting guide to supporting your baby's motor development in the first year, check out my MINDFUL Steps course for new moms.
Until next time, air hugs!
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Hi! Austen here. Pediatric OT obsessed with leggings and all things child development. Welcome to my journal! I hope to educate and empower parents and caregivers with science inspired insights, effective strategies, and confidence.