Gina Mydlo, PT, DPT
Bouncy Seats Should Come with a Warning Label
Updated: Mar 13, 2021
First of all, let's define what a container is.
Containers are anything that you can put baby in that does not allow free movement of baby’s body = bouncy seats, baby swings, rounded cradles, play seats, exersaucers, jumpers, baby walkers, and car seats.
Now you may have purchased or have registered for some, or all of these containers. And that's because our society has made us feel like our babies are most comfortable and happiest when they are relaxing in containers like bouncy seats and baby swings. ⠀
But the truth is, our babies don’t need fancy expensive equipment to be happy and comfortable!⠀
In fact, those containers can quickly cause deformities and asymmetries in our baby’s head, neck, spine, and hips that in turn make it more difficult to position baby comfortably. And those are just some of the risks when using containers.
Here are some other possible risks of excessive container use:
Can cause developmental delays
Can cause physical deformities
Can cause sleeping issues
Can cause feeding issues
Can put baby in unsafe positions
And not only that - they are expensive! If you get sucked into buying all the fancy containers, you could spend upwards of $500-$1000!
Let's dive a little deeper into WHY containers like bouncy seats, baby swings, and inclined cradles can be detrimental to baby.
How containers can cause developmental delays and physical deformities:
As pediatric therapists, we are most often called in to see a baby AFTER there is already an issue.
Two really common problems we treat in infants is torticollis (tight neck) and flat head syndrome. For most babies, these occur because of EXCESSIVE time spent in bouncy seats and swings. ⠀
What happens is, baby gets cozy in a bouncy seat and because baby is not strong enough to hold his head up, gravity pushes his head to one side. He can’t lift and turn it easily, so his head stays there. Every time he gets placed in a bouncy seat or swing, his head drops back into that comfy spot. Over time (and this can happen very quickly), one side of baby’s neck gets tight while the other side gets too stretched and weak. Now baby has an even HARDER time correcting his head to the middle, even though he is getting stronger as he gets older. Because his head is always in that position on his back, he gets a little flat spot on the back of his head where all the pressure is. This also makes it more difficult for him to turn his head to move away from the flat spot.⠀
When baby gets tightness in his neck, he also gets tightness in his body. If one side of the body is tight, then that makes it harder for baby to roll over, turn his head, and reach to the other side. This can quickly cause developmental delays and if left untreated, it will typically not resolve on its own. In fact, if the flat spot worsens, baby could require a helmet to correct the issue, and continued therapy to address the tightness and developmental delays.⠀
That’s a lot that can happen from just sitting in a bouncy seat!! And when I explain this to parents, they always say “Wow I wish I knew that before I bought the bouncy seat!”⠀
How containers can cause feeding issues:
When we evaluate a baby for feeding issues, we look at every aspect of that baby’s health and environment. Part of my job as a physical therapist is to assess for tightness in baby’s body that could be affecting baby’s oral motor movements and ability to latch to the breast or bottle. ⠀
We know that excessive time in containers (bouncy seats, baby swings, inclined cradles) can increase baby’s risk of torticollis and flat head syndrome, but it can also cause excessive tightness in baby’s neck, shoulders, back, and facial muscles, which leads to difficulty latching to a breast or bottle.⠀
When baby is placed in a bouncy seat for example, baby’s head is flexed forward, keeping baby’s chin near his chest. Baby is not able to extend his neck, therefore not able to stretch out those front neck muscles. Baby’s upper body is rounded, again causing tightness in the shoulders and upper back since baby is not able to extend his body in the bouncy seat.⠀
If baby’s body is tight, that can lead to tightness in the mouth. If baby has tightness in the mouth, that increases the risk of a shallow latch and poor oral motor dysfunction, which can lead to lots of issues like inability to latch, reflux, bottle aversion, gassiness, and so on.⠀
So as if we needed yet another reason to avoid containers, add feeding skills to the list!⠀
How containers can cause sleeping issues:
Sleep is so important for babies. It is the time when they process the things they learn and grow.
Excessive time in bouncy seats can cause sleep issues for several reasons. As I just explained, baby's neck and shoulders can get tight in these rounded, inclined seats which can then cause baby to be uncomfortable when you go to lie them down flat for bed. Their body can't relax and they want to go back to that flexed/bent position, so then parents get trapped into the cycle of baby ONLY sleeping well in a container.
But this is so dangerous and unsafe! Babies should never sleep in inclined containers like bouncy seats, baby swings, or inclined cradles. View my video to find out WHY (and no it's not only because baby can roll out).
If a baby product has the potential to cause that much delay, deformity, and safety concerns, leading parents to spend thousands of dollars on therapy and treatment, there should be a warning label on the box!⠀
So why are these being sold? Unfortunately, big named companies just want to sell their stuff and they are NOT experts on infant development. They will put anything in a box or label just to get you to buy it. This is a huge problem, and something that therapists are working hard to educate parents on.
And that's why we HAVE to start informing parents of the true risks of these baby products from the start, and why we made our FREE guide on How to Buy for Baby One of our biggest goals is to help parents learn how to shop like experts, without getting tricked or fooled with misleading advertisement, and this guide will help with that!
Gina Mydlo, PT, DPT