Baby walkers are some of the most common baby playing tools that you will find in many homes. Usually, they are used to train the baby’s walking. Also, mothers use baby walkers to keep the kids busy as they engage in other household chores. However, baby walkers are undoubtedly one of the most dangerous tools that babies can play with while at home. In many cases, babies end up in emergency rooms after hurting themselves while playing with the baby walker.
The number of deaths arising from baby walkers is alarmingly high to the extent that activists have launched campaigns urging the government to ban them. Many who buy baby walkers feel that it is an essential tool in aiding the baby’s walking development. However, in most cases, this tool does the opposite. It delays natural growth.
How a baby walks
Contrary to the common belief that baby walkers help assist a baby to learn walking, the process is natural and doesn’t require any aiding. For a baby to begin walking, it should follow the following procedures:
- Roll on the floor. This is in a bid to seek stability. The rolling is occasioned by attempts to sit down.
- Sitting and falling backward
- Crawling on the knees
- Trying to stand and falling back
- Walking while leaning on stationary objects
The above process is typical to all babies and must happen that way to enable them to walk. Confining the baby to a walker hinders walking development as their ability to train by themselves while on the floor is hampered by the tool.
Why baby walkers limit walking development
- Your baby needs to spend considerable time on the floor while practicing how to walk to grasp the skill. This process has to be repeated severally, and ultimately the baby can stand on its own and eventually walk. With a baby walker, this natural process is hindered.
- When you put a baby on the walker, it tends to move by their toes. This causes the tightening of their leg muscles, and when they later try to walk on their feet, it becomes difficult. This will only be realized when you get the baby from the walker. You will note a tendency of walking on the toes, and since they don’t have good balance, they topple on the front.
- Babies try to balance when you see them struggling to sit down on their own and falling back. This process is essential in training them to keep balance and eventually learn to walk. Most walkers are designed to train the baby to stay standing. This is wrong as babies need to spend the most time on the floor as they practice sitting on their own and eventually start walking.
- The baby’s body before walking is not developed enough to support the trunk weight. During crawling, this is when this ability is honed. In the process, the pelvic and shoulder bones are strengthened thus enabling support of the body why walking. A baby walker prevents this development.
In addition to slowing down the baby’s development, the use of a baby walker is also dangerous to the wellbeing of your baby. Unfortunately, many parents are unaware that they predispose their babies to many dangers when they put them on the walker. Some of these include:
- Falling down the staircase. Imagine your baby rolling down the stairs after reaching the stairs with no one to prevent it. Such a crash can be fatal and even lead to death. Although many people use baby gates or also choose to live in single-story houses to prevent such accidents, they are almost inevitable. Your baby might even develop a skull injury from the fall and in the process suffer mental damage.
- Proximity injuries are common in babies who are on baby walkers than their counterparts who move through crawling. The tool elevates the kid to a higher height, and this enables touching of objects that he/she couldn’t reach while on the knees. Baby walkers have caused many cases of babies suffering burns from hot objects. Cases of poisoning are also rampant in homes where babies are on walkers. They are highly likely to ingest chemicals such as household cleaners that are placed on higher grounds as their movement is almost unlimited.
- A baby walker also makes your babe unsafe even from their older siblings. As they play, there is a chance of them being toppled over since the tool minimizes stability.
- The risk of your baby coming into contact with electric sockets is also present. The baby might end up poking objects into the socket, and this exposes it to the risk of an electric shock.
- The dangers that you expose your baby to are almost inexhaustible. There is a chance of the baby coming into contact with hot drinks and burning themselves. Remember that while in the walker, the baby moves faster than you can control.
Although the dangers of a baby walker are numerous, there are some ways, according to some experienced parents, that you can limit your baby’s probability of landing in trouble. Some of them include:
- Ensure that you stay proximal to your baby when on the baby walker. This will enable you to monitor the movements.
- Ensure that the baby walker is used on a flat surface where there is no chance that it will topple over after hitting a stationary object.
- Limit the time that the baby spends on the walker to 15 minutes. This will prevent the overreliance on the tool that is harmful in hindering development. Surprisingly, it is not only the physical growth that is impended but also mental development.
- Also, it is recommended that a baby should be put on the walker after they can sit. Once the baby can walk the walker should be discarded as it is highly likely to cause accidents.
In conclusion, your baby requires your help to aid walking and other developments. However, buying a baby walker may end up causing more harm than good. The chances of an injury arising are very high. The tool has been a significant cause of injuries in babies and thus needs to be used carefully. Your presence is a must whenever your baby is on the walker. Also applying the above mentioned precautionary measures is vital in improving safety.