Container Baby Syndrome: How Equipment Can Hinder a Baby’s Development

We live in a time where most of us are go, go, go and multi-tasking to the max. This is especially true for those of us that are parents.  We have a baby on our hip, while cooking dinner, checking the older kiddo’s homework, making the grocery list and folding laundry….ALL at the same time! Sound familiar? If we only had 6 hands! This is why we often find ourselves putting our babies in positioning devices, or containers, to keep them safely in one place while we complete our daily tasks. Manufacturers have recognized this need and bombarded us with a myriad of options on the market. These include: 

  • Infant carriers such as slings and packs
  • Nursing pillows
  • Infant swings
  • Floor seats, car seats and high chairs
  • Exersaucers, jumpers or walkers

Although these containers in most cases offer a safe solution for positioning, extended time throughout the day in any or multiple of these items may lead to issues currently referred to as “Container Baby Syndrome”.  Time in a container can quickly add up throughout the day if a child rides in a car seat, falls asleep in a swing, sits in a high chair then stands in a baby walker or other such equipment. From the early days of infancy, our babies are hardwired to want to move and explore their environment. They look and touch, kick and reach, roll, sit and crawl.  Their little baby hands want to touch and feel everything. Their little eyes want to closely explore every crack and crevice and crumb or piece of lint on the floor.  These devices by their very nature are meant to block this exploration.   Some issues that may arise from “Container Baby Syndrome” include: 

  • Flat spots on their heads (plagiocephaly)
  • Neck tightness – a preference for looking to only one side of their bodies (torticollis)
  • Delayed gross motor skills  including rolling, sitting, crawling and walking – a baby develops strength and coordination as they wiggle and move against gravity.  Their little baby muscles don’t get their workout when they are placed in a device that holds them in one position.
  • Delayed fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination due to decreased opportunities to reach, grasp and explore objects with their hands.

From one busy mama to another, some ideas for positioning to prevent “Container Baby Syndrome”: 

  • Place baby on the floor,  ideally on their tummy, as often as you can – lay a blanket on the floor right beside you while you are doing your chores. Baby will enjoy watching you do the dishes or fold the laundry. Talk to them and sing to them as you work. 
  • Place them in a seated position in the corner of your couch, while you sit next to them.
  • Place them in a seated position on the floor, with a boppy pillow around their hips to support them.
  • Gate off a safe area that has been baby proofed and offers stable surfaces to climb on, pull to stand at or cruise along
  • If needing to use a container, limit their time in the container to 20 minutes.


An 8-week program for children age 3-6 with sensory processing differences

Children with sensory processing differences have difficulty with regulation, which sometimes makes it difficult for them to interact with the world around them. Our Sensory Explorers group targets regulation in order to build engagement! This group is led by pediatric occupational therapists Mackenzie Baldock (2:30 group) OR Meghan Day (8:30 group) and developmental therapist/PLAY Project Consultant Brenna Thompson, all of whom specialize in using developmentally appropriate strategies to support children so they can learn new skills. Group meets once/week for 60 minutes.

Wondering if this class is appropriate for your child? Some characteristics of kids who benefit: easily frustrated with play, repetitive play, difficulty sitting/keeping still to engage in play, refuses to allow others to engage in play, unable to be messy, overly busy, quickly overwhelmed in a busy environment, picky eater, difficulty tolerating grooming/dressing/diapering routines, struggles with transitions/following a group plan/routine. 

Goals of the group include:

  • Child participating in a variety of sensory play activities
  • Engaging socially with others in the group
  • Providing a non threatening environment where children can experience new sensations with the support of a pediatric Occupational Therapist and PLAY Project consultant
  • Providing personalized resources to caregivers, so they better understand the sensory system and learn strategies to assist their child with regulation outside of group
  • Opportunity to meet with other local families

GROUP MEETS for 8 weeks:  Caregivers must stay on the premises to support their child and learn helpful strategies. Children will separate from caregivers for the session; caregivers can socialize in the lobby (we will also provide a few toys for siblings to play). Caregiver education is a key component of this program. 


OPTIONAL Summary Report available at close of session. This 2 page report will summarize your child’s participation in the class and provide helpful sensory strategies to increase their participation in activities. This report could be given to teachers in classrooms & daycares or utilized to help educate other caregivers about ways to help your child participate. This option includes a 30 minute Zoom meeting with Brenna and MacKenzie/Brenna and Meghan to review the report and discuss your child’s progress in Sensory Explorers. COST: $100 due at sign up