According to Gerber and Johnson (1998), "The consumer baby industry want us to believe that we need all these things to survive. They know parents, especially anxious, new ones, are tempted to do many things to alleviate crying and keep a baby happy" (p.48-49). Gerber and Johnson (1998) discuss that using devices that restrict freedom of movement places your young human in an "altered state of consciousness". So, while the young human may be momentarily distracted, their need for freedom of movement goes unmet. Gerber and Johnson (1998) write:
Baby carriers: Using a baby carrier, like a Snugli, or baby sling, leaves your baby hanging from your body in a passive position, unable to move. I equate love with empathetic attention rather than simple physical closeness. Infant seats and bouncers: These, too, keep a child from moving in a natural manner on her own.
Swings: These hypnotize children with their back and forth movement. I like for children to be aware of what they do and how they feel, even if what they feel is tired, hungry, or frustrated. Swings encourage passivity. What goal is accomplished by not letting your child face reality? A swing is fine for an older child who can get into and out of it and pump it herself. That's an active activity. Theodore D. Wachs, in Early Experience and Human Development (Plenum Press, 1982), supports this idea. He cites ample evidence that "physical restrictions of the child's attempts at exploration, defined primarily in terms of lack of floor freedom and possibly in terms of physical barriers, tends to be related to lowered cognitive-intellectual development."
Walkers: The term walker is a misnomer. It is a piece of equipment on wheels in which a dangling baby rolls across a floor. In order to walk, a baby needs to learn how to support her weight, and balance on one foot. She does neither of these in a walker. Studies have also shown that walkers are dangerous.
This means that the latest vibrating, music playing bassinets, or high-tech battery operated exersaucers or baby carriers interrupt the natural motor development.
For the above mentioned reasons, as part of our plan for the program, we do NOT use any of these devices that restrict the movement of infants in our program. We provide freedom of movement for all the young humans in our program as young children are learning how to learn through freedom of movement.
Tardos (2013) writes:
During the period while the child progresses from turning onto his side to safely walking, the average length of time spent in the same position during his waking time is not more than 2 to 2.5 minutes. In the 30-minute observation period, an average of 56 changes of position were recorded, amounting to almost two changes per minute. (p. 170)
This means that when we restrict the movement of young children we are robbing the child of all these learning opportunities to build the neural networks in their brain and to strengthen their muscles. Restricting movement may also stifle the intrinsic motivation to rely on one’s own body cues. For example, in our program you will find infants placed on their backs on padded but firm flooring that enables them to move their bodies freely because we believe that the infant’s body is his or her first learning environment. Another example would be that we have developmentally appropriate climbing structures that encourage children to climb and crawl which are brain building experiences. Examples of climbing structures include a Pikler triangle with a ramp, climbing arch, platform with ramp, stair climber, boat rocker, and Pikler diaper changing table. Young children are learning how to learn through freedom of movement.
Young humans that are given freedom of movement develop agile bodies and understand what they can and cannot do with their current abilities. It is our responsibility to ensure that young humans are given that freedom. It is their right!
Tardos, A. (2013). Facilitating the play of children at Loczy. In M. Gerber, D. Greenwald & J. Weaver (Eds.), The RIE manual for parents and professionals expanded edition (pp. 170-176). Los Angeles, CA: Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE).
Gerber, M., & Johnson, A. (1998). Your self-confident baby. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.