Ajda was once again joined by Janja from Pedosana, centre for the motor development of babies and children. This time, they talked about the first equipment and accessories that we really need when expecting a baby. In the flood of advertising, it is often difficult to assess what a baby really needs. Ajda and Janja covered the topics baby nests, sleeping bags, prams, carriers, car seats, high chairs and resting places, and commented on what is and isn't essential.
Which piece of equipment does Pedosana consider essential when a baby arrives?
The first two essentials that Janja recommends are a pushchair and a good quality (non-slip) floor mat. These are the two main pieces of equipment that will really get a lot of use, so it makes sense to invest in them.
How should a baby sleep - in their own bed, in a nest or between the parents?
There is no right answer to this question - it's important for parents or mums to do what works for them. The fact is that, especially in the first few months, it is nice for a baby to be surrounded by something and to smell their mother. A comforter can be a great accessory here to remind them of the smell, tenderness and warmth of their mum. Before giving it to the baby, the mother should put it on her chest under her shirt for about two hours to absorb her smell. No matter if we do or don't have a baby nest, it is a good idea to cover the baby well with a blanket, so that they are covered on all sides and also have their arms close to the body.
Is swaddling good for the baby?
From a motor development point of view, a baby needs to be able to move around. On the one hand, they like to be swaddled from the start - either in a tetra nappy or covered only by a blanket, because being wrapped in a ball makes them feel safe and at home. That's why they also like to be in the arms, snuggled up to their mother. On the other hand, if the baby is wrapped in a fixed position and cannot move, it can also wake them up.
While it is advisable to lay the baby on their side when sleeping, it is normal for the baby to move and turn over, e.g. on their back, during sleep. In this case, we let them sleep in this position and do not roll them back on the side.
Sleeping bag - yes or no?
If parents notice that their baby is waking up a lot, they may try introducing a sleep bag. This may be because they are kicking the blanket off and are therefore feeling cold. But with a sleeping bag, they are covered in the same way all the time and have a feeling of security as they are snugly surrounded on all sides. Many babies like this and sleep better as a result.
What about baby slings, are they recommended or discouraged by the professionals?
Experts in the field of motor development are not very enthusiastic about slings. This is due to the forced posture the baby is in when in the sling. As long as the baby is not yet sitting up on their own and is not able to align their body well, the use of a sling is not recommended. The forced upright position (because the mother is standing upright) can lead to a curvature of the torso to the left or right, with the head facing one way most of the time. It is much better for the baby to spend as much time as possible on a horizontal surface, preferably on a cushion on the floor.
What do we need to look out for when buying a trolley?
There are many trolleys on the market and each has its own characteristics. Janja advises to choose one with a 90-degree angle between the pelvis and the knees on the sports part of the pushchair. Regardless of the angle of the sports part, this angle should remain the same.
When is it appropriate to change the basket on the pushchair for the sports part?
The optimal time to change from a basket to a sports part is when the baby is able to straighten their body, control their body, pivot well and stand on all fours (around 6+ months). If the basket is changed earlier, the baby may crawl to the left or right because of the too high inclination and this has a bad effect on the development of the spine. In the sports part of the pushchair, the baby can no longer turn around, cannot lie on its side or on its stomach. Therefore, the baby should be in the basket for as long as possible, as this is much better for the baby's motor development.
But when do we start putting the baby upright in the sports part? Only when they are already sitting up on their own and can hold on to the safety bar in front of them while balancing. So when they are no longer just leaning back and passive, but already catching their balance. Until then, the sports part should be in a semi-recumbent position with the pelvis supported. If the pushchair does not have a 90 degree angle between the back and the thigh, parents should place a thick roll of tetra nappies under the baby's knees to get this angle.
What about car seats - is it enough to choose them according to safety tests?
It is right for parents to first look at the safety tests and then buy a car seat on that basis. But there are other important safety considerations, such as the correct position of the child, appropriate clothing (not too thick layers), the position of the seat belt. If the child is overdressed, there can be up to 1 cm of space between the child's body and the seat belt, which is huge! This can lead to serious consequences in the event of a collision, as the belt is not fastened tightly against the child. Secondly, the seat belt should run from the top of the shoulder ring and not lower. If the child is overdressed, the belt may slip lower on the shoulder area, which can again cause serious injuries to the child in the event of a crash. And thirdly, the highchair must be well supported with removable support cushions for the torso and pelvis. As the child grows, these cushions are then removed.
If the baby is not properly supported in the shell or car seat, he or she will be hunched over, which can have a very bad effect on their breathing. This is because forward head slipping prevents a good flow of oxygen to the brain. Therefore, a maximum of one and a half hours of riding in one piece is recommended, after which it is necessary to pause, rest the child on a flat surface for 15 minutes and then resume the journey.
And finally, a tip on the right baby highchair for feeding
When introducing thick foods, Janja advises parents to sit their baby on their lap to start with. The main thing we try to teach the baby throughout the introduction is table manners, i.e. to sit (and not run around or lie down) while feeding. The lap position and later, e.g. the tripp trapp chair, allow the baby to move well naturally in a sitting position (balancing, correcting the position with the help of the legs). The tripp trapp is suitable for this because it has only two shelves, which can be moved if necessary as the baby grows. From this point of view, the tripp trapp is a good long-term investment.
Highly padded chairs where babies are too fixed and passive are discouraged, as are chairs where there is no footrest, so that their legs dangle in the air. Feeding in a resting position is also not recommended because of the semi-recumbent position.
Moderation should be the guiding principle
Interestingly, a baby really doesn't need much at birth. Before buying all sorts of gadgets, it is wise to consider whether we will really need them. But here, as with all things, it is good common sense and the principle of moderation - it is not good to overdo anything. So the best way to help your child's motor development is to buy a good quality floor mat and put them on it as much as possible. Janja told us why this is a good thing in one of the previous blog-posts, when we talked about babies' motor development.