Classes & Groups

Buy This…Not That: Infant “Chairs”

Buy This: Bean Bag! For positioning infants who are NOT rolling yet! Here’s why:

Our babies are born with the innate desire to be upright, mostly driven by vision. However, for the first several months they do not have the postural control to hold themselves up against gravity. All the work they do on the floor, being carried, transitioned from position to position, getting diapered and clothed provide opportunities for their bodies to respond and react and, eventually, to anticipate and initiate. These daily activities provide the foundation for postural control and eventually independent sitting, standing, and walking.

Despite not having control, sometimes babies want to be upright out of DESIRE to see more or NECESSITY to digest the latest meal without spitting it all back up. And though we love to cuddle with our babies, we can’t always be there to hold them in supported positions. We have to do laundry, make meals, SLEEP, take showers, make phone calls, answer emails, etc. We then have three options: put them on the floor on tummy or back, wear them, or put them in some sort of container. Though the floor is a position of choice and one that we advocate to try first, it does not resolve the issues stated above.

The market has attempted to answer this call with myriad products: swings, infant seats, bouncers, walkers, standers, jumpers! All are designed to position your infant in a place that he can’t get to by himself, often relying on postural control that is not there yet. We’ve all seen the infant in their seats, sliding down to the base, falling down to the side, held up only by small straps that protect them from falling out, but doing NOTHING to help align the baby and protect his body and joints while in the seat.

Enter Bean Bag: thought of as a suitable chair for toddlers, preschoolers and up, but rarely considered for an infant, especially a young, 0-4 month baby who is not yet rolling. Just make sure baby is awake and being watched closely.
-Bean bags are portable: they can be carried in a single hand and squeezed through narrow places. They don’t have metal legs or corners that slam into your leg or twist your wrist as they are transported place to place. They can be placed in front of a large mirror, right next to your chair by your computer, in front of the bath tub as you bath your other children, or in a “circle time” reading group with siblings before bed.
-Bean bags are moldable: you can manipulate them to precisely fit your baby in order to support whatever position you want. You can change the angle your baby sits in, tilt the baby slightly left or right to keep pressure off the back of the head or to help aid digestion (RIGHT side). You can even mold them to hold a book!
-Large bean bags are secure for a baby who is not yet rolling: Once baby is positioned and supported, you can push up the sides, top and bottom to create a barrier.
– Bean bags with a blanket (especially ones with waterproof backing) laid over the top are EASY to clean after the inevitable leaky diaper or spit up. No wrestling to get covers off frames that then leaves your seat useless until the laundry is done. Just throw first one in hamper and place another blanket down!
-Finally, bean bags are far less expensive than most infant seats and other containers and are functional pieces of “furniture” for your entire family! They grow with your child

Bean bags are an ideal answer when your pre-rolling infant needs to be in a more upright position compared to the floor. However, bean bags are not a surface that encourages a lot of body movement. Because the head and body are supported well, this is a good place to work on eye gaze and visual tracking as well as reaching with arms/hands. Note of caution: Once baby is rolling and trying to sit up, they can fall off of bean bag unless they are secured down with a strap and buckle. Watch for a future post about sitting options for infants who are moving more but not yet sitting independently.


In the meantime, we would love some feedback or stories about how you use bean bags in your family!

“Not That: An Infant Chair to Avoid.”

Most infant chairs out there are okay to use in small doses with your pre-sitting baby, especially if you use towel rolls or a Snuggin’ Go  to help align your baby. Remember, though, straps in chairs are for safety only, they do not help align your baby properly. Most infant chairs are okay because they provide full support of the back and head in a reclined position.

However, there is one chair that we do not recommend: the Bumbo. This chair is designed to have your baby sit upright before she has the capacity to do so, and there is minimal if any capacity to modify it enough to provide good alignment because it does not support the entire back or head. A baby often sits with a rounded back, and leans on the sides, relying on the chair to hold her up. Undo stress and strain are placed on joints and muscles are unable to accommodate because they are not developed enough.

Parents often believe this chair is okay because it simulates the position of upright sitting parents often facilitate by placing their hands on baby’s trunk. However, the crucial difference is that your hands are directly on your baby, providing dynamic support that responds to your baby’s needs to stay in the middle. The Bumbo is a static plastic chair that does not move, respond or accommodate. It allows your baby to lean into a surface to remain upright, which in addition to placing stress on joints teaches them through practice how to be upright without turning on core muscles. We want our babies to spend this precious, short amount of pre-sitting time developing foundations for movement, not compensation strategies that can affect development of more advanced motor skills.


So, we therefore recommend that you save your money with this product. For other strategies to help teach your baby to sit independently, see our recent blog, Independent Sitting: How to Get There.



