A blog by Dr Lin Day

The Dangers of Baby Containers

Leaving your baby in a bouncer, rocker, or other restraining container for a prolonged period of time can be dangerous….

The consequences of spending too long in a container may include flattening to the back of the head (flat head syndrome) and delayed sitting, crawling, walking and speaking skills. Your child may also develop problems such as clumsiness, poor posture and balance, and reading and writing difficulties when he or she goes to school.

All babies need opportunities to move and explore the world in order to develop physical strength and brain power. Most containers do not provide such conditions. If a bouncer, car seat or other restraining device is to be used, confinement should be limited to short periods of time only.

Although it is essential to put your baby in a car seat when travelling, use should be restricted to car journeys. If your baby is confined in an uncompromising position for a considerable period of time, he or she will become restless, uncomfortable and stiff. Spine and back disorders have been linked to prolonged use when not travelling.

Overuse of a container is a common cause of head flattening, which may also involve bulging of the forehead, fullness of the cheeks and ear misalignment. Any flattening of the soft bones of the skull can put pressure on the nerves, tissues, ligaments and blood vessels of the body and affect feeding and sleeping. It is important to take steps to correct the condition.


Here are a few ways to help your baby’s head round out naturally:

  • To remove pressure on the back of the head, wear your baby in a sling carrier. Your baby will benefit from the extra stimulation of looking around and seeing the world and you will have both hands free to get on with other things. A carrier with a wide girth that places the legs at a 90-degree angle and encourages your baby to bend his or her knees will help prevent hip dysplasia.
  • Regular tummy time during supervised waking hours gives your baby the opportunity to lift his or her head, which promotes neck extension and head turning. Tummy time also gives your baby the opportunity to exercise, which strengthens muscles needed for spinal development.
  • If you do need to keep your baby safe in a container, a head rest, which consists of a soft foam outer core and a central hole, can remove pressure on the back of the head.
  • If skull flattening is severe, a band or helmet may be prescribed when your baby is between 4 and 6 months-old. At this time, your baby experiences rapid brain and skull growth. The band or helmet provides a space or void in the flattened area of the head, which allows the skull to grow into a more symmetrical shape. Treatment generally lasts 4 months or less.
  • Cranial osteopathy, which involves gentle, safe, manipulative movements, can be effective in treating flat head syndrome. Treatment can be started soon after birth or within the first 18 months before the bones of the skull begin to harden and set in place.

What the experts say

In 2008, the term ‘Container syndrome’ was used by health professionals to describe the increased incidence of flat head syndrome and the rise in development and language delays related to the use of bouncers, car seats and other restrainers or containers.

Studies show that babies in the UK and USA spend up to 75% of their waking hours in a container. In less developed countries, more than 90% of time is spent in close physical contact with a care-giver.

A recent publication by the Journal of Pediatrics stated that sitting devices such car seats and bouncers can lead to death if babies are allowed to sleep in them. The study showed that positional suffocation was the cause of death in 46 cases. Of these, 52% were caused by strangulation from the device’s straps. The death of a 3 month-old baby in 2015 in a baby bouncer reminds us of the potential hazards.

The researchers claimed, “It is important to note that an infant in a properly positioned car seat, in a car, with properly attached straps is at little risk from a suffocation injury. However, contrary to popular belief, the restraints and design of infant sitting or carrying devices are not intended for unsupervised sleeping.“
Read more at: http://www.themotherish.com/swing-and-car-seat-dangers/

Staying healthy

To keep your baby’s body and brain healthy, a container should only be used when absolutely necessary. If your baby appears uncomfortable or starts to fuss, then take him or her out and provide close physical comfort.  Alternatively, wear your baby in a sling carrier.

The best way to remove pressure on the back of your baby’s head, and provide opportunities for movement and exploration, is tummy time during waking hours. However, your baby should always be placed on his or her back to sleep.


By Dr. Lin Day: www.babysensory.com

Baby Foundations classes cover everything you need to know about your baby before and after the birth from skull development to tummy time, sensory play, feeding, sleep, equipment and development.

Visit: www.babysensory.com/en/babyfoundations