Helpful or Hinderance: How Safe Are Baby Walkers?

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As your infant begins to crawl, you might be considering getting them a walker. But are baby walkers safe? Not according to the experts. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has called for a ban on the manufacture and sale of baby walkers with wheels in the United States. Why?

Kids Walkers Cause Injuries

Baby walkers with wheels enable babies to move at 3 feet per second. At that speed, a baby can be in serious trouble before you have time to respond. Thousands of babies are rushed to the emergency room for walker-related injuries every year. The majority of those injuries are caused by infants rolling down stairs. Babies may also roll into swimming pools or driveways. They can roll into the path of other people, causing tripping accidents. Even newer models, which are too large to fit through doorways and have brakes, can still cause injuries. Walkers give an infant additional height, making it possible to grab pot handles, cords, and other dangerous things normally out of reach. There really are no safe baby walkers.

Baby Walkers Impede Development

Rather than helping your baby learn to walk, recent research suggests walkers may actually slow your child's development. When a baby is learning to walk, it is also developing its balance and large motor skills. Walkers remove the need to develop those very important skills. Babies using walkers also tend to move around on tiptoe, neglecting the muscles needed for crawling, sitting and walking. There are no proven developmental benefits to using a walker.

Other Options

Are baby walkers safe? Not really. It's best not to use a walker for your baby. Like many parents, you may have considered using a walker as a way to keep your baby active and occupied without being underfoot and in danger of being stepped on or tripped over. Luckily, there are a lot of other, safer options that fill those needs. Consider using a stationary activity center, play yard or playpen. These will allow your baby to play safely and be out of harm’s way. If you do choose to let your child use a walker, only use the most recent models which have brakes and are designed to be too wide for doorways. Always keep your baby within arm’s reach when using a walker and never let them sit in one unattended.

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