Parents worldwide have one concern: Are baby hammocks safe for their little ones?
A barrage of questions landed on forums like Reddit and Quora related to this topic. Are they safe for babies? This article will help by digging deep into it and understanding whether it suits them. It is divided into parts, and we will see what the result culminates.
Let us get down to business.
Several countries in Southern Asia use it to cradle their babies. When mothers get tired of holding the baby in their arms, they prefer putting them in hammocks. These hammocks are usually made of mothers’ cloth pieces. In India, some women tie up sarees or dupattas and use them as hammocks (or a jhoola) to keep their babies. They believe it makes the baby feel that they are still in their mother’s arms.
A “Yao lan” is a specific kind of infant hammock well-liked in Singapore and Malaysia.
If mothers in these parts are confident about using them, where does the problem lie then?
An international concern came to light when young children died while swinging in it.
The first was of a girl aged 12, playing and swinging on a saree-made hammock. It appeared that the girl was standing and swinging on a saree-made hammock. While swinging, she lost her equilibrium, causing the saree to twist and get looped around her neck. Her mother discovered her unresponsive, her body hanging by the saree with her two feet on the ground and her hands by her sides. She rushed to the hospital immediately, but it took two hours to get there, and by then, she was comatose.
The second case was of two young sisters in the US. The brick pillar supporting the hammock collapsed when they were swinging on it.
Other reports involved two babies dying while sleeping in them.
Learning about these cases raised concerns amongst parents globally.
A study was conducted to see the implications of using hammocks. The babies chosen were healthy, full-term, and aged 4 to 8 weeks, and they were put to sleep on a hammock.
Their sleeping state, oxygen level (SpO2), desaturation, hypopnoea, and apnoea were tracked.
The final result showed that infants slept less in the hammock. There was no noticeable change in mean SpO2 or rate of oxygen desaturation episodes.
From the observation, experts suggest it is best not to leave the infants unsupervised. That, there were no noticeable body changes.
Hammocks for Therapy
Another study found hammock placement therapy is helpful for preterm babies. Hammock posture is often utilized with preterm newborns hospitalized in intensive care units. This research has examined how much hammock posture decreases discomfort compared to standard positioning. It is a successful therapeutic option for reducing pain and improving sleep-wakefulness balance. It reduced heart rate and breathing frequency while increasing peripheral SpO2, making it a viable option.
There were 28 preterm newborns assessed, ranging in gestational age from 28 to 36 weeks. The behavior of preterm babies gradually progressed to light or deep slumber. A statistically significant drop in heart and respiratory rate was sustained for one minute in a hammock, and the oxygen saturation level remained normal. There were no changes in pain ratings.
Hammock placement is safe for posture that can ease stress levels in preterm neonates with low birth weights. There was no deterioration of either pain or vital signs.
But, this treatment must happen under the supervision of a physiotherapist or a licensed expert.
Despite the research, some doctors are skeptical about using them and believe natural reclining on the surface is better for infants.
In 2019, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that newborns sleep on a firm mattress for all naps. An infant sleep hammock, like adult-sized hammocks used for leisure, is neither flat nor rigid, which might lead to dangerous sleep postures in a baby.
Some hammock brands promise that your baby will be safe on their product. Some parents trust the product and even use it for their second-third newborns. They showed data and said that their product has never caused any harm to their customers’ babies.
These still do not sit well with some practitioners who suggest parents not make their babies sleep on them.
The Final Call
So, what is the right thing to do for your baby?
One side says it is safe to use, while the other states to keep it at bay. What is the best answer to this? Here is what we have gathered for you:
1. From the research and analysis, we recommend staying away from the traditional baby hammocks made at home is better. If tested ones are available in the market, you can use those.
2. Do not leave your baby unsupervised in the hammock. It is best to be present when you choose to put them on it.
3. Keep the baby on it for just a few hours, and we do not suggest leaving the child on it for prolonged hours.
Yet, we recommend you ask your child’s pediatrician what suits best for your little one.
Every infant is different, and there are chances that their needs are different from other babies. The best decision is the one you make for your child. We also recommend that you do your research before purchasing a hammock.
Other precautions that you must follow:
1. Buy the ones that are scientifically approved. We again want you to get the one that is tried and tested.
2. Do not get the ones that are made of nets. There are chances of your baby getting stranded.
3. Again, do not leave the baby alone for even a second when you put them in a hammock.
At the end of the day, we all understand that you want the best for your child, including their health.
Using a hammock has its pros and cons. Hammocks can be used for physical therapy to treat preterm babies admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). There are studies conducted, and some experts using it is safe, while some are left skeptical.
Talk to your doctor, weigh your own pros and cons and see what suits your baby. After all, you and your doctor know your baby the best.
You may also read more about our Hammock posts – what are they and how to use them?