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.
Baby walkers make it difficult for the infant to develop all of their muscles. 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.
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.
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.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. There are walkers which have anti-fall sensors to save the baby falling on stairs.
However, my advice is always to consult with a pediatrician before purchasing any baby product. It affects the baby’s natural body development, or their movement is restricted as they don’t apply their own efforts to move/crawl.
When babies are using a walker they put more effort into their hips rather than legs. Before ordering any product related to baby, you have the internet in your hand.
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). Even with newer safety standards, there are still about 2,100 baby walker-related trips to the ER each year.
Head bumps and bruises (from falling down stairs or pulling items off of counters onto themselves) Burns and poisoning (from accessing places baby shouldn’t go) Pinched fingers or toes Drowning from falling into a toilet or pool Suffocation from neck being compressed against the feeding tray (the most rare of the injuries) 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. 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). Keep in mind, when baby is using this device, he will still require close supervision as there is a potential to fall down stairs, or go too fast.
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. Although they seem simple and fun, baby walkers can lead to injuries and developmental delays.
Martha is the mother of Dr. Bill’s eight children, a registered nurse, a former childbirth educator, à la Lethe League leader, and a lactation consultant. Martha is the co-author of 25 parenting books and is a popular lecturer and media guest drawing on her 18 years of breastfeeding experience with her eight children (including Stephen with Down Syndrome and Lauren, her adopted daughter).
Martha speaks frequently at national parenting conferences and is noted for her advice on how to handle the most common problems facing today’s mothers with their changing lifestyles. Click here to view products deemed “hip-healthy” by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
In contrast, there is evidence that carrying a baby on the mother’s body (or father’s body) is likely to influence hip development during the first six months of life when the baby is carried for many hours each day for purposes of bonding, or infant care. The purpose of this educational statement is to provide information about healthy hip development to guide manufacturers in the development of optimum designs for infant equipment, so parents can make appropriate choices about the devices they use for their babies.
Parents and caregivers are encouraged to choose a baby carrier that allows healthy hip positioning, in addition to other safety considerations. During the first few months of life the ball is more likely to be loose within the socket because of stretching during the birth process.
The risk of hip dysplasia or dislocation is greatest in the first few months of life. The risk to the hips is greater when this unhealthy position is maintained for a long time.
Some types of baby carriers and other equipment may interfere with healthy hip positioning. Such devices include but are not limited to baby carriers, slings and wraps.
These devices could inadvertently place hips in an unhealthy position, especially when used for extended periods of time. Any device that restrains a baby’s legs in an unhealthy position should be considered a potential risk for abnormal hip development.
Parents are advised to research the general safety and risks of any device they wish to use. When in doubt, we recommend involving your primary health-care provider in any further decision-making that may be medically relevant.
These series of drawings demonstrate typical devices that allow healthier hip positioning in comparison to those which do not. Baby carriers should support the thigh and allow the legs to spread to keep the hip in a stable position.