Container syndrome – how modern products are impacting children’s health and development today
There are so many wonderful new products on the market today to help us care for our babies. Some of these are essential for safety, and some are designed just for our convenience. These products include infant travel systems that allow you to move your child from the car to a stroller without ever removing him or her from their seat, and other products such as bouncy seats, infant rockers, and swings. Babies tend to sleep well in many of these products, and they may end up spending a lot of time in them.
Because of the frequent use of these types of products today, many modern babies can end up staying basically in one position for much of their day. This has led to the development of a newer condition being dubbed “container syndrome”, which is a broad term used to describe delays in infant development which are related to babies spending too much time in these types of containers, and not getting enough tummy time. Tummy time is extremely important to do regularly with all babies.
The incidence of container syndrome has increased steadily over time, as more and more infant restraining devices have emerged on the consumer market. In the 1990’s in particular there was a sharp rise in the condition. Developmental delays have been noticed in roughly 22% of infants who spend the majority of time on their backs, and doctors believe that tummy time, time in slings or carrier pouches, and the use of seats which require infants to use their neck and back muscles rather than providing a head rest may prove beneficial in preventing container syndrome as well as related motor skill and developmental delays.
Combined with medical recommendations to place children to sleep on their backs, “container” use has caused many infants to have weak neck muscles and in some cases has contributed to the incidence of flattening of the head known as flat head syndrome. You can find a lot of information here on this site about this condition, and how to prevent and treat it.