Unfortunately, convenience and optimal wellness do not always go hand in hand. This is certainly the case with infant car seats, and it's not something that most busy parents take the time to consider. Below is a letter I received from my friend and fellow mom, Gitta Sivander, after posting my New Baby Checklist.
Thanks Gitta for this important info!
I loved reading through your baby check list, I like to add one comment on your car seat option. Since you are offering alternatives and are critical in your choices with most other things for babies, I like to bring to you and your readers' attention that regular [infant] car seats, where baby lies in a cocooned, rounded, or flexed shape are poison for the babies' development. Those car seats are well designed for being protective in the car, but are counter-supportive of a child's development, especially when too much time is spent in them.
Lay baby flat as much as possible
Below is the rest of the note I received from Gitta. It explains why baby needs to lay flat as much as possible – rather than hang out in a car seat or a sling, which flexes the body:
Baby's vestibular system [which controls the balance and equilibrium] develops from lying flat in the first months.
Growing capillaries in the brain need the proper amount of blood supply to develop well. The most of amount of blood will come to the brain when baby lies flat, meaning on tummy, back or side. The more upright, the less blood supply there will be to the brain, and the less the capillaries will develop, thus setting up baby for less blood supply to the brain through his/her entire life.
Baby has more variety and support for [learning to move] independently: when in a flat position, there are many options for how to lie: on back, belly, right or left side. Also, baby can start to roll and choose positions herself versus being trapped in a rounded shape.
Car seats should be used in cars only, and not taken out [to be used as a carrier, as an attachment on a stroller, or as a place for baby to nap].
Leave the car seat in the car and transfer the baby to a baby basinet [or flat lying stroller] when not in the car.
The best option, if possible, is to avoid using a car seat as much as possible for the first few months.
The first year and your baby's development
Gitta Sivander is a Developmental Movement Specialist with extensive training in a wide variety modalities from physical therapy, yoga, and fitness, to mind-body therapies for babies, children, and adults.
In our modern, busy lives we tend to opt for convenience and speed, often skipping steps in order to get to our final goals.
Development movement specialists believe that the first years of life are crucial to the proper development of both the baby's body and brain.
Babies should not be made to sit before they can sit on their own, nor allowed to walk before they can crawl. By taking time to allow and encourage your baby to unfold petal by petal, you ensure that no steps are missed to optimize your baby's physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Have any tips on infant car seat safety? Please share them in the comments below.