The 4 Things Every Parent Should Know About Car Seats & Strollers
Disclaimer: This article does not suggest that the use of car seats and strollers should be stopped. Rather, it suggests that parents, health professionals and manufacturers begin to examine the design of many car seats and strollers, based on the following information.
When my first child was an infant, her father and I drove around town with her lying in a cute little padded cradle/basket, completely unrestrained. I don’t think we ever considered the unimaginable consequences of what might happen to her (or ourselves, as we were equally unrestrained), if we were to be in an accident. In defense of our ignorance, let me say that this was legal in 1976, back before seat belts were ever required and before car seats had been developed, tested and made mandatory for children. It’s heartbreaking to consider the tragedies that must have occurred leading up to seat belt and child restraint laws being enacted. Back then, many things were different. People could, and frequently did, smoke cigarettes while standing in line at the bank. Banks even provided ashtrays on top of the metal stands that held the line-forming ropes in place! This is hard to believe today. It’s also hard to believe that, once our baby daughter was old enough to sit up, we moved her up to the front seat with us, where she sat, still unrestrained, in a little “car seat” that hooked over the back of the bench-style front seat.
Today, the importance of using car seats and seat belts goes unquestioned. Even if we could eliminate them, we wouldn’t want to, now that we recognize how important they are to our children’s safety. Unfortunately, though, there is growing evidence that car seats, strollers and other sitting “devices” may play a major role in the growing problem of structural collapse that plagues so many children today.
4 Ways That Strollers & Car Seats Can Cause Problems
1) Babies teach themselves how to sit up by planting their weight on that part of the pelvis (pubis ramus) that puts the “sacral platform” at the correct angle to support the spine. This position allows the spine to align along the vertical axis of gravity (“plumb line) even while supporting a heavy head poised balanced on top. Once a child discovers this position of the pelvis, with the “pubic bone” aiming down and an imaginary tail wagging behind like a “happy dog”, sitting upright is effortless and relaxed.
2) Many car seats and strollers force the child’s pelvis into a backward-tilted position, like a “sad dog” with its tail tucked between its legs. This disrupts the angle of the sacral platform in relation to the spine that sits on top of it, causing the spine to round and collapse.
3) A backward-tilted pelvis causes hip-flexor muscles and other muscles in the front of the torso to shorten, forming habits that are repeatedly reinforced until they become the new “default setting” that governs how those muscles will function. Over time, this shortening in the front of the body becomes so entrenched in a child’s musculature, that it not only defines how the child moves today, but how he or she will age in the years that lie ahead.
4) Structural collapse of an aligned skeleton appears may play a role in contributing to a host of aches and pains and “unexplained” health problems, including learning disabilities and behavior anomalies. The skeleton is the framework of support for all the body’s systems, including circulatory, respiratory, digestive and nervous system functions. How efficiently does a heart pump blood when it is misshapen and compressed within a collapsed chest? How easily are messages transmitted between the brain and all other parts of the body through a spinal cord that is pressed upon by a distorted spine?
An examination of photographs of children just a few generations ago, compared to ones of children today, tells a shocking story. We need only match these images with the alarming rise of a long list of growing problems related to children’s health to begin to ask questions that have, until now, gone unasked. There is no doubt that other factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise, exposure to certain types of media and technology, all play a role in contributing to the growing health crisis facing children. Our perceptions about inhabiting the body have gradually adapted until we’ve lost sight of being able to recognize how much our children have veered away from the aligned “center” where every one of us starts out as a baby and toddler. Only now are we beginning to understand the seriousness of this problem and how it not only can affect a children’s health today, but how they will age in the years ahead.
Fortunately, once parents are informed, there are things they can do to adapt car seats and other sitting devices to protect the integrity of their children’s spines. Furthermore, parents can discuss this issue with each other, with their child’s pediatrician, as well as contacting car seat manufacturers to help educate everyone about this problem.
Instilling healthy postural habits in your child begins at a very early age. Ironically, the consequences of how your child sits while being protected from possible accidents, may affect your child’s health far into the future.