Generations of families put their babies in walkers and watched them scoot around, entertain themselves, and run over toes and paws. You may have used one for snacks or quick feedings.
It is quite possible that some babies even enjoy the feeling of air blowing through their hair as they cruise at high speeds. But according to pediatricians, walkers should be banned. Studies go back decades on the dangers of baby walkers and how many related injuries occur every year.
That’s in addition to lawsuits lodged against manufacturers. What is exactly is going on? Falls down stairs, pinched baby fingers, and the grabbing of harmful objects. It’s estimated that these mini machines can move up to 3 or 4 feet per second, faster than a parent can catch it.
Earlier this month, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a new report solidifying their position that walkers be banned. Researchers analyzed thousands of emergency room reports for babies under 15 months old who were injured by walkers. There were approximately 230,000 walker-related visits.
Covering a period that spanned from January 1990 to December 2014, they found that most injuries were on the head, neck, and face. While falls were the number one cause (nearly 74% of cases), other reasons include tipping over, pulling or touching a harmful object (e.g. a hot oven, sharp items, chemicals), hitting a surface, or getting tangled in something.
Since the mid-1990s, many safety protocols have been enacted to lower the amount of deaths and injuries caused by walkers. A voluntary measure was undertaken by some companies to manufacture walkers that included a stopping mechanism and a redesign so they could not fit through the average doorway.
Between 1990 and 2003, there was a sharp decline – roughly 85% – in injuries. Although there has been some improvement, there are still nearly 2,000 walker-related incidents each year. The American Academy of Pediatrics also points to evidence that use of walkers actually hinders motor development.
As result of these studies, a large number of pediatricians support ending the sale of walkers altogether. Because of the dangers they pose, Canada instituted a ban back in 2004.
Doctors recommend parents use a stationary activity center to lessen the chance of a busy baby hurting himself. Keep them positioned away from power cords and outlets, kitchen appliances, and toilets and pools (some children have drowned in their walkers).
While researchers in this study concluded that there has been a decline in sales of wheeled walkers, they are still on the market. Many of us had one when we were little or used them for our own babies, not realizing all these risks were involved.
With a spotlight on this piece of baby gear, it is possible that we will see more changes in how they are made or if they are sold at all. Talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns.
Were you aware of all these baby walker dangers? Did you or do you have one for your babies? Do you agree with the AAP and think they should be banned?