Buy This…Not That: Books

Books are a wonderful gift! This post will focus on babies up to 12 months but my 3 year old still enjoys many of these – at a different level.

By 6 months, vision is developed enough for baby to recognize some images and to begin understanding that pictures represent objects. Baby starts to prefer certain pictures, pages, or even entire stories read over and over! While you read, your baby will respond by grabbing for the book and vocalizing. By 12 months, your child will start to help turn pages, pat or start to point to objects on a page, and repeat your sounds.

Buy This: for this age, look for board books that are sturdy, that can be propped, and small enough for baby to try and hold – and taste! Babies love books with photos of babies, bright colors, textures, flaps and familiar objects. Also look for simple content with language that is short and repetitious.

Some Favorite Books in Our Home: Baby Faces, Colors, Giggle Baby, Peek-a-Who. Some Favorite Authors: Karen Katz (Where is Baby’s Bellybutton?), Sandra Boyton, and Eric Carle. A small plastic photo book with familiar faces is another great idea!

What are your family’s favorite books/authors?


Yesterday we covered “Buy This: What to look for in Books for Babies.” Today is “Not That: Things to Avoid in Books for Babies.”

Avoid books that are too wordy. You can always reword some parts, skip parts, etc. but remember you will be reading some of these books A LOT! The book on the left shows a great starter book – one color and one picture. The book on the right introduces many images, some of which baby may not even know (eggplant, beet).

Avoid books with fragile pop ups and paper pages. Choosing durable books in the early years will allow your child to explore the book, attempt to turn pages without the risk of tearing/ripping.

Avoid books that are too long. Attention span can be quite fleeting when babies start to move since that becomes quite a focus. Be okay with reading only a page or two!

Avoid the same type of book: Provide a variety, limit books that are too repetitive and look for those that rhyme! Babies seem to love those!


Here are some great Do’s and Don’ts when reading with your baby. It is so important to remember that it isn’t always about the content but about the actual act of reading. Speed up, slow down, point at pictures, make different sounds, etc. Realize that you won’t always finish every book, that your baby may lose interest. Have books throughout your home, in your car, diaper bag, etc. as an easy tool for distraction. Take the time to snuggle your little one and read the book through the eyes and heart of your child!

And to complete our “books” topic, check out this link called “Love Books!” It is a collection of many different blog posts of book reviews and corresponding activities! How cool is that — especially for our older kiddos! Can’t wait to check some of them out!
Happy Reading!

Buy This….Not That: Tummy Time

This December will be dedicated to offering ideas on the great and not-so-great gifts for infants birth to 12 months! Check back often!

We start with my favorite find for our 3rd child, wishing of course we had found it for #s 1 and 2! It’s the Lily Pad playmat by Nook. It is portable, washable and is PERFECT for tummy time! The cushion is made of breathable air cells, so there is always good air flow around your baby’s precious nose and mouth no matter what his head position. It is firm enough for baby to push into and work to pick his head up, YET cushy enough to soften the inevitable head bob face plant, even when placed directly on hardwood floor!

Enjoy this find and Happy Tummy Time!






Just as there are products out there that truly help our babies discover new ways to move, become aware of what their bodies can do, and encourage active development of pathways to increase the body-brain connection, there are also products that do all this hard work for them.

Product manufacturers create new items every year that make the hard work of developing seemingly easier and more fun, but often with unintended consequences. We don’t want our babies to be passive participants in the hard work of creating foundations for their own independence.

The Wingbo, pictured here, is an example of a product that seems to solve the problem of tummy time blues. However, the swing carriage is plastic and is the same every time you put your baby in it, offering no variety, the very hallmark of movement and movement development. Though it adds the element of whole body movement through space that your baby otherwise would not get, it does not encourage absolutely essential components of being on the tummy, which are:
1) getting active elongation/stretching of the hip flexors (hips are encouraged to be flexed),
2) active connection of the upper body and lower body through lateral weight shifting (upper body is wedged in a hard plastic container inhibiting active abdominal contraction), and
3) free exploration of movement on all planes of motion: front/back, side to side, and rotation (movement from legs and swing is primarily frontal).

All of these essential items are accomplished by simply placing baby down on a play mat surface, holding baby across your chest or lap on their tummy, or carrying them in a tummy down position.

So, please consider saving your money with this product and opt for a great playmat where your baby can do her own independent exploration of movement. If you have this product, no need to stop using it, but please have your baby enjoy it in small doses!432193_537511226260461_9834930_n

The content on this website is based on Wendi’s personal and professional experience and general research. It is not meant for individual medical diagnosis or treatment. If you are concerned about your child, please consult with your primary physician and/or therapist.