From the perspective of a movement expert and child development nerd...
Here are 5 things that should be avoided if at all possible:
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. But, here's the thing about floor seats. They don't! A baby will not learn to sit by using one of these chairs. In fact, these seats encourage really poor postural alignment, and put the spine into a rounded "C" shape. This is not a constructive position for being upright against gravity, especially over prolonged periods of time. It also makes it difficult for a baby to lift the head or activate the core for stability. These chairs should not be used if a baby cannot sit independently. And if they can sit independently, then they don't need a chair on the floor. So, just pass on these.
2. Baby carriers that encourage improper positioning
The way you wear your baby can impact hip health, for better and for worse. So, pick out a carrier that offers a wide seat for support, and will encourage baby to sit in it forming an M with their legs. This puts less pressure on the hip joints and protects them from dysplasia. Carriers that encourage a baby's legs to get pushed together and just hang can increase the risk for 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 playyard" are considered a safe sleep environment. Therefore, I would not recommend using this for napping or cosleeping. Mostly because they restrict a baby's ability to reposition themselves, and that limits their freedom of movement. Believe it or not, a lot of learning can happen in the crib during sleep! And during awake times, I am also hesitant to support use of loungers because they muffle sounds, limit the field of vision, and restrict 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 this seat. The problem with these is they contain baby, restrict movement, muffle sound, limit peripheral vision, and support the head in one position that can increase the risk of developing a flat spot. They mimic the same semi-reclined position that 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 that. So I just wouldn't even tempt yourself with the option.
5. Activity centers/exersaucers
If this is on your registry, you sure are thinking ahead a number of months! Way to go! However, let's clear up a few things about jumpers. They do not help baby learn to stand, they do not help baby learn to walk, they really do not help baby do anything (except for maybe smile because they are fun). But from a developmental perspective, it is incredibly hard to get proper leg and foot alignment in devices like this, and often encourages 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 would pass on these.
If you are interested in more thorough reviews on baby gear products (the pros, cons, and safe-use tips for a variety of devices), you may want to download my Baby Gear Guide!
Until next time, air hugs!
Hi! Austen here. Portland based 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.