As a parent, you want what is best for your child. You often ask us about how to help your child develop optimally and what tools you might need to do so. In this blog, we answer “Does my Infant Really Need…?”, we get a little messy in the name of development, and offer you a Developmental Food Continuum to help you feed your baby according to his/her developmental stage!
Does My Infant Really Need….?
- Floor play mat – Not a necessity but can be helpful when helping your baby to enjoy tummy time. A baby needs to start tummy time everyday within the first 2 weeks of life with proper supervision to support muscle strength and development. If your baby does not like tummy time on the floor, try having him lying on your stomach. Then you can provide face-to-face interaction and comfort at the same time.
- Boppy pillow – Not only can a boppy be helpful for positioning while feeding, it is a great way to provide tummy time when your baby is learning to lift her head off the floor. A boppy can also be used as a safety precaution when your baby is learning to sit by himself.
- Bumbo seat, Exersaucer, walker, door jumper – All of these pieces of equipment are not necessary and, if used without caution and reserve, can actually be harmful to development. These were created with busy parents in mind and not appropriate child development, as they encourage an infant to be sitting/standing before her muscles are able to do this on her own. This means that the time your infant should be on the floor exploring and using muscles independently, she is stuck in an unnatural position, but thinks she is able to move this way since the equipment does all the work. If you do choose to use any of these pieces of equipment do so only for a few minutes a day and when there is no other safe option, such as when you need to occupy her time while you take a quick shower or use the restroom.
- Baby swing – Many babies find the swing calming and, when used in conjunction with other techniques (ie holding, rocking, and baby carrier) throughout the day, it is a good choice. Never force an unhappy child to stay in a swing, some babies cannot handle the movement. If the swing is able to change directions (ie back and forth to side to side), do so from time to time.
- Swaddle blanket – There are many options for swaddling today, it is just a matter of finding what works for you and your infant. Swaddling can help to calm a startle reflex, which can be frequently activated when a baby sleeps on his back as recommended.
- Baby Carrier – There are now various styles of baby carriers, wraps, and slings that can be used with both and infant and toddler. Various studies from around the world have shown that positive benefits of carrying your baby everyday including better sleep/wake patterns, less crying, and improved ability to gain weight. Please make sure to follow all safety instructions provided with your carrier.
- Bouncy Seat – A bouncy seat can be helpful in many ways when caring for your infant. Many have a built in vibration feature, which is not necessarily a benefit. Vibration can be a very powerful sensation and should not be used for long periods of time.
- Fancy toys that light up and play music – Many toys designed for infants and toddlers require no active participation and creative problem solving, you just push a button and watch/listen. Instead, provide your infant with simple items to explore, such as fabrics with different textures, a rattle that just shakes and is colorful, or toys that squeak. Think about how your child might use her own muscles and creativity when interacting with a toy before you purchase it. Skip the batteries.
Developmental Food Continuum was created by Toomey & Associates to support you in choosing foods in the appropriate order for your baby’s development.