As a new parent we are a HUGE MARKETING TARGET. Don't be fooled.
When I was expecting my daughter, as a first time mother, I was shopping around to make sure I'll purchased everything we and she will need. In the meanwhile I was also starting to read books and watch documentaries about "Free Gross Motor skills development" ("Motricité libre" in French), "Montessori", "Pikler Theory"... Soon it was clear to me that not only some product I saw everywhere on social media and my searches were pure marketing products but they can also arm my baby's natural motor skill development or even her body.
Here is a (non exhaustive) list of products that you don't need and are not good for your baby if you want to follow his own motor's development rhythm:
Baby play gym or play mat with arch:
I did the mistake myself and got one of them. But soon I realised that it was not helping my little Rose. Why?
- The arch is displaying the toy at the top of baby's head. So it will not encourage baby to turn on his side, instead, she/he will stay static and look only in one direction
- The edges will also stop the baby to be able to look at his surrounding and discover his environment
- The texture of the mat is slippery and will not allow baby to push on his feet to be able to find the way to turn and return
You would prefer a play mat without edge and place toys straight on the floor so baby will be intrigued and with the time will try to reach them.
Those mats are also more sustainable as baby will grow with them and they can be use outside to be use as play ground.
Baby sit me up or sitting support:
These products are an aberration. If you are interested in Pikler's Theory or Free motor skill development, you'll know that one of the first principle is to not put baby in a position he can not get in by himself. Why? Because, first of all his bones and muscles are not ready. Forcing your little one into a position not acquired yet might damage his body.
Plus, if you seat up your baby. He/She starts discovering the world from a new perspective. And we can easily imagine that sitting up is funnier than lying down. So baby will "ask" you to seat him up and as you'll do it for him, he will not try by himself. Using this type of item is a risk of slowing him down in his development.
"Baby walkers don't help babies learn to walk. They may actually hold up how long it takes for them to learn. [...] Baby walkers allow a child to reach higher than normal. This means they could grab dangerous objects like kettles and medicines. Their risk of burns, scalds and poisoning increases." Source: HSE.ie
You can also read this article from Harvard Health Publishing
Bounce & play baby door or Activities seat:
We live in such a competitive world that there is a lot of pressure put onto our shoulder about our kid development and timing. How many times will you hear: Is she/he walking yet? Not even standing up? How many teeth? Does she/he sleep the full night?...
I sometime wonder if people are not expecting babies to come out of the womb on their feet. So, no wonder why as a parent we can be tempted by one of those products marketed for us to think they will be helpful for our little one. But the truth is, to develop well, baby needs love, encouragement and to "be left alone". Baby needs to be respected and encouraged to do thing on his own rhythm.
So, this kind of product should not be used as mentioned earlier because they do not respect baby's development. When he/she is bouncing and laughing in his seat, he is not developing floor mobility like seating up, crawling... Those stage are important because it helps them to develop and strengthen their muscle, the awareness of their surrounding and their confidence. Also, because there is no real back support. Spending too much time in this kind of item can put too much pressure on their pelvis and spine and an excessive strain on their back.
Here we go again. Another product that can seem legit, even more when you see your little one in pain and you would give everything to help.
Those mitten have a silicone part at the end of the hand and the promise is to relieve baby's pain as he/she can chew on them. The pressure on the gum help with the pain and baby is not chewing (and so damaging) his hands.
Well, that's one of the issue: Baby needs to chew his hand, it is part of his early age development. Your baby discovers the world with his hands and between the age of 3 and 6 months, should manage to grip little object. By obstructing his hands, you'll slow down his natural development. There are a range of toys designed for teething and help baby learning to catch and old.
I found this silicon little monkey in our local supermarket and it was love at first sight for my baby. She soon managed to grab and manipulate it and loved chewing on it.
You can prefer "Sophie la Girafe", this is a classic. Easy to grab and soft on the gum. Little extra, baby will love the squeezy noise she makes.
There are a lot of different alternatives. Maybe you can have few of them, so when baby is bored with one, you can offer him to play with another one. Just be careful to buy products that are conform to EU regulations as your baby will put it in the mouth, you don't want him/her to ingest plastic particles.
This idea is to go for something easy for them to hold
with their tiny little hands.
Just to be clear ; ) There is absolutely no sponsorship in this article. I am not a doctor or even a childcare professional. I am just a new mum trying her best and who sometimes feels overwhelmed by the amount of products available on the market. I am just sharing my opinion with you. Thank you for reading and feel free to comment on the article.