Baby walkers might appear as if they help facilitate walking. Parents also like keeping a baby contained so they can work on other projects around the house. Baby walkers, though, do have several disadvantages. As a matter of fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has called for a ban on baby walkers since 1995 due to a high incidence of baby injuries.
Healthy Children says that parents think that using walkers will help children walk soon; however, they don't. As a matter of fact, Brainy Child, a site devoted to children's brain development, says that babies in walkers can't see their legs, so they lack the visual feedback that shows how their body is working while it's moving. In addition, babies who use baby walkers tend to reach their developmental milestones later. Babies who hadn't used a walker at all scored the highest in development. Those who used walkers that allowed them to see their feet did second best, and babies who used walkers that didn't allow them to see their feet scored worst on development tests.
Healthy Children says that children in baby walkers have an increased risk of the following: rolling down the stairs, burning themselves, drowning and being poisoned. Rolling down the stairs is the most common cause of injury with baby walkers, Health Children says. Even if parents are supervising the child, injuries can still happen, as a walker can move three feet in one second, Healthy Children says. With the incidence of injuries, baby walker manufacturers have made a few safety improvements, such as a wider frame that can't fit through doors and brakes that prevent the baby walkers from falling down the stairs.
If parents are seeking an alternative station to entertain their children, they can opt for a stationary play centre instead or a simple playpen or play yard.
Increased Back Pain Risk
An increased use of baby walkers and stationary activity centres prevents babies from developing a natural balance. Babies in these devices arch their back in an unusual way, according Pediatric Services, an intervention site that deals with developmental delays. This particular posture has the potential to cause back pain in adults. In addition, children in these devices tend to walk on pointed feet, which can contribute to back pain as well.
Instead of using a walker, parents can simply give babies tummy time, which allows them to develop their neck, back and abdominal muscles. If walkers must be used, they should only be used for 20 minutes a day, Pediatric Services says.