Information You Can Find in Our Guide:
Are Walkers Bad for Your Baby?
The information provided on this page is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health care professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.
You may have purchased or received a baby walker to aid in the development of your child, as walkers have been a commonly used staple in every parent’s life for the last few decades. The intent of a baby walker is to assist your child when he or she is learning to walk, as it allows your baby to move freely about your home by taking steps to propel the device. However, in recent years, researchers and doctors have concluded these baby walkers are potentially harmful to your children for several different reasons.
Information You Can Find in Our Guide:
Recent studies have shown not only can the walker prove to be harmful to your child, but it may also slow your child’s development as he or she begins the process of learning how to walk. You may want to consider the prospect of removing all baby walkers from your home or at least developing safer methods of using the walker if you wish to retain the device in your child’s routine.
Potential Dangers of Using A Walker for Your Baby
The primary reason walkers are bad for your baby is the danger they pose to the overall safety of your child. While it may initially seem like a good idea to allow your baby to have free reign of the house or yard in his or her walker, making this decision can place your child into sudden danger. Approximately one in 10 babies has suffered a head injury due to a walker-related incident.
Your baby has the potential to travel up to four feet in a matter of moments when strapped into a walker, which allows for plenty of time for accidents to take place. Your child may:
- Walk themselves over to a set of stairs and fall.
- Get a finger stuck in a doorway when wandering around the house.
- Wander into the road in a matter of seconds if you are prone to leaving your baby in the walker while outside completing chores.
While you can diligently watch your child to prevent these accidents from occurring, he or she may move too quickly in the walker, which can diminish your response time considerably. Recent developments have helped to reduce the amount of danger your baby may be in while using a walker. If you choose to utilize this device, it is best to select a walker within the new safety guidelines.
Manufacturers have developed a wider walker than previous models. The wider model helps prevent your child from moving too far into your home, as he or she is not able to pass through doorways in the larger model. Additional developments include grips or brakes on the walker to prevent your child from falling down the stairs, tipping into the toilet or falling into the street or pool when walking outdoors. Newer models are more expensive, but the safety features are worth the additional price.
Developmental Issues Attributed to Walker Usage
Not only can a walker place your baby into dangerous situations, but it may also impede his or her development through repeated usage. Studies have shown decreased development in children who were placed into walkers versus children who did not use a walker or were placed into stationary activity centers.
Babies who spent extensive time in a walker may learn to crawl and walk later than babies who did not spend time in walkers. Some children involved in this study who spent time in a walker displayed a slower development in terms of motor and mental skills. This may lead to children needing additional resources later in life.
You may believe you are increasing your child’s ability to walk by placing them in a walker, but in reality, you may be slowing down their natural development in doing so. While it is not guaranteed your child may develop slower or score lower on motor skills scales and mental development scales simply because he or she has repeatedly used a walker, it is still a real possibility to consider. If you have been using a walker for your baby and you have noticed he or she is having trouble walking or crawling independently, you may want to consider purchasing a stationary activity center to help promote your child’s development.
How to Stay Safe If You Want to Use Your Baby’s Walker
Some parents may choose to use a walker for their baby regardless of the potential dangers or development issues. This may be especially true for families on a fixed budget who also believe that a walker is not a problem.
You are well within your parental rights to make this decision based upon observation of your child and how he or she interacts with the walker and develops due to the presence of the walker. There are several steps you can take to ensure your baby is remaining safe in a walker if you choose to continue using this device.
The main thing you can do to increase your child’s safety while in a walker is to keep your baby in a confined area where you can keep an eye on him or her. In doing so, you are lessening the scope of potential dangers by thwarting your baby’s attempt to navigate from one room to another.
While you may still impede your child’s developmental ability by using a walker, you can decrease the potential for an accident by purchasing a walker with the appropriate safety features. You must be diligent about removing potential dangers from any room your child may wander into while using the walker if you want to allow him or her to have the ability to travel from one room to another. Pick up any dangling cords and place them out of reach of your child.
Prevent your baby from walking through doorways with door hinges as this can prevent him or her from getting a finger stuck in the door. Do not allow your child to travel out of eyesight when you are placing them in a walker outside and be sure to place a safety gate around your pool to prevent the threat of drowning. Finally, be diligent in checking the walker itself to make sure it does not become damaged if your child frequently bumps it against other objects.