A Russian practice to “de-stress” newborn babies has come under criticism from experts who say the exercises involved are not safe.
Dynamic baby gymnastics involves many exercises that would shock mums in the UK. They include holding the baby upside down by his legs and swinging him from side to side. Clips, including one of a mum swinging her baby around her head, shocked YouTube watchers when they appeared last month. They have since been removed.
But practitioners insist the gymnastics are good for babies. “When they’re born, babies are very tense,” Oleg Tyutin, a Russian advocate of the practice, told the BBC. “They’re frightened by the wide, open space around them. This procedure helps a baby adapt to their new surroundings. It makes infants more open, more sociable and more relaxed,” Oleg said.
After YouTube blocked the videos, deeming them too shocking, the mum in the clip, Elena Fokina said, “I’m really sorry the video clip has been removed – it’s sad that a lot of parents will miss the chance to see that there is another way to bring up your baby.”
There have been no official studies into dynamic baby gymnastics yet it is legal to practice in Russia. “I think this is potentially dangerous,” said American GP Robert Young, a paediatrician who has worked in the country for 13 years. “I would never recommend it.”
“Russian parents are no different from any parents in the world. They want their babies to grow up the best they possibly can but I think the potential for injuries is there,” added Dr Robert.
There are no current plans to outlaw the practice in Russia.