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Are Walkers Bad For Babies

author
Maria Johnson
• Sunday, 24 January, 2021
• 7 min read

Research also suggests that use of baby walkers doesn't help the process of learning to walk. Instead, baby walkers eliminate the desire to walk.

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Contents

In: Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. Ramadan SN, et al. Unintentional injury and its prevention in infant: Knowledge and self-reported practices of main caregivers.

Today these walking devices are usually made of hard plastic, with wheels on the bottom. Another kind of device is a stationary baby walker (the same design, but they only go in a circle or don’t move at all).

In 1994, stationary baby walkers were introduced, decreasing the amount of injuries each year. And in 1997, new safety standards made them safer, decreasing injuries by 76 percent from 1990 to 2001.

“ Walkers are unsafe,” pediatrician Gary Smith said in an interview with ABC News. Even if these devices were safe, there is evidence that they don’t actually help baby learn to walk properly.

Infants who used walkers also scored lower on Bayley scales of mental and motor development. Research suggests the delay in motor development can be attributed to the fact that baby can’t see his legs.

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Being able to see his own limbs shows baby what type of movement helped him achieve his goal. Walkers make it hard for baby to develop all the muscles she needs to ultimately walk on her own.

According to Pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene, baby walkers strengthen the lower legs but not the upper legs and hips, which are essential for walking, and satisfy baby’s desire to move across the floor, making them less likely to try crawling. Pediatrician Dr. Emma Piker discovered that babies who developed naturally (i.e. weren’t placed in containers like walkers) were stronger, more stable, and more confident in their movements.

Though the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) has called for a ban in the U.S., you can still buy baby walkers in the U.S. Of course, activity mats or just blankets on the floor allow baby to explore their surroundings while strengthening their entire body.

Playpens filled with a few toys or swings are other alternatives that can help you while cooking dinner or doing another activity where you need baby to be safe and contained. It is also not safe to place baby in these devices for nap time (source).

Mobility experts recommend no more than two 15-20 minute sessions in a device like this per day. With a safe place to practice what baby can already do on his own and strengthen muscles he needs for the next developmental milestone, he’ll begin walking before you know it.

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Although they seem simple and fun, baby walkers can lead to injuries and developmental delays. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I suddenly became a super sleuth, researching “the best of” and “safe alternatives” for everything ranging from toys to onesies to cribs.

I never even considered a baby walker as an option because I had heard enough horror stories (including my own tumble down the steps as an infant). Babies may be injured while using infant walkers, ” Texas-based Dr. Ebony Collier, who is board-certified in both general and developmental and behavioral pediatrics, tells Romper in an email interview.

In 1999, an estimated 8,800 children younger than 15 months were treated in hospital emergency departments in the United States for injuries associated with infant walkers, according to a 2001 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Collier says the AAP also asserts that if parents insist on using infant walkers, it is recommended that a safety gate or door be placed at the top of stairs.

“Also there should be constant adult supervision when infant walkers are in use and care should be made to keep the child away from potentially harmful things, such as hot items from the stove or sources of water such as the toilet, bathtub, or swimming pool,” she says. In fact, according to a September ABC News report, most pediatricians agree that infant walkers should be banned.

Like most new parents, I get bombarded by everyone with products and recommendations on what is good or bad for my baby. And it’s inevitable to start wondering what devices are actually beneficial to my future baby’s health and development.

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Among those devices, I’ve heard that baby walker are very popular, but I wasn’t sure about them, so I decided to do some research and share with you what I had found. Baby walkers give the infant independence that can lead to accidents and potential harm.

They offer a false promise of autonomy when in fact they require parental supervision. You will learn why some parents choose to buy baby walkers and yet why they probably aren’t a good safety and developmental device.

This is because baby walkers prevent the infant to see his or her legs, making it hard to understand what type of movement will help them achieve their goal in terms of mobility. This is just one example of how the walkers make it harder for a baby to follow nature’s lead in terms of learning how to walk.

Parents need to be patient with their baby’s natural evolution and avoid skipping fundamental parts of development, such as crawling and tummy time. This is why quality tummy time, trying to sit up, crawling and all the activities that prepare the baby’s body for walking shouldn’t be skipped.

Doesn’t allow to learn the natural spatial reasoning and depth perception If you are worried about the speed that your baby needs to learn how to walk, you should rely on natural processes such as crawling instead of walkers.

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These gives the baby the possibility of practicing important movements that later will be needed for developing walking skills. Baby walkers are also a safety concern, according to physicians and doctors around the world, because they increase the chance of injury in infants.

An article published by NPR said that hospital emergency rooms in the United States treat more than 2,000 babies a year for injuries caused while the infant was using baby walkers, an alarming number if you are a worried parent. Many experts around the world have claimed that baby walkers are dangerous, and some countries, such as Canada, have even decided that it is safer to ban the sale and use of them to avoid this problem.

Problems such as falling down stairs, into a pool, reaching higher objects that can potentially harm them or being burned are some practical safety concerns. Sometimes the walkers are too tall for your babies, and they can’t reach the floor with their feet, making it even less recommendable.

What you should do is encourage as much tummy time as possible for building your baby’s basic motor skills. Your baby needs to learn how to crawl first, practice body strength and get to know their environment.

According to an interview with a pediatric development specialist Anne Zachary for USA TODAY, a safer option to baby walkers is a stationary activity center or activity mat used in moderation. Activity mats allow the baby to practice body strength as well as explore the surroundings safely, without forcing them to do something they aren’t ready for.

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Another option, if your baby is ready to stand up and has enough strength, is high chairs. These types of chairs allow your baby some autonomy to play with toys on the tray.

Of course, it is always necessary to supervise your baby while seated in the high chair, but it is definitely a safer option. Being encouraging and supporting of our baby’s natural evolution is the key to their success.

According to a study in the journal Pediatrics, between 1990 and 2014, more than 230,000 children less than 15 months of age were treated in US emergency departments for injuries related to walkers. The majority of injuries happen when children fall down stairs in a walker, usually injuring their head or neck, sometimes seriously.

Even still, in 2014 2,000 toddlers were seen in emergency rooms for injuries due to walkers. Some parents buy them because they think that walkers help babies learn to walk faster.

However, the opposite is true: using a walker can delay independent walking. It’s more about learning to pull to stand and then balance and take steps without support.

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They learn it by being put on the floor with something they can pull up on, like a couch or a caregiver. However, there are other and safer ways to get babies upright, such as in stationary standers.

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