This is the second post in my overparenting series. You can find the first post here.
Our society loves containers. Baskets, shelves, tubs, bins, buckets. Our country spends millions of dollars each year buying containers to keep our stuff in.
Nowadays, we even have containers to keep our babies in. In an attempt to keep our babies safe, we strap them into containers. Really, the options are endless…
Of course, there are the classics.
There are new containers making their debut all the time. As I was finding pictures of these contraptions I thought to myself, It seems like someone is just sitting in an office trying to come up with ideas for new containers to keep babies in. Then I realized that this is exactly what is happening. And they are getting rich on the American public’s incessant need for “safety” and the newest container’s promises.
I understand the need for some of these containers. Yes, we put Claire in a carseat. Yes, she slept in a crib when she was tiny, and yes, we owned a swing and bouncy seat. These containers serve a purpose to an extent. Some of them are necessary for safety reasons. Others are necessary at times for Mommy’s sanity. But I think these containers are used way more than they should be. A baby can’t explore his world in a container. He can’t learn how his arms and legs work or understand how the carpet feels or figure out how to twist and squirm when he’s always strapped into a bucket of some type. Babies need to be free – out of containers – to learn and gain curiosity, and to begin to put the world into place.This is how Claire and I spent my maternity leave. On this blanket – in the living room – on the floor. It wasn’t particularly exciting. Really, at times it was quite dull. But here’s what was happening in her little body:
Claire’s neural networks were stimulated to make new connections and grow in complexity. These are the networks that drive motor coordination and physical balance. This time out of a container also helped strengthen Claire’s neck muscles as well as helping her limb coordination. These developments pave the way for crawling, and then walking, running, and many other developmental milestones. (Source: Active For Life)
Here’s another great article about the benefits of container-free time.
Isn’t it amazing that throughout history, hundreds of thousands (more than that maybe??) of babies survived their first years without ANY of these containers? They slept snuggled up in their parents’ bed, laid on a blanket on the floor, and probably spent some time rolling around in the dirt. And they made it. Without baby proofing. Without a Bumbo. Without a 5 Star Safety Rating. Keeping our babies safe is important, but it’s not the only thing. Babies need time to stretch, squirm, and explore. Set the babies free!