Are baby walkers safe: busting the common myths

March 29, 2022
Know all about Short stature/Little people of the world
March 22, 2022
Bone health
Nutrition and Bone Health in Kids
April 3, 2022

Walkers are devices designed to help babies learn how to walk and usually involve an apparatus with wheeled frames with suspended seats. More often than not we see parents all around the world swooning over little toddlers who are trying to walk in their baby walkers.

Nevertheless, did you know that baby walkers are completely banned in Canada? Our today’s article is going to help you understand the common myths that revolve around baby walkers and if they are a necessity for your child.

Learning how to walk:

Walking is one of the first milestones your baby reaches usually between 8-18 months. A lot of kids start crawling and pulling themselves up with support before they start walking. To walk, your baby needs to have many skills, including balance, coordination, standing up and being able to support their body weight from one leg to the other. Your baby learns new skills by relying on the skills he/she has learnt previously. Most babies go through the following phases before learning how to walk:

  • Rolling on the floor
  • Sitting
  • Crawling, creeping or scooting
  • Pulling themselves up to stand
  • Moving around furniture or other stationary objects

The aforementioned list clearly shows how important it is for the baby to have a constant contact with the floor in order to learn and practice these activities. Using a baby walker can actually impede your child’s learning outcome due to the lack of time he/she gets after being restricted on the walker.

Walkers and delayed locomotive development:

  • The toe muscles that babies tend to use when they are in a walker, tightens their leg muscles and hinders with the normal walking development. Once they outgrow the walker, they often continue using their toes which is not how a baby should learn how to walk.
  • Walkers take away all the floor time from your baby which can end up slowing down their learning process of walking. It is very important for a baby to repeat certain movements over and over again so to inculcate them, using a walker interferes with that.
  • Sitting up after pulling themselves up is an important task that babies learn after they understand how to balance themselves. A baby in a walker might find it difficult to learn this skill.
  • It is important for babies to bear a little weight on their pelvis and shoulders while they are on their hands and knees learning how to crawl. However, being in a walker means less time being on hands and knees. 
  • A number of important movements take place before your baby learns how to walk but they get fewer chances to practise these in a walker.

Common myths related to baby walkers:

  1. A baby walker is a safe space for my child:

Baby walkers especially when left unattended or unsupervised can be a very dangerous thing. According to a study in the USA, it was revealed how children in baby walkers had a lot of serious accidents that eventually had to be treated in the emergency department. These accidents weren’t limited to babies falling down off the stairs but also included incidents of grabbing, pulling and getting stuck in things that would otherwise be out of their reach.

  • A baby walker will strengthen my child’s legs:

Baby walkers prevent your child from carrying any weight on their hips and legs which in turn can lead to long term changes to child’s walking pattern and can sometimes cause long term hip problems. Baby walkers end up strengthening the toe muscles (the wrong muscles for walking) and can severely impact the balance and joint development of the child with time.

  • Baby walker will enhance my child’s development:

The Bayley Assessment exam that looks at a child’s motor skill development, language development and mental skill development showed how kids who used a walker scored relatively lower marks as compared to kids who didn’t use a walker. 

  • Baby walker will help my child how to walk:

As busted earlier, this is untrue. It is believed that for every 24 hours that your baby spends in a walker, you are pushing your baby’s ability to learn how to walk further 3 days and ability to stand further 4 days.

Tips if you still use a walker:

  • Make sure your baby is supervised all the time and they cannot reach beyond a particular height. You need to make sure your baby uses a walker in a relatively bigger and empty space to prevent any mishaps.
  • Do not leave your child in a walker for more than 10 minutes in a day. You do not want to make your child dependent on it.
  • Ensure that when in walker, both feet of your child are touching the floor. If you see the baby just use their toes, then try and avoid using the walker till the time he/she has tall enough feet that fall flat on the floor.
Dr. Ratnav Ratan
Dr. Ratnav Ratan
Pediatric Orthopedist and Sports Medicine specialist

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Online Consultation
close slider




New popup image

Chat Now