Saturday, February 17, 2007

Are crawling pants necessary?

My name is Marina Westerdahl, I’m a full time mother of two young kids. Giselle is 4 years old and Ethan is 22 months. I’m the founder of Gissy Bella LLC and designer of the Comfy Crawlers, padded pants for crawling babies.

Like most moms, when my first baby was born, I went to Babies R Us in search of all the items that I thought I would need to help me in this new journey. I asked other more experienced mothers for advice, for recommendations, for brand preferences…it seemed that for every possible need there was a product that met that need. When my daughter began to crawl, I worried about what she might find that she could put in her mouth and cause her to choke, so I would crawl along side with her. My knees sure hurt, but I accepted it. After all, I wasn’t a youngun' anymore… Then my son was born. By this time we were living in a new place that had tile everywhere. I loved the tile and how easy it was to keep clean, but whenever I thought of my son crawling on the rough surface, or worse yet, falling and hurting himself it worried me a lot. I began to brainstorm, surely there had to be a solution. As my children grew, I spent a lot of time playing with my then 2 ½ year old daughter. Her favorite game was playing horsey. And you can guess who the horsey was! Boy! After 5 minutes of crawling on tile carrying my daughter my knees would be hurting! I thought for sure I was in the early stages of severe arthritis! But this experience only made me more determined to find a product that would help make my sons crawling less painful! First I thought I should buy lots and lots of foam padding and cover the entire house with it! But it didn’t seem too practical. I thought of buying several large rugs, but that seemed too costly. Umm…what to do! One day, when my son was six months I had one of those moments, when for a few seconds, my mind cleared and it all made perfect sense (sleep deprivation greatly decreases these moments!) I would sew pants for my son with foam padding in the front legs! The next day I went to Joann’s Fabrics and bought all the materials. I dusted my sewing machine off, and several hours later, my first pair of pants was complete. If he wasn’t sleeping, he was wearing those pants! And thus, we got through the crawling and early walking stages with a little more ease.

I wondered, why couldn’t I find something like this at any store? Was I the only mother that felt so strongly about my babies’ knees? Talking to other moms, I realized that most moms really care about keeping their babies knees soft and comfy during crawling. Some don’t really know what to do about it, and others figure that since babies have been crawling on rough surfaces for ages and survived, why change that now? Some moms have even said, ‘I crawled bared kneed on gravel and I did just fine, so can my baby!’ Well, I say, don’t you want better for your baby?

In writing this article, I decided to do a little online research, and guess what? There’s not much out there! All I found was an American Academy of Pediatrics research done in May 2000. You can read the entire research article here. An excerpt: “ The majority of normal children (after the age of 9 months) and adolescents, who do not consult for trauma, had 1 or more recent skin injuries. These injuries, mostly bruises, are more prevalent in the summer in a region with a temperate climate and can be present on all parts of the body, although they are most frequently observed on the limbs, especially on the shins and knees.” Aha! I knew that my mommy given instinct would not let me down.

Next, if you click on this link you can view a table that shows “Percentages of Children Presenting Injuries by Site and Age.” This table shows that in children between the ages of 9 months and 4 years of age, the legs and knees account for over 75% of injuries. Children under 9 months were not as likely to suffer from knee and leg injuries because typically they aren’t crawling yet, and children over the age of 4 years old are typically more coordinated and less likely to fall as younger children. Now, although I’m not an expert, I wanted to share with you my concerns as a mother through my online research.

When my son began to crawl, I just felt better knowing that he was wearing pants with built in foam pads. They were light pads, so he could crawl as fast as he wanted and not feel constrained in any way. The pads were built in so he couldn’t wiggle his way out of them. Other moms noticed them and fell in love with them. I had more orders than I could keep up with! I wasn’t looking for a business, but I knew that the necessity was there. Gissy Bella was born. Named after my daughter, Gissy Bella is an online store that sells Comfy Crawlers…you guessed it! Padded pants for crawling babies. We design them and manufacture them right here in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. My son is now almost two years old; with sadness I retired his comfy crawlers a few months ago…but it was a happy sadness…he won’t be little for ever, but while he is here with me (and he’ll let me take care of him) I will do the best I can to take care of him and all his little limbs!

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