Limiting Time in Rock-n-Play for Babies
From the second your babies are born, their little spines are put under an immense amount of stress. Being born and squeezing through that birth canal is extremely difficult, and the term “labor” is not just reflective of the task taken on by the mother. Their heads, necks and upper thoracic spines are twisted and pulled as some of the first moments of “touch” they experience. ‘Traumatic Birth Syndrome’ is a very common condition that occurs when babies need to be vacuumed, suctioned out or the doctor needed to use the forceps to get them out quickly. That quick movement results in subluxations of the spine. This usually occurs in the cervical spine, which can sometimes lead to torticollis. Torticollis is a condition where one of the muscles on the side of the neck gets strained and then spasms and becomes shorter. This leads to the neck and head being turned and leaning toward the side of the strained muscle. In these cases, is it very important not to have babies lay down for long periods on their back without support. A rolled up receiving blanket or small supportive neck pillow will work.
Encouraging the proper head position is imperative during these first few developmental months. If a baby is dealing with torticollis and spends too much time lying on one side of his or her head, there is a tendency to develop a flatter spot.
Developmental time and exercises are very important for these babies as well. Two common ones are tummy time and baby wearing. Baby wearing is a fantastic alternative to laying your baby in a Rock-n-Play during the day. It’s accommodating to the parent as well. With your hands free, you are still able to get things done around the house or be out and about, without having to hold your baby in a perfectly straight position. Baby wearing also has so many positive benefits for your baby. They feel safe, get skin to skin bonding time, cry less and learn more. Even if your baby has some torticollis, you can position them in a way to stretch the tight side of their neck, thus correcting the head turn/tilt they have, just by wearing them. Tummy time is also great, but would be more beneficial after your baby has good neck control and has been adjusted by a chiropractor to assure proper alignment and less stress.
Lastly, getting your baby adjusted by a chiropractor regularly will really help to stretch those neck muscles out the correct way and encourage proper alignment and development.
Rock-n-plays are not an issue for most babies. Those who do not show any signs of Traumatic Birth Syndrome or torticollis, or a tendency to turn their head one way most of the time, will be completely fine spending time laying flat in a rock-n-play. Make sure to incorporate tummy time and baby wearing at the appropriate times to aid in their development and learning.