Some parents think that baby walkers help a child learn to walk sooner. Baby walkers do not help your baby to walk earlier. In fact, they can delay learning to walk. The muscles used to move a walker are different than the muscles a child uses to walk on his own. Babies in walkers tend to walk on tiptoe, which can tighten heel and leg muscles. This means they do not strengthen the muscle groups they need for sitting, crawling, and walking.
Parents also use walkers as a way to entertain and stimulate their children. Children can be entertained in other ways or placed in a safer piece of equipment. A stationary activity center is much safer than a walker. Stationary activity centers look like walkers, but without the wheels. They allow children to bounce, rock, spin, and play with lights, sounds, and objects on the center. Playpens, infant swings, and high chairs with wide bases are other ways to keep your child safe and happy.
Many countries do not allow the sale of baby walkers. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that walkers not be sold in the United States because:
Each year thousands of children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for walker-related injuries. Walker injuries can be serious, such as:
Babies can also get into cleaners or medicines they could not normally reach, which can result in poisoning.
Adult supervision is not always enough to prevent injuries from a walker. Most baby walker injuries happen while at least one parent is at home watching the child. A baby in a walker can move at a speed of 3 feet per second. This is much faster than a baby can move on his own. Baby walkers put children at higher risk for injury because the child can move around faster and reach higher objects. Babies can also climb out of the walker seat as they get older, resulting in a fall. Before you choose a child care facility, make sure they do not use baby walkers.
If you choose to use a baby walker, make sure that you: