There has always been a debate between whether baby walkers are safe or not. The position of the American Academy of Pediatrics is clear though. In their fact sheet ‘Baby Walkers are Dangerous!‘ they advise that you should ‘throw away your baby walker’ based on the fact that:
- Baby walkers send more than 14,000 children to the hospital every year, and
- 34 children have died since 1973 because of baby walkers.
The AAP is trying to ban the manufacturing and selling of baby walkers.
So, are they safe?
According to the AAP statistics many kids are injured while using the walker.
Said injuries include:
- falls, especially down stairs (any person with common sense wouldn’t leave a baby on a walker near stairs without a gate)
- pinch injuries to fingers and toes (these are suffered more by the people who actually walk around; my toes and ankles get run over lots of times)
- burns (don’t leave hot cups of coffee or tea laying around the house! Child proofing your house doesn’t only apply to putting cushion things around the table)
poisonings (not applicable, same with crawling; baby will grab stuff)
- drowning (same as with falls; unattended babies, whether on a walker or crawling or even walking, and pools just don’t go together. It’s called common sense, people!)
Most of these injuries aren’t because the walker itself is dangerous, but only that it makes your child more mobile, which can cause injuries if your house isn’t well childproofed.
More mobile? So, what does the AAP have to say about crawling babies? What about toddlers who walk and run? They are mobile, and they can still get injured just like with a walker. Should we strap them to a chair to avoid injuries?
Will they help your infant learn to walk sooner?
I have heard that it doesn’t help at all and I understand where this is coming from. The baby is not actually walking but pushing the walker with his whole body while leaning forward. This is why it is said that a baby who used a walker took longer to learn to walk than if he hadn’t used a one.
In my personal case, Alexander used a walker and he took his first steps when he was 7 months old, and he was walking all by himself at 9 months. This makes me wonder, does this mean that, since he used a walker when little, he would have walked earlier than 7 months old of age? That would have been scary!
Jake is using a walker as well. He is 7 months old and he is going to be taking his first steps pretty soon (as soon as he lets go off the couch!). He loves to walk around the couch and the coffee table.
It is, of course, your own decision to make whether you’ll let your baby use a walker or not. You’ll have to take your precautions just like with everything that surrounds you. I personally have nothing against walkers.
* This is my personal opinion. If anything I said offended someone I apologize.