Do a quick search on google and the overwhelming opinion is that baby walkers are bad for babies. However, these articles refer to sit-in baby walkers rather than push-along baby walkers and even sit in walkers should be safe for short periods if supervised.
A sit-in wheel around baby walker is dangerous for a number of reasons.
Firstly they put babies in an unnatural position for their stage of development and cause them to use their muscles and limbs in an unnatural way. They don’t learn to balance and they use different muscles to scoot than they would use to walk. This can lead to developmental delays and even long-lasting hip, knee and ankle issues.
Secondly as babies, like being upright, and enjoy the feeling of being able to move around so, are often very happy to be in a walker. This can lead to parents leaving babies in a walker when they need to get things done without realising how dangerous they can be if babies are left unattended.
One of the reasons baby walkers have been banned in Canada is the number of walker related injuries including burns, scooting into things and crushing their fingers, pulling things down on top of them and even falling down steps or stairs.
A push-along wooden baby walker, however, is a completely different toy that can support babies natural development and be a fun tool in their journey towards walking.
The difference of a standing/push-along baby walker
A stand up walker is different in a number of key ways.
Firstly providing you get a good quality walker babies can use them to pull themselves up to standing which is an important part of learning to balance and walk. They’ll probably want to use you or the sofa to pull themselves up, to begin with, but a push-along walker is essentially just another great bit of furniture as far as babies are concerned.
Just make sure you are there to make sure the walker doesn’t tip.
Secondly the fact that they are not sitting in the walker allows them to drop back down on their bottoms when they lose their balance. Sitting in a walker leaves them dangling which can damage both their spine and hips. Sitting unassisted builds strength and develops muscles needed for walking and balance.
Thirdly, babies can see their feet which is vital when learning to walk.
And finally they can let go.
Wooden baby walkers also tend to support walking and development in other ways as well. An activity walker is fun long before a baby can stand and walk and will encourage sitting and crawling which are both important developmental milestones.
An activity walker for baby might come with blocks or other activities which are perfect for developing fine motor skills and again are perfect for playing with before babies can walk. And of course, pushing toys around in a little cart, or building block towers is fun for years making these great value toys. Our brands include djeco, bigjigstoys etc.
Do Baby Walkers Affect Development?
There are primarily two styles of baby walker. A sit-in baby walker with wheels that babies scoot around in and a push-along baby walker that babies can use to support themselves as they learn to walk.
If you look online you will see loads of articles warning of the possible negative developmental effects of using a baby walker as well as safety issues involved.
These articles refer to the sit-in style baby walkers with wheels that your baby can use to scoot around the room.
How does a baby walker affect development?
Developmental effects of baby walkers include muscle, bone and joint problems and the evidence is convincing enough that Canada banned them in 2007.
Because a baby walker holds your baby upright they don’t develop the ability to balance on their own which has shown to lead to delays in their ability to walk and stand on their own. Holding your babies hands, giving them furniture or toys to pull themselves up on and bouncing them up and down on your knees are all better ways to support balance.
Evidence also shows that being kept upright delays or even prevents a child from learning to crawl which is a vital part of their brain development as well as physical development. Being in a walker can also limit babies opportunities to develop perceptual skills such as distance and depth. This means that time in a baby walker should be limited and combined with lots of time on the floor.
Being in a baby walker teaches a child to scoot across the floor using their toes which develops the wrong muscles and can have a negative impact on joint development, and can affect the way they learn to walk leading to long term problems.
Hanging from the crotch can also affect the spine and hips. Again limited use shouldn’t do any harm but to learn to walk babies need to be on the floor, pulling themselves up and learning to balance.
Safety issues also arise from using a baby walker. Suddenly your child can move at great speed so require constant supervision. They’re also much higher giving them access to hot, sharp or other dangerous items that they would not normally have. Hot drinks and burns are a particular hazard.
Babies natural development process
Naturally babies need to spend a lot of time on the floor developing their physical and cognitive development as part of the process of learning to walk.
They start off with tummy time, learning to roll around and shuffle themselves towards things they want. They learn to sit, developing their core strength, and then move on to bum shuffling, scooting and crawling.
As they get bigger they start to pull themselves up to standing with the help of furniture or toys and gradually begin to navigate around these objects and will eventually have developed the balance, stability and coordination required to take their first unassisted steps.
Spending too much time sitting in a baby walker can prevent babies from developing and practising these skills. However, a push-along walker or activity centre can encourage babies to want to sit, crawl and stand, and help keep them steady as they are learning to take their first steps.