Experts say baby walkers should be banned!
SA Health and Kidsafe say parents should not buy the walkers and jumpers and believe floor time is better for babies.
SA Health Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nicola Spurrier, said in a statement developmental delays in babies were associated with the jumpers and walkers, shares Yahoo news.
“Excessive time in walkers and jumpers teaches babies to stand up on their tip toes, causing their calf muscles to tighten and affecting their ability to walk, and in some cases, requiring treatment with casting or surgery,” she said.
“Babies miss out on valuable floor time when spending too much time in walkers and jumpers, bypassing important development stages such as rolling and crawling.”
Dr Spurrier said there had been increased risks to babies and some had tipped over and even fallen down the stairs while in walkers.
“In jumpers, injuries can occur if fingers become trapped by the chain or springs, by bouncing into walls or objects, or if babies are pushed by another child,” she said.
“SA Health and Kidsafe are today launching a campaign to make parents aware of the dangers and to discourage the use of walkers and exercise jumpers altogether.”
Kidsafe chief executive officer Holly Fitzgerald said the walkers and jumpers were popular products but could also allow babies to access things out of reach.
“Baby walkers can be dangerous because they allow babies to move quickly around the house and gain access to things that are normally out of reach,” she said in a statement.
“There is a risk of babies burning themselves if they reach hot drinks, ovens or heaters, and a risk of poisoning if they access and swallow cleaning products or medications.
“Baby walkers don’t help babies learn to walk because they don’t allow babies to balance or use their muscles properly.”
Ms Fitzgerald is urging parents to give their baby floor time so they can develop and learn to roll, crawl and sit up in a safe area.
She said parents could use push trolleys, standing activity tables and baby swings or rockers for young babies as an alternative.
Previously on this story…
Meanwhile the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recommending baby walkers be banned.
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics supports a ban on manufacturing and selling these types of apparatuses, also known as “exersaucers.”
“I view infant walkers as inherently dangerous objects that have no benefit whatsoever and should not be sold in the U.S.,” Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, a pediatrician who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention, told National Public Radio in regards to the new study.
According to the AAP, “exersaucers” are designed to give kids 5 to 15 months old more mobility before they learn how to walk.
Thousands of babies injured
The main type of injuries caused by these toys come from falling down stairs or when a child gains access to an environment that hasn’t been baby-proofed, for example a kitchen with a hot oven door. These injuries can be severe, including brain injury and poisoning.
Between 2004 and 2008, infant walkers were associated with eight deaths, the study found
The study looked at data on children less than 15 months old who’d been treated in emergency rooms between 1990 and 2014 after using a walker to see if a mandatory federal safety standard issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2010 decreased the number or severity of injuries.
230,676 babies visited the ER for infant walker injuries during that time frame, most of them, about 90 percent, because they’d hurt their head or neck. Some 74 percent had fallen down stairs. While less than 5 percent of the total patients the study looked at were admitted to the hospital, almost 38 percent of those admitted had skull fractures.
The federal standard did positively impact walker-related injuries, however, helping decrease the rate by 22.7 percent over the four-year period after its implementation. Still, it’s not enough to quell pediatricians’ fears.
In a statement shared with PEOPLE, the AAP explained: “Because the safest baby walker is one without wheels, stationary activity centers should be promoted as a safer alternative to mobile walkers.” In fact, after stationary “walkers” were introduced in 1994, related injuries notably decreased.
The AAP also stressed that walkers do not facilitate walking or other motor skills, contrary to what parents might think. The group also explained that walkers allow babies to move so fast that even the most vigilant parents might not be able to react to a dangerous situation in time. Canada banned such walkers in 2004.
Infants can suffer serious injuries when unsupervised in baby walkers. Always keep an eye on you infant when they’re using a baby walker and ensure hazardous areas in the house are blocked off.
Infants can suffer serious injuries, such as head trauma and fractures, if the baby walker tips over or falls down stairs. Unsupervised infants in baby walkers can also gain access to potentially hazardous areas they normally couldn’t reach, such as:
- bench tops where there may be hot food, drinks or sharp objects
- kitchen utensil drawers where sharp objects are stored
- ovens and other appliances that can cause burns.
Child safety experts do not recommend baby walkers, due to:
- the serious injuries infants can suffer when using them
- possible delays in learning to walk caused when walkers are used frequently for periods 15 minutes or longer.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
- Always supervise your child in a baby walker. They should always be in reach of an adult who can prevent them accessing hazardous areas.
- Ensure the baby walker is only used on flat, even and safe surfaces to avoid falling or tipping over.
- Block off access to staircases, steps, kitchens and fireplaces to prevent injuries from falls, burns, electrocution, or sharp objects.
- Do not place any objects on the baby walker that could cause it to tip over.
- Do not leave your child in the baby walker for longer than 15 minutes at a time. Overuse can lead to developmental delays when the they are learning to walk.
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