Approximately 50% of infants will use some form of a baby walker. Many parents think baby walkers are a blessing, but research is saying the opposite.
Possible Delayed Motor Development
Research has shown that baby walkers delay the motor development of infants. Many different studies have shown that children who use walkers, sat, crawled and walked later than their peers who didn’t use walkers.
Most walkers contain a large tray in the front which inhibits the infant from seeing their legs and feet as they move. This deprives the baby of the visual feedback that helps them learn to move through space. Also, as babies learn to walk, they grab things around them, which help them learn about their environment. Walkers also inhibit this because the infant cannot grasp objects as they are walking in the walker. There is still more research needed in this area. But this research along with safety issues could be a cause to stop using walkers.
Baby Walker Injuries
In 1999, in the United States alone, 8800 children under age of 15 months were treated in emergency rooms from baby walker injuries. The most common cause of injuries resulted from falls down stairs subsequently injuring the head.
Although most injuries are minor such as bumps and bruises, more serious injuries can occur. Many times parents put their infants in walkers to entertain them, so the parent can get some work done. Proper supervision is essential if using a baby walker.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents not to use baby walkers should not be used for several reasons. Walkers do not teach the child how to walk, and can delay motor and mental development. The American Academy of Pediatrics also states that the injuries caused from walkers warrant a recommendation for a ban on the manufacture of the product.
A Chiropractor’s View
It is abnormal and unnatural for a child to be upright, weight-bearing and bipedal before learning to sit, crawl and stand. The child’s nervous system and spine need to go through developmental milestones in order and skipping certain milestones or introducing milestones too early can have an impact on their motor and mental development as well as their spinal development.
Parents should ask questions of their family chiropractor on the use of baby walkers if they have any further questions.