23 Apr Baby Spas Could Be Hurting Your Baby
Baby Spas has been one of the biggest parenting trends in our era. Babies are more relaxed and carefree when they are in the water, as such, when babies are exhausted from being cute, they can rest and unwind in the little baby pools specially meant for them.
However, experts from the STA and Birthlight, the two of the UK’s major bodies involved in baby swimming teaching, are urging parents to reconsider sending their babies for baby spas due to the potential dangers of using floating neck rings on babies.
In a detailed report released, both STA and Starlight raised alerts about the usage of floating neck ring as it can have on a baby’s physical, neurological and emotional development.
Physical development – strains in the neck and head
Freedman, the author of the research, wrote that when babies, especially those five-months old and younger, hang vertically in the water with their heads supported by a semi-rigid foam structure, their soft and subtle vertebrae in their necks would be subjected to a compression and inevitably strain their ligaments and muscles. Unlike popular beliefs, involuntary kicking in babies does not actually help them to improve their circulatory system. Instead, it puts undue pressure on the neck because the neck ring makes the movement of upper and lower body movements difficult.
Not just the neck, but the spine as well!
The damage seems to go even further than the neck and head. The restriction from the neck ring also has an impact on the optimal development of the spinal curves. Babies are born with a C shape spine, without lumbar or cervical curves. It is integrated movements of their whole bodies that assist the formation of the spinal curvature, which will help them to sit, stand and walk. By maintaining a locked position of the upper back and pectoral muscles involved in early head movements, neck rings artificially create a spinal extension that may weaken rather than strengthen babies’ lower backs in the medium to long term.
Simply put, the neck ring creates an artificial sense of strength for the baby, which does not actually help his body to become stronger, but instead, it weakens it. If a baby often frequents baby spas, there could be a possibility that their first and important milestones such as rolling and sitting would be delayed by the rubber neck rings.
Also, when babies over the age of three months are placed within neck rings, it might interfere with important neural processes that inform the head reflex that assists babies to sit up.
Freedman says, “It takes a disproportionate effort and muscular tension for babies in neck rings to try and right themselves up, which they are naturally driven to do.”
As these experts point out, parents should be making maximum use of water to bond with their children without restriction of movement.
Neck rings not only fail to assist the fundamental evolution of primitive into postural reflexes, they also make babies passive rather than enabling them to physically take advantage of challenges and opportunities while being in water. Freedman writes, “A device that claims total safety and apparent comfort for babies, yet deprives them of a freedom to move which we now know can have long term implications, cannot be promoted for routine use without serious warnings to all parents.”
One of the main benefits of baby swimming in which babies are supported in their parents’ arms is precisely that babies can enjoy freedom of movement in an unbounded space yet within holds that are not static but constantly responding to the fluid properties of water.
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