As young children inch closer to learning to walk, some parents choose infant walkers to allow their child to move around while contained. However, increased movement can be dangerous as sharp tools, hot ovens, pools and bathtubs, and household chemicals become easy to reach.
A new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that between 1990 and 2014, a reported 230,676 children below the age of 15 months were injured after using infant walkers and were taken to emergency rooms. Nearly 40% fractured their skulls falling down the stairs in the walkers.
However, the study also found that once a new safety standard passed in 2010, injuries decreased. The Consumer Safety and Product Commission (CPSC) added new product testing, considerations for children’s weight, and required parking brakes to prevent falls. Nevertheless, injuries are still taking place, and with recent awareness about the dangers, decreased injuries may just mean that fewer parents are choosing infant walkers.
More than 2,000 infant walker-related injuries still occur each year, according to the director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Ohio’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Dr. Gary Smith. He and many other doctors across the nation agree with AAP’s stance to ban the manufacture and sale of infant walkers in the US.
Related injuries have led to eight tragic deaths in just four years, between 2004 and 2008, and every single injury is indeed preventable. When comparing children who use walkers with children who do not, research shows that walkers can prevent motor development and are not helping children learn to walk,.
Finally, reports from caregivers on Saferproducts.gov describe the different possible injuries from infant walkers. One parent mentioned how easily her daughter’s walker tipped over when just reaching for something. Similarly, a grandparent noted the weak grips on the wheels of her grandson’s walker, a clear risk for slippery falls.
Great alternatives which can keep your children busy without risk of falls or other injuries are activity centers and floor seats. Of course when it comes to healthy development, nothing beats just having your baby on the floor learning to sit, roll, and crawl! For more information on infant walker hazards, visit our product page on walkers – link. Find walker recalls at CPSC.gov.