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Is Your Baby Gear Safe?

A guide to help you choose the right equipment for your baby’s development.

Is Your Baby Gear Safe?

Some baby gear is timeless: the rocking chair, the cradle and the swings, to name a few. They evoke movement that the baby experienced in the womb and replicate that lulling comfort of being held in a gentle fluid flow. There are also all the other baby seats, like high chairs, which turn out to be a necessity at some point or another. But how can we know what is truly helpful for a baby and his parents? Can any of these tools be detrimental to his developing body and mind?

Recently, there has been a baby boom and with it an explosion of new baby gear. Manufacturers state they’ve done their research, make safety claims and assert that their products promote development.

A developing baby’s anatomy is unique and ever-changing. A baby’s head, for example, is much bigger than his bottom. His spine is nearly straight, without the natural curves of the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and tailbone curves that later create architectural cantilevers to support our bodies in vertical. Babies are also born with only one foot bone – the other twenty-five foot bones develop from cartilage with push, pull, and reach movements, like tummy time, rolling, creeping, and crawling. These movements also help baby become stronger muscularly and create the spine that enables us to be the only vertical mammal standing on just two feet!

When you consider baby’s anatomical uniqueness, you quickly realize that much of the baby equipment out there is anything but helpful. To help you figure out what gear you should get to help your baby develop, here’s a guide to the good, the bad and the questionable.

For feeding. Some manufacturers claim that their devices help a baby learn to sit. But forcing a baby into an upright position before he gets there independently from lying on the floor can be detrimental to the pelvis, spine and head, potentially causing physical misalignment. That is why reclining seats are best to fully support baby’s developing body. Reclining seats fully support baby’s developing body. Many high chairs now have a variable recline feature, which is terrific! When reclining slightly, a baby who is ready to eat solids, but not yet able to sit in vertical can be more comfortable, balanced, alert, and willing to eat. Digestion is better in this position as well.

For lounging. Floor seats that offer molded contours force baby to maintain a sitting position before he can sit on his own cause the pelvis to rock backwards. Similarly, most jumpers and walkers force a baby into a vertical position with nothing but flimsy fabric that does not adequately support their spine and head. This isn’t good for the body, and it is safest to use them only once baby is really good at creeping, a movement also known as the military crawl. This movement is a powerful strengthener for the muscles and joints and can help baby balance his big head. Creeping contributes greatly to developing the foot cartilage to bone, and also is the precursor to being able to crawl on all fours or sit which require great balance (like riding a bike!). Until then, swings and bouncer chairs that recline are great options.

For playing. One of the best all-time inventions to help parents childproof a home, give them time to do some chores, and help baby develop has been the playpen. These enclosures are portable and give baby the floor time that he needs to practice movements while playing with whatever toys or objects the parents have placed inside the playpen. There are also gates that expand to provide baby with a safe room within a room.

For babywearing. The bottom line in considering whether something is safe is to really look at the baby and consider what its developing body needs. This changes over time. For example, with using baby carriers, a newborn baby should NEVER face out because its head and spine are not being supported. When can a baby face out? When the baby is creeping. This movement develops with floor time and stages of tummy time activities and generally occurs between 6-9 months of age.

For sleeping. Choosing a crib mattress is serious business, as there are documented health risks associated with the toxins emitted from some mattresses. Research now shows that babies who breathe toxic mattress fumes have a higher incidence of SIDS. That is why finding an all natural organic mattress for your baby is imperative. And while you’re at it, get one for yourself too. This could range from an organic cotton futon to a rubber memory foam type of mattress. There are many options. We spend a great deal of time sleeping and breathing on our mattresses throughout life. They are part of our everyday life. Making sure baby has a clean health mattress is crucial.

Enjoy your babies as they develop with floor play, emulating the gentle fluid flow of the womb, engaging activities, and safe, clean baby equipment that is used with discretion and consideration.

For more on baby development, go here. There’s also a video on tummy time and beyond.

12 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$189

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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