You know the story: one friend has strongly advised you against a baby walker citing reasons of safety and being superfluous; whereas your aunt swears by the baby walker as convenient and useful item that she used for all 4 of her children.
It’s enough to confuse any well meaning parent, who wants to know the real position on baby walkers is. Does it in fact teach kids to walk early, does it retard that progress? Is it safe or are there hazards involved?
Here are some pros of a baby walker:
- The walker can help baby move about in an upright position; may offer greater mobility.
- The baby may find it novel, interesting and amusing. He or she may enjoy the feeling of independence and the ability to see things from a different angle. The child may be content to be in the walker and amuse him or herself.
- It could keep baby busy and out of trouble if he or she is in a walker and unable to access certain corners and items of the house.
- As long as you supervise baby’s use of the walker and keep in mind safety issues it is safe to use. Make sure that the gate at the top of the stairs is securely shut. Keep out of reach any appliances and cords or wires that the baby walker can get caught up in or can trip on. Toilets, baths, pools and other water sources should be out of bounds.
Cons of a baby walker:
- The fear of injury is the most significant reason why baby walkers are frowned upon. An estimated 14,000 children under age 15 months have sustained significant injuries as a result of baby walker use. Injuries similar to those resulting from cribs, playpens, high chairs, and changing tables can happen due to walker use.
- It does not ‘teach’ your child to walk. It does not hurry the walking milestones.
- It prevents your child from crawling, which can teach certain motor skills to a baby, as well as improves depth and distance perception.
- It can teach a child to walk on the tiptoes which may be detrimental because it hinders development of the Achilles tendon and proper balance in the child. The independent walking style that is developed later could be abnormal at times.
Taking into account the pros and cons a parent is the best person to decide whether a baby walker is a good idea or bad one for them. There are no overriding cons that prevent use; similarly there are no overwhelming pros to necessitate use.