Marketing companies are B R I L L I A N T. They have a true gift for making us feel like we are better parents if we buy this product or our baby will be so much happier if we have that gadget! They even have handy little “recommended” ages for each of these products. But, let me be clear about this: these age recommendations are based on safety standards NOT developmental appropriateness. For example, most exersaucers are recommended for ages 4+ likely because babies have adequate head control to be safe in an exersaucer. However, this does not mean that exersaucers are developmentally appropriate for a 4-month old.
My professional recommendation for any type of standing activity/container is around 7 months. Here is a breakdown of developmental readiness for standing and why I recommend that age:
- Baby’s hip joints are underdeveloped and have a very shallow socket. Babies under 6 months of age are very prone to hip dysplasia because of this anatomy. When we put babies in standing prematurely, we put excessive pressure on the hip joint and can increase the risk of his dislocation.
- Before 7 months of age, babies should be focusing on floor time and skills that develop there: rolling, sitting, transitions, etc. These skills require a lot of core activation and coordination. Premature standing can interrupt that natural sequence of skill progression and cause unnecessary frustration during floor time.
- Passive standing (like in an exersaucer) is much easier than active floor skills, like sitting and crawling because in standing your baby can just lock out all of her joints and be stable. Too much standing before sitting and crawling have emerged can create a standing preference, which we want to try and avoid!
But what if you have an exersaucer and don’t want it to go to waste OR you’ve already been using one? My best advice is that if you choose to use an exersaucer for your baby, limit the time in it to 10-15 minutes a day, make sure your baby’s feet are flat and aim for twice as much floor time as standing time! That’s it! No shame or guilt here, ever! It’s my job to provide you with the information. It’s your job to use that information to make the best decision for your family! For more tips on using containers, check out this post!