Some parents’ good intentions in helping their child to sit up or walk are instead leading to delays or abnormal development patterns that could adversely affect them into adulthood, warns a Des Moines chiropractor. 

Chris LoRang had noticed a disturbing trend in parents whose children were not attaining normal development milestones when they should have been. It soon became apparent that a common thread was the baby walkers, jumpers and other products that LoRang refers to as “infant orthotic devices.” Some physical therapy experts have dubbed conditions that can result from too much time in these devices as “container baby syndrome” or “bucket baby syndrome.” 
“These devices are heavily marketed as promoting infant mobility,” said LoRang, who operates Capital Chiropractic in the East Village. “But is it the right gross motor development at the right time? It’s like trying to speak a sentence before they’re making sounds.” 

He and his wife, Abbie Sawyer, have launched an information movement called “Building Your Baby From the Ground Up,” which seeks to educate parents about preventing the developmental problems that these devices can cause. LoRang noted that the American Pediatric Association last fall issued a call for a ban on child walkers, citing the safety dangers they present to toddlers as well as the developmental concerns they pose.

“Unless a baby can get into a position or movement completely on their own — like sitting up or walking on two feet — they should not artificially experience this position through the aid of a device or assistance,” LoRang said. 

The initiative’s mission is: “To equip parents, caretakers, day cares and clinicians with actionable resources for helping infants around the world to move and develop naturally.” 
The couple has had about 700 brochures printed for distribution to pediatricians and child care providers, and in April launched a website. Their Instagram page has attracted hundreds of followers as well. 
“Our ideal is to have it physician-led and clinic-led, but we’re feeling that [the movement] is parent-led,” Sawyer said. “People are starting to ask us: ‘How do I bring this to the attention of my child care provider?’ ” 
Among the physicians who have heard LoRang present on the topic locally is Dr. Chandramohan Batra, a family practice physician with MercyOne in Des Moines.  

“It was an eye-opener for me personally,” said Batra, who has practiced family medicine for 30 years. “We had a very good healthy discussion. I think he is revolutionizing this concept and spreading the message. I think it will be very useful if all pediatricians have this information.” 
Batra said he is currently talking with his clinic manager about arranging to display the Building Your Baby materials at the clinic. In the meantime, he’s passing along LoRang’s business card that has the Building Your Baby website and social media information printed on it, along with LoRang’s contact information. 

“I think for me, how he integrated all the information was unique,” Batra said. “I had read about [effects of assistive] devices — but I think he put it together in a more effective, user-friendly way so that everyone could understand it.” 

Abby Gillard, a physical therapist with Select Physical Therapy in Ankeny, said she has discussed the concepts with LoRang, who is a friend. It’s information that could be valuable to share with a new mother or a patient who is expecting a baby, if it was appropriate to the circumstances and the topic came up, she said.  

“Conceptually, it makes a ton of sense,” said Gillard, whose specialty is working with athletes, including adolescents. “From a sports medicine perspective, if someone wears a brace for every single game, they’re going to be at an increased risk for a sprain because their body has grown accustomed to that support.”  

In August, LoRang will be presenting on the topic at the Ancestral Health Symposium in San Diego, a forum that takes an evolutionary approach to studying health issues.
LoRang and Sawyer’s daughter, Emily, was a deciding factor in taking the plunge to begin getting the word out. They believe that their encouraging her to move naturally and foregoing assistive toys is the reason she has always been steady on her feet and well-coordinated. Now they really want to pass that information along to other parents. 

“We realized that parents in the fog of new parenthood needed a guide that spelled out for them — and friends and relatives — what they should and should not be doing,” Sawyer said. “And by the way, it doesn’t cost as much when you’re not buying all those expensive pieces of equipment.”