There are a huge number of prams, pushchairs and car seats on the market with different ‘bells and whistles.’ When tackling public transport in London, many parents go for the more compact designs, which means that their baby sits in a ‘compressed flexed position’ instead of lying flat. I totally understand this choice when negotiating stairs, tubes and buses with a baby in tow, but what does this mean for your baby’s health?
While the compact designs are appealing, they can cause:
- Abdomen compression – squashing their tummy which may affect digestion, contributing to bowel and wind issues
- Reduced space for lung expansion – making it harder to breath
- Unnecessary stress on their developing neck muscles
- Affects on the relevant nerves
By contrast, lying your newborn flat on their back:
- Opens up the abdomen which increases the space available for their lungs to expand
- Alleviates the pressure on their intestines
- Reduces neck strain
- Helps keep the spine aligned.
Your baby’s neck
Although it’s good to encourage neck development, this is best done during monitored tummy time. This is because your baby will only have a short duration of neck strength before letting their head drop forward unsupported as the muscles get tired. When your baby can hold their head up unsupported (at around four months old), you can consider a more upright pram and car seat.
Your baby’s tummy
The small intestines are like a hosepipe. They zig zag across the stomach then turn into the large intestine which travels up the right side along the top of the stomach, before descending on the left side to the rectum. That’s quite a long journey and plenty of opportunity for restrictions (similar to kinks in a hosepipe) which can affect the flow and action of the bowel. This is why the slumped position a newborn is often placed in when sitting in an upright position in some car seats and prams is not ideal.
Upright Vs lying flat
The NHS and the Royal society of the prevention of accidents recommend that a newborn in an upright car seat does not remain in this position for any longer than two hours before having a 15-minute break. They also provide some research comparing an upright car seat to lying flat in a cot. This revealed that 30 minutes in the upright car seat:
- Increased breathing rate
- Increased heart rate
- Lowered blood oxygen levels
You may also like to consider a pram where your baby faces you. Why?
- Reduce the fumes you directly drive your child towards
- Encourage parent-baby bonding as the baby lies flat on its back looking up at you
- Encourages you to talk to your baby, again increasing bonding and development.
There are some great developments on the market in baby car seats, such as the:-
- Kiddy Evoluna iSize
- Cybex Butterfly Mios 3in1 travel system
- Jane Matrix Light
It’s difficult for newborns to express how they feel, hence why they cry. As a parent you may recognise what the cry means but from time to time parents consult chiropractors for help when they just can’t seem to settle their baby. At KH Chiropractic we asses babies to see if there are any mechanical issues (areas of tightness in the body) which may be contributing to the baby’s symptoms. If you would like to find out more or book your baby in please call us on 0203 633 0565 or email our chiropractor Karen (firstname.lastname@example.org).