Baby walkers might seem the answer to every frazzled parent’s problem. This “problem” is a busybody baby who wants to explore everything and everywhere. You might even be wondering right now what the right time for baby walker is, to keep your tot in one place.
Well parents, there is no right time for baby walker, say paediatricians. This is because these gadgets can cause more harm than good to babies.
No right time for baby walker: Your baby might look super cute in a baby walker. But paediatricians are urging you NOT to use one.
No Right Time for Baby Walker, No Benefits to Baby’s Development
In the USA and elsewhere around the world, hospital emergency rooms treat thousands of babies each year for injuries from baby walkers. There was even a near-death reported last year, from Hong Kong.
According to a study in the journal Pediatrics published Monday 17 September, “over 200,000 children under 15 months old were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments for skull fractures, concussions, broken bones and other injuries related to infant walkers from 1990 through 2014.”
Now, frustrated with dealing with these preventable injuries, paediatricians are urgently calling for a ban on baby walkers.
Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, is a paediatrician who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention.
He says, “I view infant walkers as inherently dangerous objects that have no benefit whatsoever and should not be sold in the U.S.”
What Does a Walker Do?
A walker is designed to help a baby who cannot walk yet, move. These gadgets are usually equipped with bright lights, and four wheels for mobilisation.
However, moving without control on four wheels instead of on their own feet can set babies straight in the path of danger. Many of them end up banging into walls or sharp edges of furniture, or even tumbling down stairs.
Back in 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission called for more safety features on walkers, such as brakes. While these helped reduce the number of injuries, thousands of children still ended up in hospital.
“There are still 2,000 children a year being treated for injuries [from baby walkers], many of them serious injuries, in emergency departments,” says Dr. Gary Smith, the Pediatrics study’s senior author.
“Therefore, we support the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics that baby walkers should not be sold or used. There’s absolutely no reason these products should still be on the market.”
A baby walker can obstruct a baby’s proper physical development.
A Baby Walker Can Harm a Baby’s Development
Some who use or advocate baby walkers believe they can assist in a baby’s development, especially related to walking.
But pushing a child to walk before their body is actually ready for it can cause more hindrance to development than benefits.
Paediatrician David Gellar explains that in fact, babies who use a walker might actually walk a month later than those who do not.
A baby learns to walk when his muscles, balance and coordination are strong enough for it, and also by observing and understanding how their feet and legs move.
When in a baby walker, a baby’s view of their feet and legs is obstructed by the tray. And so proper development of a baby’s motor skills is also obstructed.
Add to this the high risk of injuries and it’s quite clear why paediatricans are so against the use of baby walkers.
Teach Your Baby to Walk Without Baby Walkers
It’s now quite clear there is no right time for baby walker, when it comes to teaching little ones how to get mobile.
Here are some tips to help encourage your baby to walk without the use of this gadget:
• Let her sit without any assistance
Have your child sit on a stool without any back support and assistance. But make sure you are nearby to keep your baby safe. Your child’s feet should be able to touch the floor so she can push against it with her hips and knees at a perpendicular angle.
Once she achieves this position, ask her to pick up a toy on the floor and then sit back on the stool. You can try various placements of the toys to improve your little one’s reach and various muscles.
By performing this activity, your baby is encouraged to move her feet apart for stability. At the same time, she exerts weight on her feet, improving her leg, shoulder, and back muscles.
• Show things to catch her interest
By doing this, your little child is encouraged to move her head and neck which can strengthen her back muscles. Do keep in mind that aside from leg muscles, back muscles have a pivotal role in helping babies walk.
Another thing parents can do to strengthen their children’s back muscles is to let them lie on their stomachs. That way, babies can learn how to control their muscles, allowing them to start walking more quickly.
• Provide push or pull toys
Push or pull toys are more than just toys; they play a big part in helping babies walk. With these toys, young children can learn how to stand up, move, and maintain their balance.
Babies will be encouraged to play them since they come with music and lights that are totally entertaining. Provide at least one or two of these toys, and soon you will see your child standing on her own without assistance, improving her confidence and ability to walk.
• Let her walk barefoot
Socks and shoes serve as your child’s first line of defence against cold and rough objects on the floor. But if you want your baby to start walking quickly, it’s best to let her feet left bare.
This is because your little one’s bare feet can hold onto the surface much better, unlike when she’s wearing socks and shoes.
Also, when your baby wears shoes, make sure that you check her feet to see if there’s any irritation. If you find one, it’s best to get rid of those shoes and look for a better pair that can help her focus on walking without experiencing skin issues.
• Assist your child’s walking
When your baby begins to walk, make sure you know how to assist her. Just stand behind, hold your hands around her upper arms, and have her stand up by pulling one of her arms forward.
As soon as your little one rotates her hips to take a step, her feet will naturally follow. Always apply these procedures when your child is practicing walking until she no longer needs your assistance.
References: NPR, Pediatrics