AN OSTEOPATH’S THOUGHTS ON BABY PRODUCTS
Patrick Mazeau is an osteopath with more than thirty-eight years of experience in France and the UK. He has been treating pregnant women and babies every day since the ’90s. His area of expertise is plagiocephaly, which is also called flat head syndrome. Patrick lives in Paris, where he has his practice. He is also a passionate dad and grandpa. More about Patrick.
As an osteopath, I first became interested in baby products in 1987 when I began to treat pregnant women and newborns. Since then, I have become very knowledgeable about babies and their physique. A baby’s skeletal development begins during the third month of the fetal period. At birth, a baby weighs about 7 lbs (3.2 kg) and is around 20 in (50 cm) long. Babies grow rapidly in the first three years; in the first five months alone they will double their weight, and after one year they will triple their weight. The skull bones ossify at about the age of two, but the skeleton will continue to develop from infancy until the end of adolescence at around the age of 25. There is no single position that is optimal for helping bones develop. Babies need to be in different positions, and parents need to pay close attention to signals that it is time to alter their baby’s position.
I have treated many babies with flat heads, although the number of cases has been increasing in recent years for a number of reasons. I advise my pregnant patients to apply preventive positions and techniques to minimize flat head deformations and stimulate rotation of the baby’s head, which also prevents torticollis. If there is a problem, preventive measures should be started as early as the first few weeks after birth. I recommend examining babies as early as at three weeks. I often examine and treat babies in their first week of life! This is wonderful and more efficient than examining babies at only six months old! The skull bones are less adaptative then. I can also give more advice to the parents earlier.
I appreciate the fabric that BabyBjörn uses in its products. It is very flexible and airy, and it allows space and movement for the skull bones and the baby’s body in general. This is of particular importance for the head support in both the baby carrier and bouncer since they are used at the age when we see a lot of flat heads.
BabyBjörn Baby Carrier is synonymous with comfort. The baby is seated comfortably: the hips are spread and the spinal column is stable and straight. The baby can rest against mom’s or dad’s body. There is enough space for the baby to turn their head to each side when facing their parent.
During the pregnancy, the fetus is in a close contact with the mother and is aware of temperature, sounds, etc. The baby carrier reproduces this feeling very well, maintaining this contact and reducing stress for the baby during those first weeks after birth. And both parents can provide this security.
When the baby’s neck is strong enough to hold the head straight, the baby carrier must be able to stabilize both the back and the neck and allow the baby to turn his head. Preventing flat heads, a baby carrier must avoid compressing skull bones and alow rotation’s head in each sides. A baby carrier must also allow the baby’s shoulders, arms, hips and legs to move freely. This enables the baby to benefit from different positions and mobility. Depending on their age, the baby’s position can be changed, for example from a prone position to lying on their back, to allow them to see the world around them.
I advise parents to play all the day with their baby and put them from back to the prone position changing contacts and stimulate their psychomotricity for the first year development. My first sons are 34 and 31 years old, and I carried them in BabyBjörn baby carriers. I already appreciated, looking for that, their backs were in a natural and straight natural position when I carried them.
I like the airy structure of the bouncer. The body can both breathe and move thanks to the stretch fabric. The baby bouncer’s design, the soft and airy fabric and its size, provide well-balanced, comfortable support that allows the child to be both mobile and relaxed at the same time. The progressive height adjustment of the seat respects the psychomotor evolution of newborns. The bouncer is comfortable because it both has an aerial structure and is extensible. To me, this means it prevents bad contact with the cranial bones system, thus avoiding flat heads.
The bouncer offers several positions, from horizontal to 45°. Babies should not sit vertically too early, before three months, in order to protect spinal development and not cause any deformities. The bouncer’s secure restraint system keeps the baby safe inside, but the baby can still easily move their legs and arms freely.
My grandson loves rocking in his baby bouncer. It keeps him occupied and happy as he feels his body moving.
Want to know more about ergonomics? Read “A safe choice”.