'No beneficial function': The reason you should never let your baby use a walker
There are cute pictures of me as a baby in the Eighties - with me sitting delighted and smiling in a baby walker.
In the end, and some 30 years later, I never actually got one for my own kids. That was primarily because when my daughter was born five years ago, we lived in an apartment and a walker just wasn't practical.
However, I read recently that walkers are now a seriously controversial accessory - with plenty of experts warning parents to avoid them entirely.
Indeed, following research the European Child Safety Alliance released a statement in October 2010 stating that babies using walkers are at a much higher risk of:
- Head injury
The organisation added that "baby walkers serve no beneficial function for children," and that "baby walkers do not help babies learn to walk - they may, in fact, hold up walking ability rather than help it".
The statement went on to recommend that:
- Parents and caregivers use safer alternatives to baby walkers such as playpens and stationary activity centres.
- Health care providers do not promote baby walker usage.
- Health care providers educate parents early about the risks of baby walker use.
In hindsight, of course, a baby placed in a walker is more likely to fall down stairs. And of course, the devices allow little ones to reach things - including boiling kettles or a frying pan - that they ordinarily wouldn't be able to. Furthermore, it makes sense that a baby will be less inclined to walk unaided if they're used to a walker.
In Ireland, the HSE has expressed its own concern about the injuries "caused by the use of this non-essential product".
It goes without saying that careful, ongoing supervision is vital when you have children - especially so if they're using the likes of a walker. That's because a child in a baby walker can reach speeds of one metre per second... much faster than an adult can react to prevent an injury.