How does kid equipment and baby equipment affect the physical development of your child? Read on!

Kid Equipment - What's It Doing to Little Bodies? Tips From An Exercise Scientist.


As a general rule, “kid equipment” can be undesirable in three ways:

1.  It forces your child to be sedentary – time spent moving is extremely important for a child’s physical development.  Movement is the “miracle grow” of the brain, so it’s also important for learning and cognitive development.
2.  It overly supporting the body, so it takes away from the activity of postural muscles.
3.  Placing a child’s skeleton into an undesirable position, affecting his muscles, joints and nervous system.

Car Seats:  Car seats are only good in one way: They are the safest place for your child to be in the event of a motor vehicle accident.  For movement, however, they’re bad in all three ways listed above.  Time spent in a car seat means time not moving.  The child is completely and totally inactive in the seat – since her entire body is supported by the cushions of the seat, there’s no need to use any muscles at all.  Lastly, your pelvis is tucked under and your shoulders/upper back are rounded when you sit in a car seat.  This is particularly undesirable for infants because they’re still working towards developing the natural curves of their spine – the car seat directly counteracts that.  Unfortunately, cars are a real and permanent part of our lives.   Here are a few things you can do to help minimize the effect of car seats:

  1.  Spend as little time in the car seat as possible.  Organize your day to prevent unnecessary trips and time spent in the car.  Walk whenever and wherever you can.  Don’t take your baby places and leave them in their car seat.  Remove your child from the car seat to sleep.
  2.  Have an active lifestyle.  The only thing that counteracts poor movement/lack of movement is more good movement!

Cloth Diapers & Disposable Diapers:  In most cases, all types of diapers force a child’s legs apart and affect their walking gait/leg position in some way.  I love cloth diapers because they’re cute and environmentally friendly, but they’re a huge offender when it comes to alignment – they’re so bulky and force little legs apart quite a lot, which impacts your baby’s movement quality and ability.  Whether you use cloth or disposable diapers, give your child as much naked time as possible.  Make sure you’re choosing the right size diaper for your child so you don’t have too much bulky fabric accumulating between their legs.  Change disposable diapers frequently to avoid the “mass” of wet diaper between your baby’s legs.   Note:  Your pediatrician should check your baby’s pelvis for abnormalities at check ups.

Strollers: Strollers force your child to be sedentary AND often put them in an undesirable body position.  Go for baby carrying or baby wearing, instead.  Ask your older ones to walk – they’ll learn about how they’re expected to behave as well at the same time they’re getting physical activity.

Wraps & Carriers: I prefer baby carrying (just using your arms) over baby wearing because wraps, slings and carriers often OVER support infants.  This takes away from their ability to use the postural muscles of their head, neck and trunk.  Still want to use your wrap or carrier?  Reevaluate your infant every few weeks and adjust the position of your wrap or carrier according to their abilities .  For example, fold your wrap down a little more so your baby is only supported up to the middle back – she has to support her upper back and head herself.

Booster Activity Seats:  These are the seats with toys all around them for baby to play with – they only allow a little rotation, so they limit a baby’s movement at an age where what the baby really needs to do is develop functional sitting – the only way to do that is by moving!!  They need to be moving via tummy time, being carried (upright stability), rolling and more.  The only benefit to a booster activity seat is that it might give mom a brief break to do something that she can’t do while carrying a baby.

Bottle Feeding v. Breastfeeding:  The movements of bottle feeding are different than breastfeeding, so the mouth & jaw develop differently.  Read more about the implications of oral development here.

Coming soon:
Baby Seats
The Bumbo Seat

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