N. Garg (u0707325)
The first time I saw a baby walker, I was visiting a family friend. The chubby baby gleefully bounced and giggled as it swung one leg out to push himself forward. I remember thinking, “Wow! What a great way to teach your baby how to walk! I am totally going to buy this for my future nieces and nephews!” (None of my siblings were in relationships yet, but I’ve never been one to sweat the small stuff.) However, recently, I learned that walkers have actually gained a reputation of doing more harm than good. One questionnaire of 100 mothers who had children admitted in the emergency room found that 83% of those children used baby walkers. 94% of those babies have had accidents due to baby walker use, and 82% of those babies had head injuries (al-Nouri L, al-Isami S, 2006). Those numbers are really high, probably because they have been sampled from mothers who are already in the emergency room.
The age that babies begin to walk varies greatly. Babies may take their first steps somewhere between 9-12 months. They are often walking by the time they are 14 to 15 months old (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009). There are certain factors that are often associated with being more likely to walk. As noted by M. Bornstein, M. Arterberry, and M. Lamb (2014) “Crawling infants who showed more interest in objects, carried objects, and shared objects with others over distance at 11 months were more likely to walk by 13 months.” Most of the parents from the emergency room study indicated that they bought the baby walker in order to help their babies learn how to walk faster. It’s understandable to presume that the child may be motivated to learn how to use the walker to their benefit in order to obtain or examine an object. Aside from the physical dangers of baby walkers, there has been some indication that they may actually hinder the learning process. Just based off of what I understand, babies learning to walk actually fall less frequently when they are carrying objects, since the objects help with their balance. It may take more time for babies who frequently use baby walkers to learn how to balance themselves, since they are already supported by the walker. Another study on pubmed also indicated that babies might be slightly developmentally delayed since the walkers hinder limb-eye coordination (AC Seigel, RV Burton 1999), but there have been a couple studies since then that refute that claim (P Burrows, P Griffiths 2002). Based off of the information I’ve encountered, I feel like if a parent chooses to allow their baby to use a baby walker, they should do so for a limited time and under a watchful eye.
Link to toy:
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2009, August 01). Movement: 8 to 12 Months. Retrieved February 17, 2017, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/Movement-8-to-12-Months.aspx
Al-nouri L, Al-isami S. Baby walker injuries. Ann Trop Paediatr. 2006;26(1):67-71.
Bornstein, M. H., Arterberry, M. E., Lamb, M. E., & Lamb, M. E. (2014). Development in infancy: a contemporary introduction. New York: Psychology Press, Taylor & Francis Group.
Burrows P, Griffiths P. Do baby walkers delay onset of walking in young children?. Br J Community Nurs. 2002;7(11):581-6.
Siegel AC, Burton RV. Effects of baby walkers on motor and mental development in human infants. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1999;20(5):355-61.