Babies Don’t Need Containers (And How to Avoid a Flat Head)

A baby sitting in a "container."

Babies Don’t Need Containers (And How to Avoid a Flat Head)

A day in the life of baby . . .

Baby gets into car seat and goes into the car, then car seat goes into the shopping cart, back to the car, to the travel system stroller for a walk through the park, back into the car, then home to the bouncer seat.

Babies are spending more time than ever in “containers” and they are losing important skills because of it. There is even a term for it. Babies requiring therapy because of flat head syndrome, and are called “container babies” or “bucket babies.” If our habits are changing the shape of babies’ skulls, what is happening to their brain inside?

We need to liberate these babies!

Babies need time to move and explore their world and be in different positions throughout the day.

Of course, we need to keep putting our babies to sleep on their backs, but what about play time? During awake, alert play time babies should be spending a minimum of twenty minutes per day on their tummies from the day they are born, and by six months, babies should be on their tummies for at least two hours a day.

Tummy time is when babies develop neck and trunk strength, begin to roll and crawl, and improve their vision skills and motor skills, and to avoid developing a flat head. It is so vital to early development, and yet a lot of babies never get tummy time anymore. I know sometimes when a baby is sleeping it is just so much easier to keep them in the car seat instead of waking them up and we need two hands to make dinner. I understand the need for these items to get through the day.

So what is a busy mother to do?

How can we keep our babies safe and also make sure they reach their milestones?

How about we use slings, wraps, or baby carriers instead of car seats to carry babies around in public? Our hands are free, we are not hurting our backs, and babies are safe and close to our bodies, but still have free movement. As soon as babies have some trunk support, we can use those handy germ-free cloth inserts in shopping carts and place the baby right in the cart. That way babies can practice trunk stability and head control while we shop, avoiding the development of a flat head.

We can make tummy time a priority during play time and replace the bouncy seat in the corner of the kitchen with a pack and play. Put your baby on her tummy with a few toys around her while you make dinner.

Building awareness is half the battle because when we know better, we do better.

Help spread the word, leave the car seats in the car as much as possible, and allow tummy time several times throughout the day. Your baby will thank you later!

Babies Don't Need Containers (And How to Avoid a Flat Head)
About the Author /

Dr. Aimee Ketchum is a pediatric occupational therapist and has been working in pediatrics for 20 years. Ketchum works in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at UPMC Pinnacle Hospital and lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters. Ketchum is also the owner/operator of Aimee’s Babies LLC, a child development company.

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