- Is it safe for a baby to use baby walkers?
- What makes baby walkers unsafe for infants?
- Can baby walkers help in baby’s development?
- What are the alternatives to baby walkers?
Your baby is almost a year old, and you cannot wait for them to start walking. You might want to get them a baby walker to help them achieve that milestone as early as possible.
But do baby walkers really help the baby grasp some walking skills? If yes, when should you introduce it to your baby?
Is It Safe For A Baby To Use Baby Walkers?
No. Baby walkers are unsafe for babies and are a leading cause of injury in children under the age of four (1).
Pediatric experts unanimously discourage the use of this equipment. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has also called for a ban on baby walkers with wheels (2). Therefore, parents must avoid using walkers to keep the baby safe.
[ Read: How To Help Baby Sit Up ]
What Makes Baby Walkers Unsafe For Infants?
Baby walkers are unsafe due to the following reasons.
- Risk of falling off the stairs: Baby walkers are a hazard when you have stairs in your home. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), most walker-related injuries happen when a baby in a walker moves to the edge of the staircase and falls (3).
- The baby can lose balance: Babies can also lose their balance when gliding on the floor in a walker and take a fall. According to the AAP, a child can move at a speed of three feet per second in a walker. Moving at such incredible speeds is overwhelming for a baby and can result in the loss of balance.
- The head gets hurt the most when a baby falls from the walker: When a baby loses balance in a walker, it is their skull that takes the brunt of the fall. A study has found that 82% of falls from a baby walker lead to a head injury in the infant (4). The head is extra delicate in babies due to their soft skull bones and developing brain. Any grievous injury can cause a lasting impact on the baby’s life.
- A walker increases the chances of accidental death: Baby walkers can lead to not just falls, but a variety of other incidents. Medical experts state that a baby on a walker can have access to upper shelves from where they may pull down large items that can fall on their head. The easy accessibility increases the risk of the baby getting access to poisonous substances, hot food items, and also reach places like the swimming pool or the bathtub where they can fall, choke, and even drown.
Accidents with baby walkers can happen even when elders are around. Parents can do little during an untoward incident since things happen quickly with barely any time to react. Baby walkers are not only risky but can also interfere with the baby’s development.
Can Baby Walkers Help In Baby’s Development?
No. Unlike the popular belief, baby walkers do not help in the physical development of the baby nor do they make the baby walk better. An infant will stand up and start cruising (walk with support) once their legs are ready, irrespective of whether they use a walker or not.
A baby walker can delay the physical development by making the baby to use their leg muscles differently than they usually do. Babies saddled in baby walkers at a very young age may not even crawl, which eventually has an impact on other milestones later in their life.
[ Read: How To Teach Babies To Swim ]
What Are The Alternatives To Baby Walkers?
Play yards or playpens and stationary activity centers are safer alternatives to a baby walker and are known to boost a baby’s physical development without causing any risks. Stationary activity centers are like walkers with no wheels and can be used for a few hours every day.
You can get these activity centers when the baby is around eight months old (5). Play yards can be used for babies of any age since the baby can sit, stand, lie down or try to walk in them safely.
Baby walkers are not safe at any age. Your baby will learn to stand and walk when they are ready to do so. Rushing through it cannot help them attain a milestone earlier. Therefore, using a walker is not a good idea.
What alternative have you chosen to baby walkers? Tell us in the comments section below.
2. Baby Walkers: A Dangerous Choice; American Academy of Pediatrics (2008)
3. Voluntary Standards – Baby Walkers; US CPSC (2008)
4. Al-Nouri L, Al-Isami S.; Baby walker injuries; Ann Trop Paediatr. (2006)
5. Movement: 8 to 12 Months; American Academy of Pediatrics (2009)
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