Yes, container baby syndrome is a thing. It is caused by putting the baby in a container or holder such as a baby carrier, stroller, swing or cradle for too long. Of course, these baby containers can be convenient for moms who would use them to get work done or to get a break from holding them all day, but putting them in the container for long periods of time can affect their movement, behaviour and cause developmental problems in babies.
Here are a few ways in which your baby can be affected by container baby syndrome:
1. Flat Head Syndrome/Plagiocephaly
A baby’s head is really soft during the first year of life because their brain is still growing at this stage. The shape of the skull will take form only after the brain is fully developed but during the time that the head remains soft, it is susceptible to flat head syndrome or plagiocephaly. Leaving a baby in a baby container such as a cradle or swing can inhibit his neck movements and the pressure against the baby’s head can cause the flat head syndrome. A solution for this would be to use a baby helmet that will protect the baby’s head even when they are placed in the container.
Babies learn to coordinate their body by being out and about. If their movement is limited, then they would not be able to learn how to coordinate their body. When they are allowed to move around, they may try to roll over or to hold small things in their hands. They would also be able to work on their hand-eye coordination.
3. Weak Muscle
Baby containers are designed to support the developing baby’s neck muscles as they are not yet capable of holding their head up. But leaving them in such containers for too long can restrict their muscle development. Thus their muscles would be weaker than other babies who were not kept in baby containers for an extended period of time.
4. Speech Development
When babies are in baby containers rather than in baby slings or carriers that are wrapped around the parent’s body, they wouldn’t get as much verbal stimulation as they would if they were being carried. Although it is alright to leave the baby in the baby container while you do certain things like lift heavy items, cook/do anything that involves heat or does the laundry, it is better to hold the baby or at least wrap them around you in a sling whenever possible.
Babies need all the nutrition they can get during their first year of life and that can only be provided through breast milk, formula and later on, from solid food. But all that eating and no play can make your baby obese. You should allow them to be outside the container so they can move around as this is the only way they can burn calories. If you leave them in a container, it may not make them fat, but it can lead to them developing poor lifestyle habits later in life. Allowing them to play (in a safe zone, such as a soft mat on the floor under your supervision) will enable them to enjoy moving around and thus help develop a better lifestyle growing up.