October 1, 2021

The risk of using baby walkers

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These devices can be dangerous. Instead of running the risk of using baby walkers, 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 a baby seated in it to move around upright, before they can walk on their own.

However, these baby walkers are 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. The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for a ban on the manufacture and sale of baby walkers, which are still sold in the U.S.

So what makes a baby walker dangerous? Baby walkers allow young children to move around much faster than they are developmentally ready for, which can cause serious injuries. Most of the injuries occur when a child in a walker falls down stairs, often hurting their head or neck.

Because baby walkers do not encourage walking in your child, the best and safest alternative is using a stationary activity center — anything that that does not have wheels. This is also a great time to allow 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. A playpen also allows a baby to maneuver around in a safe environment, eventually learning to crawl and pull up to a stand.

Find strategies here for keeping children of all stages safe and preventing injuries.

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.

Five children run in an open field on a sunny day.

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.

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