Instead of a using a baby walker with wheels, opt for tummy time.
Most parents know what a baby walker is but if you don’t, baby walkers are those four-wheeled devices that allow children to push themselves around before they can walk.
Baby walkers are often sold to parents as devices that will help children walk independently sooner, even though research suggests that it actually delays the start of walking. Baby walkers do not promote walking skills.
The reality is that these baby walkers are extremely dangerous: More than 230,000 children under 15 months old were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments for skull fractures, concussions, broken bones and other injuries related to infant walkers from 1990 through 2014, according to a study in the journal Pediatrics published Monday.
So what makes a baby walker dangerous? Baby walkers allow young children to move around much faster than they are developmentally ready for, causing very serious injuries. Most of the injuries occur when a child in a walker falls down stairs, often severely hurting their head or neck.
Because baby walkers are not going to encourage walking in your child the best and safest alternative would be to use a stationary activity center — anything that that does not have wheels. This is also a great time to go back to the basics of allowing just some good old-fashioned tummy time! This is when children are placed on their bellies on the floor and allowed to learn to gradually push themselves up, then crawl and eventually walk. The joys of catching those special moments should never be underestimated.
This post was written by Purnima Unni, MPH, CHES, the Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program Manager for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and a certified child passenger safety technician. She is a wife and proud mother of two daughters.
The Trauma Service’s Injury Prevention Program at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt strives to reduce unintentional injuries among children and promote safe behaviors in the community. Click here to learn more.