Photos taken in collaboration with Deborah Quek, featuring one of our ParentWise families

Parents and babies seem to love infant walkers, stationary jumpers, bouncy chairs and many other exciting baby equipment available these days – parents for the baby-tending and entertainment value offered, and babies for being able to scoot or jump in them long before they can crawl or walk.

In fact, many parents believe that such equipment fosters the development of their child’s gross motor skills and accelerates their ability to walk independently.

But is this true?

What it is good for: Baby equipment does provide a safe place to leave your baby should you need to step away for a short while.

What it is not good for: Equipment that requires the baby to sit in it may restrict a developing child's movements and may even delay a baby's walking, crawling and ability to sit without support if used for prolonged periods of time.

If left to their own devices in the "safety" of a walker, a baby might even move themselves to dangerous places such as staircases or the kitchen.

WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY?

Babies learn to walk in part by watching and understanding how one's feet and legs move.

baby gross motor development

Very often, when babies are sitting inside infant equipment such as walkers or jumpers, they are not able to see what is happening to their lower bodies, which serves instead to hinder their motor development.

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ENVIRONMENT OVER EQUIPMENT

Babies should spend most of their waking hours on the floor in the day, where they can move around and practise their motor skills.

Instead of equipment, try these tips instead:

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The best way for babies to develop gross motor skills and build cognitive skills is to give them space to freely move and play – preferably with their parents.

Responsive caregiving is still the best way to develop a baby’s gross motor skills and cannot be replaced by commercial baby equipment. The nurturing and responsive interactions between the caregivers and the baby create opportunities are essential for early learning and development.

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Tags: Child Development /Parent-Child Relationships