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Dr. Christopher S. Baird

How do baby walkers teach a baby to walk sooner?

Category: Health      Published: April 9, 2013

By: Christopher S. Baird, author of The Top 50 Science Questions with Surprising Answers and Associate Professor of Physics at West Texas A&M University

baby walkers
Baby walkers such as this one have been found by the AAP to stunt muscle growth and coordination, as well as lead to numerous injuries. Public Domain Image, source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Baby walkers do not teach a baby to walk and in fact delay the development of the baby's motor skills and walking ability. The walker acts as a crutch, denying the baby the opportunity to develop leg muscles and coordination on his own. Even more serious, the use of baby walkers has been found to lead to numerous accidents. The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) has called for a ban on baby walkers as they do significant damage and little good. In an official report, the AAP states, "In 1999, an estimated 8800 children younger than 15 months were treated in hospital emergency departments in the United States for injuries associated with infant walkers. Thirty-four infant walker-related deaths were reported from 1973 through 1998. The vast majority of injuries occur from falls down stairs, and head injuries are common. Walkers do not help a child learn to walk; indeed, they can delay normal motor and mental development... Because data indicate a considerable risk of major and minor injury and even death from the use of infant walkers, and because there is no clear benefit from their use, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a ban on the manufacture and sale of mobile infant walkers." If the parents want something to safely contain their baby, better options are a crib, a play pen, or a baby-proofed room that has the exits gated.

Topics: baby, baby walker, baby walker ban, baby walking, infant, stunted growth