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Are Baby Walkers Safe For Infants?
Despite the popularity of baby walkers, pediatricians are against using them for infants. In fact, AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) are calling for an end to the making and selling the devices in USA. In Canada, the equipment has been banned since 2004. This is after they found out how dangerous walkers are for babies.
Every year thousands of children younger than 15 months old are hospitalized due to injuries caused by baby walkers. This includes life threatening accidents such as: fractures, concussions, dislocations, burns, poisoning, and drowning. The devices enable infants to move freely around a room. Increasing their risk to: (1) Reaching hazards, objects like scissors, coins, or a hot cup of coffee. (2) Slipping down the stairs. (3) Bumping into hard surfaces. (4) And falling into pools.
The main reason of walker-related-accidents are the equipment’s wheels that allow babies to move quicker than adults. Walkers encourage infants to scoot their toes on the floor which enable them to move more than 3 feet in one second. This makes it difficult for even the most attentive parents to prevent mishaps.
... walkers manufacturers improved their designed many times to make the equipment better and safer for babies. The upgrades include: (1) Making frames wider than doorways to stop babies from getting through doors. (2) Making wheels bigger to prevent wheels from getting stuck which can cause the devices to tip over. (3) Stopped the production of x-frame walkers because this design has been responsible for finger-amputations as babies’ hands got caught in the x-joint of the frame.
New models of baby walkers lessen the number of accidents greatly but they did not completely stop all the walker-related-accidents. Unfortunately, the devices continue sending thousands of babies to emergency rooms every year.
The risks and life-threatening injuries are not the only reasons why pediatricians do not recommend baby walkers. The devices are unhelpful for babies’ motor development. Contrary to what many believed, infant walkers delay the onset of walking. Studies have found that walkers hinder motor development. This is because the devices don’t give babies enough opportunity to practice their balance and other skills they need to walk. They interfere with crawling, pulling up, and creeping which are the first skills to learn to master walking.
Baby walkers do not developing the right muscles needed for walking. Since the devices encourage scooting, they develop the lower leg muscles. Instead of the upper and hip muscles which are important to give babies enough strength to stand and make those little steps. The leg actions and body movements of babies who used walkers greatly differed from those who didn’t. In a study, babies who used walkers have stiff legs, shorter steps, and often lean forward when walking.
Despite of the dangers and the call by doctors to ban baby walkers, why are the devices still popular today? This is probably because people are misinformed. Walkers have been used for many decades and have earned people’s trust. The devices are recommended by many parents to help children walk. Unfortunately, not many walker-related-injuries are reported on the news. That is why many doctors continue their campaign against baby walkers and educate parents about the dangers of these devices.
As parents, our child’s safety is our top priority. There are baby walkers’ alternatives that are safe to use for babies. For example: (1) Stationary activity centers which is almost similar to baby walkers but don’t have wheels. (2) Playpens which allow babies to practice crawling, sitting, pulling-up, creeping, and walking at an enclosed space. (3) Playing mats which encourage babies to use and develop their arm and leg muscles which are essential for walking.
Isabella Whitmore is a loving mother of two. She writes for https://electrickettlesplus.com, an appliance website that offers wide selection of electric kettles. Including this variable temperature kettle which is safe to use for making baby food.
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