Category Archives: Products for Baby

Cute! But Functional? Clothing Baby for Optimal Development

I know. Baby clothes? Can be so cute.

But even clothes-picking needs our awareness! Here are some tips as you purchase or receive baby outfits. Overall, be on the lookout for clothes that allow freedom of movement.

The following can be restrictive. Choose wisely when Baby wears them.

  • Hoods: can get caught or be in the way when Baby is learning to roll. They also create a bump when Baby is lying on the hood (can affect comfort and alignment). When on, hoods generally don’t turn with the head–the head turns inside them (can restrict vision and accurate perception of environment).
  • Long dresses: For the belly-crawlers and hands-and-knees-crawlers, watch for Baby’s knees! Crawling knees can get caught inside a long dress, so Baby ends up trying to crawl inside the dress—one can’t get very far this way!
  • Jeans, thick corduroys, or other “hard” fabrics: can make bending more difficult (at waist, hips, and knees) for crawling, sitting, and kneeling (“sitting on heels” is super important!).
  • One-piece long pants outfits and footie pajamas: can be fine, and super cute, just watch for attempts to crawl inside the outfit.
  • The big toe is a key to belly crawling and ankle integration!

    Footed bottoms: Having feet covered can be like wearing gloves. Go for bare feet as much as possible during playtime, for the sake of nerve-ending development and traction. Also, feet are another way babies touch, measure, and explore their world.

  • Big diapers can hinder healthy development as well. See my previous post for more info.

For playtime, go with clothes Baby can get (a little, or a lot) dirty in! Explore all kinds of surfaces together, for each offers a slightly different and informative experience: carpet, hardwood, linoleum, and out of doors.

And while you’re at it—are your clothes restricting your freedom of movement?

Eliza Parker is a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator®, Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner, Feldenkrais® Practitioner, and Spiritual Counselor. She also uses Aletha Solter’s Aware Parenting

© Eliza Parker 2012, All Rights Reserved (Links are welcome. If you’d like to share my post in your blog or materials, please ask permission.)


Cloth AND Disposable! How Diapers Can Affect Your Baby’s Development

Diapers are a part of everyday life with a baby. Cloth and disposable each offer advantages and disadvantages. For optimal motor development, there are some Diapers three-babys-in-diapersimportant considerations that tend to affect cloth-wearers more, but can also affect disposable-wearers. Note, this article address typical development and babies not experiencing hip dysplasia.

The Effects of Big Diapers

When you’re shopping for cloth or disposable options, take into account the size of the diaper when worn. Some diapers can be big, spreading Baby’s legs wide and limiting movement in the lower spine.

For healthy movement development, Baby needs to be able to:

BB2 blue

Being able to curl into a ball shape (“flexion”) is very important for development of movement, muscle tone, coordination, and nervous system regulation

  • Curl into a C-shape, called “flexion” (important for milestone development, digestion, and the nervous system’s ability to balance stimulation with recuperation)
  • Bring each leg into alignment with her hip joints and spine in belly crawling so that the push of her foot will travel well through her body to carry her forward
  • Bring her knees under her hip joints in hands-and-knees crawling, and into optimal alignment for kneeling and walking.

The relationship of the legs, hip joints, pelvis, and spine supports a healthy back for life. Diaper-induced wideness can skew alignment, cause compensations, and lead to W-sitting (See “W-Sitting Revisited” by pediatric physical therapists).


Don’t listen to me—listen to your body! For fun, get down on the floor and experiment so you know for yourself.

  1. Crawl on your hands and knees comfortably. Notice where your knees land and how much distance is between them.
  2. Then spread your knees wider, as if you were wearing a diaper that didn’t allow your knees to come close together, and crawl like so.
  3. Experiment with the placement of your knees and feel the difference it makes in your lower back, side muscles, jaw, mindstate, and other parts of yourself.

Watch Your Baby Crawl

The next time you see your baby crawl, notice where her knees land. Optimally, the knees will come through under the hip joints. Diapers can make a baby’s knees spread wider than the hip joints while crawling, which can have an unhappy affect on the lower back, whether it shows up now or in 40 years. Wide knees are also less stable in movement because they don’t allow force to travel efficiently in the most direct route through the bones and joints. Wide diapers and widespread knees can also encourage W-sitting. Even if your baby is not yet crawling, spend some time watching how your baby’s legs relate to each other.

What to Look For in Diapers

This doesn’t mean ditch diapers altogether! It’s about making informed choices.

  • Lie your baby on her back. Without a diaper on, gently bend her knees and bring them toward each other. (Do not do this with a newborn or if there’s concern about hip dysplasia) How close together do her knees move easily? Then put a diaper on and do the same thing to compare. Does the diaper allow movement of the knees toward each other? How much of a difference is it? The intention here is not to force the knees together, but to gently feel your baby’s natural range of motion without a diaper, and then to find out if the diaper restricts access to her natural movement.
  • Look for companies that offer a variety of sizes and stick to the smallest possible size needed.
  • No matter which diapers you choose, give your baby diaper-free time, wearing only swimming/training pants if desired.

Knees-Together Time

Kneeling (kneel-sitting back on the heels and kneel-standing on the knees) offers many wonderful benefits! Kneeling comes in once babies begin to crawl on hands and knees, sit back from crawling, and pull to standing. For optimal movement development, babies need access to knees-together time in these positions. Kneeling–with the forelegs under the body (not W-sitting)–re-engages midline, provides an efficient transition into and out of hands-and-knees crawling, and supports coordination of the legs and torso. It even helps establish healthy support in the lower back. If you notice Baby’s legs spreading wide while crawling or W-sitting, respectfully and gently scoot her knees in toward each other underneath her so that she can kneel-sit. Kneel-sitting generally provides healthier alignment, as well as more options and freedom of movement than W-sitting.

