Baby Walkers The Good and the Bad
A baby walker is a very simple device. At it's simplest, it's nothing more than a small framework of plastic or metal sitting atop a platform with wheels on the bottom and a cushioned seat in the center. When a baby is placed inside, it helps the child to move around.
Although the peak of their popularity was the mid nineties, they remained popular until the abnormally high accident rate of babies that used them became noticeable. They have since regained some of their popularity as the industry responded to their problems by making safer baby walkers.
These devices are controversial and there are people on both sides of the issue. Some believe that baby walkers are very useful in enabling the child to move around and explore on his own before he or she has developed motor skills and coordination. Others believe, however, that the use of a baby walker inhibits the development of those very same motor skills. Still others believe that because of their new found mobility, children are able to get into troubles that they may otherwise have avoided. Troubles such has getting a-hold of potentially harmful utensils on table tops that he would ordinarily not be able to reach.
Some parents believe that a baby walker is a great time saver device as it let's them go about their own business while their child is pre-occupied in the "mobile playpen". However, such a belief is a recipe for disaster. If a kid is too young to be able to walk on his own, he is surely too young to be left alone in a baby walker. And hospital statistic bear that out as one of the most common injuries to babies brought in to U.S. emergency rooms are injuries related to the use of a baby walker. In most cases the injury is directly caused by the baby-walker tipping over near stairs or an uneven floor area and injuring himself in the process.
Parents who are determined to use a baby walker for their child should take certain precautions. The first is to never leave their child unattended. The second is to not use the device on a surface that is uneven and that may cause the walker to tip over. Never, never, never allow your child to be near a stairway while in his walker - this is where most injuries occur. Ensure that the walker is well constructed. And lastly, make sure that whatever walker you buy has the latest built in device safety features recommended by the government.
Studies have shown that babies who extensively use these walkers usually learn to walk at a later age than children who are not always in such devices. As a parent, you can mitigate this trend a bit by not using the walker as a crutch or baby sitter. If you feel that you do need to place your child in a baby walker, try to do it for as short of a period as possible so that he does not become dependent on it.
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