The ‘(in)convenience’ of baby walkers


Accidents do not just happen; they are caused, either by man's act of commission or omission ~ Ernest Greenwood (paraphrased)

Source: discountmugs.com 
Baby walkers have come in very handy to a good number of parents in the past and even now. I guess some of us also used them as babies. I have heard concerns about the dangers of these baby walkers lately, and thought to do a bit more research on them. So I bring you my findings J:

I will begin with the advantages:
  • Baby walkers have toys that provide entertainment to babies. And because babies love these toys, they are kept engaged / focused for a while. Some parents /caregivers use this as a form of babysitting while they 'quickly' attend to other things. 
  • It is also ‘believed’ that baby walkers help children maintain balance as they learn to take their first steps.
Then the disadvantages:
  • Babies are active and so eager to move about, and walkers enable them to do so very easily. Studies show that many babies will not try to crawl or scoot around when they are constantly in walkers; this may cause them to miss an important part of stamina development. In essence, health professionals believe that using walkers stunts muscle growth and coordination, and slows down baby's development.
  • Accidents could result from walkers tipping over when they bump into an obstruction or fall down stairs, or when babies try to reach out to grab objects. Due to concerns about these injuries, Canada banned the sale of baby walkers since 2004 (there is a fine of up to $100,000 or a 6-month jail term for offenders).

Now my opinion:
I am more inclined to agree with the studies showing they are not very safe.  In the absence of statistics in Nigeria, it is difficult to discount the fact that among baby products, baby walkers have been a major cause of injury for babies in the US. Although I would say caregivers not paying attention to babies play a major role here.

There is also the issue of the walkers slowing development; but then again one could argue that many kids (including a lot of us reading this) have turned out well despite using the walkers.Things are changing a lot these days, and we are starting to become aware of the dangers of these products that we grew up using and trusting. 

If you are currently using walkers or must use walkers however, please bear the following in mind:
  • Use walkers that have a wider base and braking system (most modern walkers come with this now, but please look out for them). The wide base prevents babies from being able to push the walkers through most standard doorways, and limits their ability to reach and grab on to objects that should be out of their reach. The brakes help prevent tipping over when they hit a toy or other objects;
  • Limit the amount of time your child spends in walkers, so they can get to develop their stamina through other activities like learning to crawl etc. I think the greater danger here however is not just in using the walker, but letting your child stay in one position for a long time. It will be just as bad if the child spent the entire time on their backs in a cot or in a car seat.
  • Most importantly, remember that paying attention to your baby is very important, so try not to use the baby walkers as babysitters while your attention is turned on to something else. Injuries (from falling off stairs or tipping over) can still occur whether babies are in a walker or not if they are not being monitored.
Like I said in an earlier post, understand what your parenting style is, and what works for you. Many things in walker designs have changed to reduce their risks, but it is still up to the parent to decide whether they need to use it or not.

In concluding, ask yourself if the benefits from using baby walkers outweigh the potential dangers that could arise from their use? 
Please share your comments

The Baby Analyst. J

Not a doctor, just a financial analyst who loves kids

Comments

lynn Davies said…
Wow...who would have thought, yet again; everything come with its advantages and disadvantages but I would never have thought of it slowing down muscle development. That rules out walkers for me. Thanks TBA
True Lynn. We are starting to be aware of a lot of things we didn't know hitherto.
Thanks for your comment.

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