Time was that if you wanted to give a gift to parents of an infant, a baby walker would be a safe bet. After all it is something that is supposed to help a child become mobile and independent and at the same time keep him or her out of trouble.
However in recent times, the baby walker has received a lot of bad press with many experts claiming that a baby walker is not only superfluous, but also a hindrance to the child learning to walk unassisted. There are also studies to show that baby walkers could actually be dangerous.
So what is the truth about baby walkers?
To begin with there could be certain benefits of a baby walker because a baby may enjoy being mobile in this way. Also parents may feel that the baby is less likely to get up to mischief such as pulling and throwing things when safely ensconced in a walker. Many walkers have built in toys, activities and rattles to keep the baby amused. So it does seem like a good idea to have a baby walker around.
However there are obvious dangers of a baby walker: stairs, uneven surfaces or a pool can present genuine dangers for a baby in a walker. Tipping over, falling, getting hurt or drowning are just some of the scenarios possible.
Even when the home doesn’t have a pool or accessible stairs, leaving a child unsupervised in a walker is a bad idea, since babies constantly surprise us by finding new and innovative ways to get into trouble; ways we may never have envisaged. Even bumping into furniture or shelves can have disastrous consequences.
Then there is the fact that the legs are forced into an unnatural bow shaped position in a walker. This may actually delay and hamper the natural development of balance and unassisted walking.
Putting a baby in a walker will also stifle his or her natural instinct for exploration. This can frustrate the child and may also come in the way of the child developing manual skills.
What is a good alternative to baby walkers?
Experts recommend a push toy as being a better alternative to baby walkers. This helps the child’s legs bear the body’s weight in a more natural position. They prevent the pelvic tilt that walkers tend to cause. Push toys also come equipped with a lot of gadgets, toys and games to keep the baby occupied.