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I have a 4 month old. She has pretty good head/neck control. She just barely fits into our stroller. Is there a general guideline of when an infant can sit in a regular stroller based on certain developmental requirements for the spine?

The only reason why I ask is that the instructions for our other gear, our baby carrier, says this...(sorry for the long quote)

Before the XYZ Carrier attained the popularity it now enjoys, it was thought that slings were a better alternative to the outward facing carrier, in the sense that there was no pressure put on the developing spine.

This is due to the fact that the baby is in more of a horizontal position in the sling, rather than suspended by the crotch with legs dangling and pressure put on the developing sacrum at the base of the spine. At birth the spine is shaped like the letter C, as it was in the womb. As the spine develops it acquires secondary curves in the base of the spine and the neck. These secondary curves begin developing from birth. According to Rochelle Casses in her paper entitled “Infants and Spinal Stress”:

“A baby's spine is placed in a compromising position in many of today's popular carriers. If the carrier positions the infant upright, with the legs hanging down and the bodyweight supported at the base of the baby's spine (i.e. at the crotch), it puts undue stress on the spine which can adversely affect the development of the spinal curves and, in some cases, cause spondylolisthesis.”

The XYZ Carrier used with the infant insert address these very issues. In the XYZ Carrier the baby faces towards the babywearer with the back, sacrum and legs supported in an upright position. The infant insert has a bottom support cushion that is designed to support the natural curvature of a baby’s spine by encouraging a slight forward-leaning position with the pelvis tilted forward. There is also padding to support the back along the length of the spine. The position of the infant in the infant insert is exactly the position that a baby would be in if carried with its bottom supported by both hands and the head resting in the chest with legs tucked-up and, if the infant is old enough, straddling the waist. An update from the editor of a new edition of the above quoted paper validates XYZ's new design:

UPDATE: This article was written in the 1990s when the all of the popular upright baby carrier designs had the harmful characteristics described below. Today, several new and improved upright carrier designs are available. The gold standard for carrying your baby should be your own arms. In other words, an upright carrier should hold your baby the way your arms would, e.g., facing you with legs in a frog-like, spread-squat position with the baby's weight supported across the buttocks and thighs.

Her position in the stroller is not as reclined as when she sits in her car seat. One thing that I can do is to recline the stroller back to match the recline position of the car seat.

I guess a similar question goes for the car seat...is the position ok for the development of the baby?

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2 Answers 2

I had (have) very tall children so they always seemed to outgrow carseats and therefore carseat strollers very early.
I spoke (speak) to the pediatrician before I make any changes in items like that (even with my fourth child, I still check with her).

As far as I know and understand, the carseat is a law mandated type of seat. I got ride o the carseat carrier and bought a rear facing/front facing regular car seat to accommodate them after they outgrew the carrier. For one of my children who was born in the summer and I therefore wanted to keep the carseat carrier longer so I wouldn't have the lengthy transfer to the stroller in the snow I bought an extra long carrier (I think it is Graco) so she was able to stay in it for longer (them my next two children got it). That was great, however, it sounds like that is not an option at this point (maybe for your next child).

In terms of stroller, it is primarily based on head control. I would recommend reclining the seat as the baby will not need to look around anyway. I found this transition hard as you no longer are looking at that yummy face when you are pushing the stroller, but this was my issue not my child's.

Therefore, though my research and having gone through this with 4 kids, I would recommend moving her. If she is outgrowing the carseat you need to move her in the car for safety's sake. But, as I mentioned, I always checked with my pediatrician as each child's development is different.

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I feel your pain regarding not being able to see my baby's face as she explores the world in the front facing stroller. :) –  milesmeow Feb 9 '12 at 23:57

Don't be intimidated by the instruction manual. Just use your own judgment. Put your baby in the stroller and see if it looks comfortable. The baby will not be living in the stroller so I doubt that it will affect spinal development.

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