Walking is one of the most significant stages of your baby’s development. Those first steps signify independence and remind you of the great job you have done in supporting your little one through his growth journey.
If you are like most parents, you may want to bring home a baby walker to help and support your little munchkin through this new path. But are walkers safe? And if you decide to use one, is there anything like the ‘right baby walker age’?
In this post, we answer these questions and more to help you make an informed decision. Let’s dive in!
What Is A Baby Walker?
A baby walker is a wheeled device designed to allow infants who cannot walk to get from one place to another. It has a seat, with leg holes cut out, hanging from plastic or steel frames where an infant can sit upright with his feet touching the ground.
There is also a tray table in front of toys for baby to play with. This makes a walker a great device to keep your child occupied when you are doing house chores like cooking, laundry, or cleaning his play yard.
What Is The Right Baby Walker Age?
When to put a baby in a walker depends on the baby’s size, his strength, and his development. At the minimum, your child should be able to hold their head up without support and his feet must be able to touch the ground to use a walker.
So, “What age can a baby use a walker,” you may ask?
Walkers are designed for use by infants between the ages of 4 and 10 months. The child has to figure out how to scoot and push the walker with his feet to make it move. Babies who are already walking should not use one.
Advantages Of A Baby Walker
There are a few things that make baby walkers great. Read on!
Most infant walkers come with attractive toys to keep babies busy and engaged. These toys are designed not only to provide visual growth but also to help with mental growth. With a walker at home, you will be able to carry on your daily duties and still keep your little one engaged.
Most babies are reluctant to take their first steps because they are afraid of falling. A baby walker provides the support your child needs, which might encourage him to walk. Baby understands that the standing position aids walking, which inspires him to attempt to walk on his own.
Babies between the ages of six and twelve months are always busy exploring the world around them. They will scoot, creep, or crawl from place to place to satisfy their curiosity. If your kiddie is the right baby walker age, getting him one will help him get around easily.
Baby Walker Safety And Developmental Delay Concerns
In recent years, baby walkers have been attacked increasingly as safety hazards, which has left many parents wondering:
Are Baby Walkers Good For Babies?
No, they are not. Some parents believe that getting a walker for their little ones will help them walk earlier but the opposite seems to be true, as this device has been found to delay walking by up to three weeks. Studies have shown that for every day an infant spends in a walker, he delays his waking by up to three days and his standing by up to four days.
In several studies, infants who use walkers have been found to have a lower mental and motor development too than those who don’t. Evidence has shown that keeping the child in an upright position for too long before he is ready can interfere with the natural development of his brain.
The brain controls the movement of arms and legs, which makes crawling an important activity for children in promoting brain development. In a walker, infants lose the opportunity to crawl, which can negatively affect brain growth.
Are Baby Walkers Bad For Baby Legs?
Yes, baby walkers are bad for baby legs. A walker provides an easier alternative for the baby to walk, which means the infant is not working the muscles he should be working to prepare him to walk.
Walkers have been found to strengthen the wrong muscles. They add more muscle to the lower legs but leave the hips and upper legs still relatively weak. The hips and upper legs are the most essential body parts when it comes to walking, and if they are not strong enough, your baby may take a little more time to walk.
Can Baby Walkers Cause Bow Legs?
Yes, the baby walker can cause bow legs. This is because a walker allows an infant to move from place to place before he is ready. When his legs hang to touch the floor, he puts extra pressure on the spine and hips. As a result, the baby’s legs get into a bow shape, which may impact how he walks when he finally learns to do so.
Do Baby Push Walkers Delay Walking?
Yes, baby push walkers do delay walking. Contrary to what many parents believe, push walkers negatively affect the normal growth and development of your baby. They cause infants to skip the essential task of crawling. Babies build their leg, back, and neck muscles through crawling, giving them the strength they need to walk.
Why Are Baby Walkers Banned?
Baby walkers are banned because, apart from delaying children’s development, they are also extremely dangerous. Health professionals and safety experts discourage the use of these devices because of the numerous injuries and accidents they cause.
A walker gives infants extra speed and extra height making it easy for them to access hazards. Unless you have a baby gate or are constantly watching your little one, when to put a baby in the walker should be never. Walkers can also be very unstable on an uneven surface, which could cause a baby to tip over.
Most injuries result from falls when a walker topples and the child crashes into furniture, fireplace, heaters, and other hazardous places. Since the baby has gained extra height too, he can also reach dangerous objects that were previously out of reach like a cup of hot drink, household poisons like perfumes and alcohol, or a burning candle.
Never leave your baby unwatched when he is in a walker. And remember that even with supervision, baby walker accidents can still happen. An infant can travel at a speed of up to one and a half meters per second in a walker, so accidents may occur before you are even able to stop them. If you are occupied, it would be safer to leave the baby on a play mat than in a walker.
Safe Ways For Children To Have Fun
Stationary activity centers, high chairs, playpens, and baby swings are the safest ways for babies to have fun. Even though your little one is the right baby walker age, refrain from getting a walker for him. Not only will it make him lag in his growth but also put him at risk of accidents.
However, even when using a baby walker alternative, never leave your child alone. Make sure to baby proof your furniture and living room, the fireplace, cabinets and drawers, and anything else that could be hazardous to a baby. If you already own a walker, consider taking the wheels off. Remember, if you are putting your infant in a high chair or swing, always buckle his seat belt.
Precautions To Take While Baby Is Using A Walker
If you decide to buy a walker for your baby, always make sure you are taking the following safety precautions to keep your little one out of harm and to ensure effective growth.
- Have a baby use the walker only on a flat surface.
- Keep the walker and baby from water bodies, staircases, and hazards of any kind
- Inspect the play area to ensure that there are no sharp objects. Move breakable or heavy objects into a different area.
- Keep an eye on your baby while in a walker regardless of whether he is moving the walker or not.
- Limit use to 15 minutes daily. The longer you leave the baby in a walker, the longer it will take for him to start walking.
- Keep the walker low enough so that baby’s feet can completely touch the floor. If only the tips of his toes can touch the floor, don’t use the walker until he has grown a little more.
My Babies Planet Overview
When to put a baby in the walker depends on his size and how strong he is. However, due to the numerous injuries that have been reported over the years and the fact that walkers can delay an infant’s development, experts recommend not using one. Parents are advised to go for baby walker alternatives like high chairs, stationary activity centers, and baby swings instead, and even then, they should not leave infants unsupervised.