Q. I have heard that overuse and misuse of infant seats and other
carriers might have a relationship to future problems of ADD/ADHD and
obesity. Is there any truth to that?
A. While there are no studies as yet that indicate a direct relationship, there is information that suggests care should be taken not to overuse or misuse infant seats, car seats, and other carriers.
Human beings are mobile creatures. They are meant to be on the move much of the time. The younger the child is the more there should be movement. Babies and toddlers should be free to move as much as possible. Infant seats, car seats, and other carriers are designed to help parents for those times when they cannot either carry their children or watch them carefully as they move around, crawl, or walk. These devices were not meant to be used as much as they are today. The more babies and young children are transported, the less they are engaged in hands-on, exploratory, and exercise activities. These are the kinds of interactions that foster both the ability to focus and the opportunity to burn calories and maintain a proper weight.
A mother cannot hug, hold, and caress her baby, toddler, or young
child too much. This kind of touching is a relationship-building and
bonding activity. Interestingly enough, a mother's arms increase in
strength at the exact same rate as her baby's growth in weight. That is
why a grandparent, relative, or friend might find a baby too heavy to
carry when a mother easily totes her child from place to place.
An infant seat is that perfect place for a baby when a parent cannot
either hold his/her baby or find a safe place to put him/her down.
parents keep a baby in some kind of seat for long hours at a time.
Babies, like all other human beings, thrive on individual attention and
personal interactions. These experiences early on contribute to a
child's ability to focus and learn. They are necessary for normal
development. Moving, right from the start, is also what helps a baby,
toddler, and young child gain their needed muscle strength to accomplish
each milestone of development starting with holding up his/her head,
pushing up, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, and walking.
There are specials seats with hanging toys, vibrators, and music that
aid in the soothing process. There are also other convenient designs
that convert car seats to infant seats for parent convenience. In
addition, high chairs and swings have their place too. Upon seeing such a
variety of appealing mechanisms, it is easy to think that seats should
take the place of soft blankets and rugs, vibrations should replace
natural rocking, and that music should override natural singing.
However, this is not the case. Mom should be careful not to take her
baby from one kind of seat to another without interacting with him/her
and therefore creating an almost seamless "no-hold-your-baby" process.
While infant seats, car seats, and other baby carriers are helpful, it is important to be aware of the importance of every minute. Read, sing, talk, and play freely with your baby as much as you can. No matter what age your child is, creating hands-on personal interactions and the opportunity for movement will always be beneficial.