A baby walker is a baby sling that is suspended on a rigid frame on wheels. Baby walkers allow your baby to sit in the seat and move around before he is able to move independently.
Baby walkers are generally thought of as unsafe for babies because:
- A baby walker will enable your baby to move around quickly so that he can get into danger easily.
- Baby’s don’t have the ability to judge what is safe and what isn’t.
- Baby walkers pose an unusual threat to your baby’s safety if you have stairs in the house. Many children have sustained head injuries as a result of pitching down steps in a baby walker.
- A baby who spends all his time in a baby walker will not develop the muscle control he needs to roll, sit, crawl and walk.
- A baby walker will teach your baby to use the balls of his feet to propel him along – this can be difficult to ‘unlearn’ when he begins to walk.
- When a baby crawls and pulls himself up while holding on to furniture he is making the muscles needed for walking stronger, and learning about balance.
- Your baby needs to learn how to balance himself before he can learn to walk and a baby walker will slow down this process.
Sales of baby walkers:
Attempts are being made to prevent the sale of baby walkers in New Zealand because of their danger. In 2004 Canada banned the sale and importation of baby walkers. New Zealand is seeking a similar ban. Plunket discourages the use of baby walkers
Using a baby walker safely:
If you do decide to use a baby walker, make sure that:
- The environment your baby is in is safe for him – move any furniture that may be dangerous, secure all cords and gate all stairs.
- Choose a walker that has a wide base so that it can’t tip easily. Also check that it is lockable so that you can make the wheels rigid.
- Always supervise your baby when he’s in a baby walker – and only allow him a small time in it each time you use it.
- Don’t use a baby walker before your baby can sit unassisted, or after he can walk.
This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot. Sources include SA Government’s Parenting and Child Health.