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The Dangers of Baby Walkers
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) feels that walkers should be banned from the United States because:
baby walkers put children at risk for injury and
there are no clear benefits from using a baby walker.
From 1989 to 1993 there were 11 deaths involving a baby walker. Each year over 8000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for walker-related injuries. Many more children are injured and go to their health care provider's office. Walker injuries can be serious, such as skull fractures, head injuries causing bleeding inside the head, broken legs and arms, and burns.
FACT: Baby walkers do not help your baby to walk earlier. In fact, they often delay walking.
FACT: A baby in a walker can move at a speed of 3 feet per second. This is much faster than a baby can move on his own.
FACT: Gates do not prevent babies from tumbling down stairs in walkers. Children can take the gate down or the baby walker can knock the gate loose.
FACT: Baby walkers put children at increased risk for burns, poisonings, and drownings. This is because the child can move about faster and reach dangerous objects.
FACT: Most baby walker injuries happen while at least one parent is at home watching the child.
Ways to Keep Your Child Happy
Children can be entertained in other ways or placed in a safer piece of equipment. Playpens, stationary activity centers, infant swings, and high chairs are other ways to keep your child safe and happy. Be sure to use a safety belt if you put your child in a high chair or swing.
Get out your camera! Your baby seems to be on the verge of taking her first few steps. Like many parents, you may be inclined to put her in a baby walker to encourage her.
You will be making a mistake. Baby walkers can put your child at danger.
The National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have developed a fact sheet to inform parents about the dangers of baby walkers.
Most parents are not aware that baby walkers can be very dangerous. Since 1973, 34 children have died because of injuries sustained in walkers. Baby walker accidents send more than 25,000 children to the emergency room each year. Children in baby walkers can:
- Roll down stairs. (This is the most common way children get hurt.)
- Get burned. (The child may be able to reach a hot item on the table or stove.)
- Drown. (The child can roll into a pool, or fall into a bathtub or toilet.)
- Be poisoned. (A child in a walker may be able to reach poisonous items that you thought were out of reach.)
- Be harmed in other ways. (Walkers can delay crawling, sitting and walking in some children.)
- Trick you. (A child in a walker can move more than three feet in a second, making him or her able to go faster than you can when trying to prevent an accident.)
So what should you do? NACHRI and AAP suggest that you replace your baby walker with a play table that has a seat, a playpen, an infant swing or a high chair.
Your child's safety is your number-one concern. Don't let a baby walker be the cause of an accident to your precious child.
Baby walkers are responsible for injuring 4,000 children a year and should be banned, say physiotherapists.
They also claim that baby walkers disrupt the ability of children to develop walking and visual skills, and stop them from properly exploring their surroundings.
A motion calling for a ban was overwhelmingly backed at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists' (CSP) annual conference in Eastbourne.
Walkers are used by more than 250,000 babies in the UK.
Physiotherapist Lynda Rowe said: "The CSP has already highlighted the potential dangers of baby walkers, both in the media and amongst MPs.
"New research from the USA has shown that the use of baby walkers can interfere with babies' development of visual-motor skills and also deprive them of the learning activities afforded by exploration."
Studies have shown that children who have used baby walkers take longer to sit upright, crawl and walk.
A recent study also found that babies who had been in walkers did not perform as well in simple mental tests.
Ms Rowe said 4,000 babies a year in the UK were hurt in the walkers, with injuries from burns and grazes to head injuries.
She said: "Parents buy baby walkers because they believe they will keep their children safe and help them to learn to walk.
"Physiotherapists know this is not the case and we are calling on the CSP to join forces with other health organisations to launch a campaign to have them banned."