walkers, baby

Baby walkers were once a standard item of equipment in baby care. This has changed in recent years.

The use of walkers is responsible for numerous significant injuries to babies, especially due to tipping, falling down stairs, as well as suffocation caused when a baby slipped down through the leg holes in the walker seat.

More recently designed walkers have large, opaque plastic trays to help prevent tipping accidents (the child cannot see any interesting objects on the floor to reach down for them), as well as smaller leg holes which prevent slipping through and entrapment. However, even these new walkers have problems.

According to recently published research1, use of the tip-resistant opaque tray walkers causes significant developmental delays in babies. It is thought that the developing brain needs literally to see the feet - that is, get visual feedback about the position of the feet to successfully learn to walk. Not only are motor milestones delayed, but scores of mental development are delayed long after walker use is terminated. Walkers just are not a good idea any more.

1 Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 1999:20:355-361.

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