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The Importance of Baby Mobility

By Lindsay Pinchuk

Our modern world provides a variety of fabulous carriers, swaddling wear and baby gear!  These wonderful devices grant us the ability to bond with our baby, giving lots of loveys and touch time, while maintaining freedom to carry out the necessary daily tasks.  However, overreliance on these products may be limiting your babies’ development.
Does having my baby confined or supported most the time adversely affect their development?  Yes!  A newborn baby needs external support from you or augmented by baby gear because they lack their own internal support.  For example, contoured foam baby seats provide semi-rigid, external support for a baby to be placed in a seated position.  Conversely, independent sitting requires strong muscles and good balance, or internal support, to enable your baby to maintain an upright posture.  In the first example the gear restricts the baby and maintains them in a sitting position.  In the second instance the baby moves freely and practices sitting skills.
Make a change starting now with the Baby Freedom Cycle!  Wear. Gear. Go.  Follow the sample Baby Freedom Cycle below to determine how much free movement time your baby has each day.
Baby Freedom Cycle “Wear. Gear. Go.

Step 1:  Wear and Gear Schedule.  Estimate the total time in 24 hours your baby uses these items through out the day.  For example:
1.5 hrs. Car seat                 1 hr. Bouncer                            1 hr. Exerciser
1 hr. Jumper                        1 hr. Seated walker                6 hrs. Swaddle                              2 hrs. Highchair                  2 hrs. Carrier                       1 hr. Stroller
1 hr. Seat                                1 hr. Swing
In this case, your baby spends 18.5 out of 24 hours, or 77% of the day restricted or limited in their mobility.  Such a schedule does not provide a baby with sufficient practice opportunity to reach the ~3,000 repetitions needed to master a gross motor skill.
Step 2:  Practice Makes Perfect! Practicing the basic motor skills makes your baby stronger and optimizes growth by developing their internal support mechanisms.  Consciously carve out periods from the schedule you identified above for your baby to practice rolling, sitting, crawling, standing and walking.  Now that you have identified your babies’ schedule and use of gear let’s take a closer look at how to increase your baby’s freedom to move cycle.
Step 3:  Go! Allow your baby to be in a safe open space with supervision.  As your baby moves into the 5 to 10 month range, the majority of the schedule should shift from “Wear and Gear” phases to “Go” focused activities.  Step back and watch your baby THRIVE as they naturally move and explore their environment.
Disclaimer:  The information provided is based upon expected baby development.  If you have questions or concerns about your baby’s development please follow up with your pediatrician. 
 Dr. Shannon Davis PT, DPT is a mother of two girls 5 and 2. Doctorate and Masters degrees in Physical Therapy.  She is a MOVE ™ (Mobility Opportunities Via Experience) International Trainer for Adults and has been working for over 11 years providing specialized services to children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities in schools, day programs and home settings.  Dr. Shannon Davis PT, DPT is the CEO of Inspiration Physical Therapy Inc., which provides therapy consultation services and Inspire Create LLC. which is the parent company of the Little Balance Box™. She also participates in a variety of client advocacy activities at the local and state levels and philanthropic causes.

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