HOW TO…maximise interaction and encourage your baby’s emotional development and improve sensory awareness
A survey conducted by Opinion Matters has found that 96% of parents think that face to face interaction with their child is important, particularly citing the significance of being able to talk to their child, feeling close to them and being able to see how their child is feeling. The survey, which took place amongst mothers of children under the age of five, also found that 95% of parents questioned would like to be able to easily change the way their child faces in the pushchair. However less than 1% of the pushchairs currently sold in the UK have the ability to instantly change the orientation of the seat.
Child psychologist Emma Kenny said: “Independent studies have repeatedly shown that infant development is best achieved when parents are emotionally available and able to respond to the child’s demands for attention and comfort.
It is therefore surprising that over the last few decades, pushchairs in the UK have undergone a change in design, so that most pushchairs now face forward (i.e. away from the parent), in contrast to the design in earlier decades, where pushchairs faced backwards toward the parent.”
Independent research shows that pushchairs that face away from parents do not promote such conditions; indeed, they are likely to interfere with a parent’s ability to tune in quickly to an infant’s needs and interests. Away-facing pushchairs are associated with a reduction in speaking for both parents and infants. For infants, speech was reduced by almost a third (27%) and for parents, speech halved from a quarter in inward-facing pushchairs (25%) to just one in 10 (11%).
According to Emma Kenny, “Parents understand the need to create a rounded environment for their child, so the fact that 19 out of 20 mothers would be interested in the option to alter the orientation as they see fit, suggests a new shift in perceptions of what is important when buying a pushchair. It’s great to see that some manufacturers are starting to take notice.”
Baby products specialist Graco has invested considerable time into research with parents, finding that many are looking for pushchair solutions that allow them to interact more with their child. The Graco Symbio (www.symbiobygraco.co.uk) is an innovative new travel system solution that features a unique reversible handle allowing the child to instantly go from the away-facing position to the toward- facing position, using only one hand, without having to lift the child out of the pushchair.
Relax in safety
Research also shows that infants in toward-facing pushchairs were twice as likely to be sleeping as infants in away-facing pushchairs, an unexpected finding that has tentatively been interpreted as an indicator of stress levels. Results from studies have also yielded further tentative evidence for the possibility that pushchair orientation could influence child stress: infant heart rates fell slightly when moved into a toward-facing orientation, and they were also more likely to fall asleep in this orientation.