A Calderdale song and dance academy owner has backed an expert who claims parents who put young children in buggies and baby seats for too long could be harming their brains.
Neuro-psychologist Sally Goddard Blythe says an over-reliance on prams and strollers – particularly those that face forward – reduces the time youngsters spend interacting with parents or exploring freely.
The knock-on effects could hamper their speech and physical skills, harm performance at school and persist for life says Mrs Goddard Blythe, an expert on children’s brains who was speaking at a conference staged by charity WATCh? (What About the Children?)
The growing use of tablets and smartphones can cause similar problems with babies denied opportunities for singing and talking and `rough play’.
She says attention, balance and coordination skills learned during the first 36 month of life support cognitive learning and have been linked to performance on SATs at schools.
According to her, social interaction – singing talking and even just eye-contact also helps physical development.
She said: “This is not happening if a child is in a forward facing buggy and her mum is using her smartphone. “
Her comments have stirred up a hornet’s nest on the internet with thousands of mums posting comments on the subject.
While many agree with her findings, others claim they are not super woman and need buggies, car seats, rocking chairs and electronic screens in their day to day life.
Mum-of-four Claire O’Connor, who has introduced thousands of British babies to song, dance and exercise over the past eight years through babyballet based in Halifax, says she agrees with Mrs Goddard Blythe because research over the years has shown that infants need the opportunity for free movement and exploration and this helps them develop in so many ways.
“Babies develop through being active and exploring the environment so moving and grooving activities help them develop key skills in all areas of their development such as coordination, balance, flexibility and strength.
“Being physical in a creative way also helps their self-esteem and confidence and encourages them to explore the world around them. Our classes are about self-awareness and inspiring confidence.
“Learning movement to dance is quite an advanced skill and really does develop children’s bodies and brains. Research shows babies are born to dance and really enjoy it.”
Claire believes if buggies, car seats, rocking chairs and electronic equipment are used in moderation there is no problem at all and most mothers appreciate this.
She said it was refreshing to know that for the past eight years babyballet had been helping toddlers progress with both their speech and physical skills and classes had never been busier which showed mums were well aware of the benefits of singing and dancing and interaction for their offspring from a young age.