Kneel-sitting is a fantastic, fantastic, fantastic thing for babies to do!

From kneel-sitting, Baby can move in any direction . . . including up to kneel-standing and eventually into walking.

But efore disposables all babies were in cloth, and they ended up just fine didn’t they?

I can’t speak to what cloth diapers were like in history; but I can speak for the babies whom this issue affects. “Fine” is relative. Again, this is about looking at the size and effects of any diaper, but especially cloth because it has more potential to be bulky. Many physical challenges in adulthood stem from a variety of issues in infancy. In the case of big diapers, the diapers direct the movement, rather than the baby’s natural reflexes—and this can create compensation patterns. These compensations can easily go unnoticed in a “healthy,” active child, but they linger in the body and can become problematic later in life (including back, hip, and knee challenges).

Think Functionally and Shop with Awareness

Some babies may not be affected by their diapers. For some babies, this is a question of optimal development vs he’ll-be-okay development. For others still, it can turn a “normal” situation into an unnecessary difficulty that can affect not only movement, but also learning and self confidence.

Whether there are concerns or none,  whether cloth or disposable, every baby benefits from diaper-free time! Optimal joint development… Freedom of movement… Having the most potential available within ourselves to rely on in everyday life… Why not make the effort to build the best foundation possible in the first year?

Eliza Parker is a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator®, Aware Parenting Instructor, Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner, and is trained as a Feldenkrais® Practitioner.

© Eliza Parker 2014, All Rights Reserved 

Exersaucers and Seats For Babies—What’s Best For Baby’s Health?

I often get questions about walkers, activity centers, jumpers, and seats for babies. These devices can be tempting and are often used as a temporary holding-spot so the caregiver can do something like cook dinner or take a shower. We all want the best for our babies—and ourselves. Here’s what you want to be aware of regarding these devices and Baby’s long-term health.

Many parents aren’t aware of this information. If you are using these devices, I share this not to pass judgment, but to spread the word. Consider, gently, ways that you can ease your family into less propping time and more floor time.

Any device that puts a baby into a position he can’t get into on his own yet will encourage compensation patterns. Even if it seems like he’s fully propped and supported, somewhere internally he still can’t support himself or he’d be doing the position on his own already. Often after prolonged use, arching (“extension”) takes over. This compromises integrated development of the lower back and hips, which makes a person more susceptible back problems later in life. Being upright before Baby’s body is ready also calls on his reflexes to be over-active because he is constantly responding as if he is falling. This prevents a natural progression of milestones because what would normally be natural movement is now perceived as falling, which can result in events such as scooting on the bottom or entirely skipping crawling on hands-and-knees (a very important milestone!).

Non-walking babies of all ages often can “stand” or take weight on their legs. This is a healthy sign, but it’s actually a reflex, not a choice! Babies “like” these devices because they bring Baby up higher perceptually so she can participate in the up-high grown-up world. However, Baby’s movement abilities do not yet match this higher perceptual/sensory state. So a split is developed: their bodies tell them to stay low, but we ask them go beyond what they’re ready for.

It’s wonderful to bring Baby up face-to-face while you’re holding him

It is wonderful to carry Baby upright, to bring him up to face level for interaction, to sit her up for eating, etcetera. But it’s oh so beneficial to balance this upright time with on-the-floor time. Meaning—we go down to the floor with Baby! Yes, go on and lie down with Baby and enjoy!

Contrary to popular belief, babies actually learn how to sit and stand through rolling and belly-crawling, which build strength, balance, and coordination—not from actually sitting and standing. So . . . floor time (so they can move as they’re ready) and baby-wearing (so they can feel you moving) are great for Baby’s movement and brain development!

If you are alone and need a contained, safe space temporarily, I recommend these things:

  • If Baby is young enough, there are soft, flat floor pads with short soft walls on all sides called “Baby Zabu.”
  • Create baby-safe spaces throughout your house so that Baby can move freely rather than be confined. Some babies whose needs such as hunger and sleep are currently met and who don’t need to cry-in-arms will play happily while you do what you need to do
  • Is there a way you can carry or wear Baby while you do your task?
  • Always communicate to your Baby verbally what you are doing or need to do
  • If you’re thinking, “that’s nice, but you don’t understand, I need a device,” use one that keeps the baby as low or as inclined as possible
  • If you’re thinking, “whatever!” and you’re still going to use the walker or seat, use it for as short a time as possible.

Bern, professional Nanny in Seattle WA, recalls:

When I was growing up, it was before all the fancy furniture folks drag around now for the infant. When there was a family thing and a new infant was there, a space would be set aside on the carpet, a blanket spread, surrounded by pillows—stuff every house had. Seemed all of the relations did that.

And walkers—when the kid was ready, she prised herself up on the sofa edge and went back and forth for as long as the strength held, then plopped down. 

I think children need attentive, loving caregivers, not things.

Of course there are times when we find ourselves as the only grown-up present,needing to put Baby down safely. That is a fact of typical life in our culture! But as much as possible, for the well-being and full potential of our babies, please limit the use of propping devices.
© Elizabeth Parker 2011, All Rights Reserved (Links are welcome. If you’d like to share my post in your blog or materials, please ask permission.)