Many mums that we speak with are using Jolly Jumpers and Walkers on a regular basis. Baby laughs and squeals as she bounces around, mum gets a few quiet minutes to quickly get dinner ready, washing on and a number of other household chores completed. A perfect match, right? Unfortunately, the answer is NO. While these devices have been popular as both a convenient way to entertain baby as well as for the (incorrect) belief that they helped her to reach her milestones more quickly, we’re here to shed light on the situation… physio style!
3 ways your Jolly Jumper and Walker are delaying your baby from reaching her milestones
- Jumpers and Walkers encourage unusual movement patterns in the Trunk
Both Jumpers and Walkers support your baby’s weight around the hips, crotch and under the arms. This pushes her weight distribution forward rather than the preferred upright position that is more similar to the posture used when standing and walking. The device also delays the strength and development of your baby’s core muscles as it gives external support around her trunk.
- Jumpers and Walkers encourage unusual movement patterns in the Legs
Jumpers and Walkers teach babies to stand up and push off of their their tippy-toes and regular use can encourage pointed toes. This learned movement is counterproductive to the heel-strike action required in independent standing and walking and therefore can delay the development of your baby reaching these milestones.
- Walkers reduce visual feedback important for coordination and gross motor development
Babies learn to walk by in part watching how their feet and legs move. Many walkers have a tray that prevents your baby from seeing her legs and feet. This restriction to the amount of visual feedback she is receiving about her motor control can delay development in independent standing and walking.
How to help your baby reach her milestones
Sometimes less is more. The best thing you can do to help your baby’s development is to let her spend a lot of time on the floor where she will explore by rolling, sitting and crawling as her strength and coordination improve. When she is strong enough, she will start to pull herself up in to standing hanging on to furniture (make sure it is secured) and take some steps holding on to it or her parent’s hands.
What safer options do we recommend?
If you really want to spoil your little cherub, here are 3 options that are safe for your baby’s development.
1. Rocker Chair (aka Baby Swing) – Keep in mind that is important your baby spends the majority of her awake time on the floor (on her back and tummy). However, if she gets the grizzles and you need your hands free, a rocker chair can be great to quieten her down BUT in small doses and during awake time only.
- Activity Table – A sturdy Activity Table can encourage your baby to pull herself up in to standing. The colours and toys on the table can distract her to stand for longer periods of time building strength in her legs and core.
- Push Trolley – Once baby is getting confident and starting to take a few steps, hanging on to a trolley and pushing it around can help her to develop her walking. Always making sure she is closely supervised.