An osteopath on baby products
Patrick Mazeau is an osteopath with more than thirty-eight years of experience in France and the UK. He has been treating pregnant women and babies on a daily basis since the 1990s. His area of expertise is plagiocephaly or “flat head syndrome”. Patrick lives in Paris, where he has his practice. He is also a devoted dad and grandpa. Read more about Patrick here.
As an osteopath, I first became interested in baby products in 1987 when I began to treat pregnant women and newborns. Since then, I have become very knowledgeable about babies and their physique. A baby’s skeletal development begins during the third month of the fetal period. At birth, a baby normally weighs about 7 lbs (3.2 kg) and is around 20 in (50 cm) long. Babies grow rapidly in the first three years: in the first five months alone they will double their birth weight, and after one year they will have tripled their weight.
The skull bones ossify at about the age of two, but the skeleton will continue to develop from infancy until the end of adolescence, at around the age of 25. There is no single position that is optimal for helping bones develop. Babies need to vary their position, and parents need to pay close attention to signals that it is time to alter their baby’s position.
I have treated many babies with flat heads, with the number of cases increasing in recent years for various reasons. I advise my pregnant patients to apply preventive positions and techniques to minimise flat head deformations and encourage the baby to turn their head, which also prevents torticollis (twisting of the neck). If there is a problem, preventive measures should be started as early as the first few weeks after birth. I recommend that babies be checked as early as at three weeks. I often examine and treat babies in their first week of life! This is wonderful and more efficient than waiting until the baby is six months old! The skull bones are less adaptative by then. I can also give more advice to the baby’s parents at an earlier stage.
I appreciate the fabric that BabyBjörn uses in its products. It is very flexible and airy, and it allows space and movement for the skull bones and the baby’s body in general. This is of particular importance for head support in both the baby carrier and bouncer, since they are used at the age when we tend to see a large number of flat heads.
BabyBjörn Baby Carrier is synonymous with comfort. The baby is seated correctly, with the hips spread, and the spinal column supported in a stable and upright position. The baby can rest against mum’s or dad’s body. There is enough space for the baby to turn their head to either side when facing their parent.
During the pregnancy, the foetus is in close contact with the mother and is aware of temperature, sounds, etc. The baby carrier reproduces this feeling very well, maintaining close contact and reducing stress for the baby during those first post-birth weeks. And it enables both parents to provide this security. Once the baby’s neck is strong enough to hold their head straight, the baby carrier must be able to stabilise both the spine and neck to allow the baby to turn their head. To prevent a flat head, a baby carrier must avoid compressing the skull bones and allow the baby to turn their head to either side.
A baby carrier must also allow the baby’s shoulders, arms, hips and legs to move freely. This enables the baby to benefit from different positions and mobility. Depending on their age, the baby’s position can be changed, for example from lying on their tummy to lying on their back, to allow them to see the world around them.
I advise parents to play frequently with their baby, and switch between time spent on their tummy and time on their back, with plenty of contact to stimulate psychomotor development during their first year. My sons are 34 and 31 years old, and I used to carry them in BabyBjörn baby carriers. I remember how much I appreciated the way their backs were supported in a natural, upright position when I carried them.
I like the airy structure of the bouncer. The baby’s body benefits from the breathability and flexibility of the stretch fabric. The baby bouncer’s design, soft and airy fabric, and generous size provide well-balanced, comfortable support that allows the child to move and rest at will. The progressive height adjustment of the seat respects the psychomotor development of newborns.
The bouncer is comfortable thanks to the airy structure and stretchability of its fabric. I can see how this prevents bad contact with the cranial bones system, thus avoiding flat heads. The bouncer offers several positions, from horizontal to 45°. Babies should not sit upright too soon, i.e. before the age of three months, to protect their spinal development and avoid the risk of deformities. The bouncer’s secure restraint system keeps the baby safe inside, while easily allowing the baby to move their legs and arms freely.
My grandson loves rocking in his baby bouncer. It keeps him occupied and happy as he feels his body moving.