I remember when my daughter first started walking, I was such a blubbering mess. Those first steps are an emotional time for any parent…
…and then you realize they look like a drunken sailor.
But before long, they get their bearings and start to be able to walk more steadily. You might be thinking that a baby walker is a great idea to help them get a headstart, plus they make it more safe for them and keep them from falling so often. Bruises and bumps are a rite of passage for every toddler on their road to walking, but why not help them out?
You should know that many organizations recommend against the use of baby walkers.
There are dangerous involved and injuries have happened because of parents leaving their kids unattended while using their walker. You’ll hear a lot of differing opinions on both sides of the issue, and I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not to use one.
The argument against baby walkers.
There are two main arguments against the use of baby walkers; they’re reported to be both dangerous and cause developmental issues.
The danger of the walkers is mostly due to misuse and neglect by the parents themselves, I’m sorry to say. You just can’t leave your baby unattended in the walker; this has lead to children falling down stairs, pulling things on top of them (a toddler can understand “don’t do that!” but an infant can’t).
The big problem is that walkers allow children mobility beyond their natural capability; they’re just not developmentally ready to be on 2 legs around the time we put them in walkers. Falls are common, and falling even such a short distance can be terribly dangerous to the delicate baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reported that in 1999, an estimated 8800 children were treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to using baby walkers.
That’s a shocking number.
Experts believe that baby walkers also lead to developmental delays. Somewhere around 6 months of age, babies get the urge to become mobile.
This is a challenge for them, and it takes all of their muscles in both their arms and legs to scoot, crawl and eventually get upright on two feet.
The problem with walkers is that they eliminate a lot of the struggle for them, so they don’t get that much-needed use of their arms and legs.
So, now what? Should you use a baby walker? In my opinion, you shouldn’t; a stationary activity center is a much safer alternative. Since walkers don’t actually help your baby walk any faster (in fact, the opposite) a stationary one is a much better choice in my opinion.
Need more convincing?
These experts also agree that walkers are an awful idea and should be avoided.
Injuries that can happen if you use a walker.
- Falling down the stairs. This is an obvious worst-case scenario, and it has happened more than once. If you put them in their walker upstairs, and then walk near the edge of the staircase, they will roll over and down the stairs. This is the most common injury.
- Rolling over. Walkers are not always the most stable of devices, and an unsteady baby in a walker is a recipe for disaster. If the walker picks up speed, there’s a good possiblity that baby won’t be able to maintain control.
- Reaching for dangerous objects. When baby is using a walker, they can reach higher and farther than if they didn’t have one. This means that dangerous objects are closer, and things like hot coffee can be pulled down on them, or sharp knives can find their way into baby’s curious hands.
My recommended alternative: an activity center.
Activity centers are a way better alternative to walkers in my opinion.
The lack of wheels means they won’t be getting anywhere you don’t want them to be, so you can be sure that they’ll be safe. Read our guide on choosing an activity center; it’s the much safer option.
Please don’t leave your child unattended.
While sometimes we just can’t help having to get away to take out the trash or have a shower, you should never leave your child alone in an activity center.
You’re better off putting them in something like a playpen or playard, and even then you really shouldn’t do it for too long.