First time parents are usually overwhelmed when it comes to prepping for their little one. From clothes to baby toys, this prepping phase involves each and everything.
It is a popular notion that walkers are an essential baby accessory; however, recent studies have proved otherwise. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has asked for a ban on the manufacturing and sales of baby walkers. Along with this, they have also advised parents to throw away a walker if they have one.
What Are Baby Walkers?
Designed to be used by children from 15 months to 5 years of age, infant walkers are wheeled devices with a seat in the center where your baby can sit. The seat allows your baby’s feet to touch the ground which gives him the opportunity to move around.
Why Are Walkers Bad for Babies?
Parents consider walkers as an essential accessory which helps their baby learn how to walk; however, using a walker delays independent walking. Before we move forward, let’s see what are some of the milestones babies achieve before they finally learn how to walk.
These milestones are:
- Crawling on the floor
- Pulling themselves up
- Moving around with the help of furniture
Walking is not just about using your legs, it is about standing up and taking steps without any support. When babies are made to sit in walkers, they lose their time on the floor and hence, the process of learning to walk gets delayed.
When babies crawl on the floor, they pull themselves up which helps them learn how to balance. However, if they keep using walkers, the process of learning how to maintain balance also gets delayed.
Being in a walker also means using toes which leads to tightening leg muscles resulting in delayed walking. Once babies are out of the walker, they want to use their toes which is not how they learn how to walk.
Along with all of this, one of the major reasons parents should avoid using walkers is that walker injuries can happen without any warning. A child sitting in the walker can tumble down the stairs, pull things down on him, roll into a swimming pool, grab a candle, reach for an oven, etc. This basically means that a walker makes it easy for them to access things that are otherwise inaccessible.
There are thousands of children who get injured while using a walker. According to a study in The Journal of Pediatrics, from 1990 to 2014 over 230,000 children, who were less than 15 months old, were treated for injuries that were caused by walkers.
What Are Some Safe Alternatives?
There is no right age for baby walkers. Instead of walkers, it is suggested you use other safe alternatives like stationary play devices. A simple way to keep your child safe while you are doing household chores is placing your baby on a high chair.
Other options are making a play area in your baby’s room using baby gates, use of a playpen, etc. Even if you use these alternative methods, pediatricians suggest that you still keep your child in sight at all times.
Based on all the research, it is suggested you avoid using baby walkers and switch to safer alternatives. Not only will it keep your baby safe but also facilitate your child’s motor development.
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