Is a baby walker good or bad? What to know before purchasing one
Fact-checked by MFine | Last Updated : November 7th, 2019
Baby walkers for your baby can have its pros and cons. If you are wondering whether your baby will benefit from them, read on to know the real deal before you make your purchase.
Babies are full of curiosity and are eager to explore the world around them. As your baby continues to grow and become more mobile, it can be challenging for you to be able to keep an eye on them every second of the day. Baby walkers were first introduced as a convenient way for parents to keep their babies entertained and safely contained. These walkers usually involve some kind of support for a baby to hold onto and sometimes even small toys to keep them amused. Of late, however, baby walkers have been at the receiving end of some bad press, with several parents expressing their concerns over baby push walker safety. If you are wondering whether a baby push walker is good or bad, here are a few important points to help you make a decision.
Can a baby push walker cause accidents?Babies have an urge to move about as quickly as they can and are unable to coordinate all their limbs yet. The combination of both these factors plays a huge role in why baby walkers are considered dangerous. In a walker, your baby can move very fast, often faster than a parent can react. Babies can crash into furniture, topple over a toy, reach for a burning candle or even fall down a flight of stairs. Over 23,000 such accidents have been reported in Canada before push walkers were banned. Responding to these complaints, many manufacturers are now taking care to include baby push walker safety features,
Can a baby walker help your baby to start walking?Some parents feel that one of baby walker advantages is that it helps baby learn to walk faster. Moms used to find them an easy way to keep their baby occupied while they were busy with other things. Actually, the opposite is true; once a baby learns to move about with help, they might not try to learn to walk on their own. After all, walking by themselves will often involve them falling down and having to pick themselves up again repeatedly. When they have it easy with a walker, why do it the hard way? So if you are wondering whether a baby walker is good or bad for walking, the answer is that it mostly likely isn’t. A walker will not teach them to balance themselves and because of this, they will be delayed in learning to take their first steps unaided. One of the reasons for delayed motor development is the fact that babies cannot see their legs when they are in a walker When babies can see their legs, they learn what kind of movement will help them to stand still, start walking and later, start running.
Are baby walkers bad for babies hips?While walkers help your baby pack in more physical activity throughout the day, they strengthen the wrong muscles. When using a walker, your baby’s lower legs become strong while the hip and upper body get weak. Since the hips are most important for walking, this can further delay this important developmental milestone for your baby. In fact, the effect that walkers have on the hips has been one of the biggest safety concerns about them, leading several countries to ban their sale.
What do the experts say?Several paediatricians believe that baby walkers can disturb a baby’s normal developmental journey. They say that parents put babies into walkers at the time they are learning to crawl. Babies need to crawl, roll on the floor, sit on their haunches and pull themselves up. All this strengthens the muscles that they will use for walking. Crawling is the most important stage and the longer baby crawls the more she will learn. It needs both hemispheres of the brain to coordinate and so it also helps a baby develop a sense of space and depth perception as well as hone their problem-solving skills. Parents feel proud when their baby achieves their milestones early, However, every baby has its own timeline and parents must trust their baby to know when to progress to the next stage.
Baby push walker safety featuresManufacturers have started responding to the ‘baby push walkers good or bad’ debate among parents. Some brands have included new features to improve baby push walker safety. Many walkers have a non-skid friction pad which prevents the walker from toppling. There are also stationary walkers for babies to sit in while their parents are busy with chores. This prevents the baby from using it to walk. Some walkers also have an auto-lock feature on the wheels that will allow it to be stationary if you want it to be. The play tray on the front of the walker will keep your baby entertained for a while, giving you some much-needed rest. Therefore, keeping a baby in a walker for a little while is alright as long as it has safety features.
Are baby walkers good or bad: the final verdictWhile baby push walker safety features have improved considerably, they can still cause several developmental delays in your child. As a parent, you will have to take the final call. Just remember to never leave baby unsupervised if you decide to use a walker. Also, don’t keep your baby sitting in a walker for too long. Try to limit the time to half an hour intervals and then let them back on the ground, unfettered. It is also not safe to let your baby fall asleep in it. A walker will never help your baby to walk faster; he will have to learn that through trial and error. What it can do is keep them occupied for a while. If you decide to get a walker, make sure to read all the safety features available. Also keep in mind that old baby walkers of older siblings are best not used as they might not have the new safety features. If you have more questions regarding your baby’s development, book an instant consultation with the city's top paediatricians on mfine.
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