Exploring the realm of baby mobility aids and wondering about the pros and cons of push along walkers? You’re addressing a crucial aspect of your baby’s developmental journey. Push along walkers, while designed to support a child’s natural desire to move and explore, have sparked discussions among parents and healthcare professionals regarding their benefits and potential drawbacks.
The concern often arises from the notion that push along walkers might impede the natural process of learning to walk or could pose safety risks if not used under supervision.
I’ve compiled a comprehensive guide that weighs the benefits and potential concerns associated with push along walkers. This guide aims to provide a balanced perspective, backed by professional advice, to help you make an informed decision about using push along walkers for your baby.
Let’s stride through this exploration together, understanding the multifaceted aspects of push along walkers and how they align with your child’s developmental milestones and safety.
Are push along walkers bad for babies?
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.
Push along walkers, also known as push toys or baby walkers, can be both beneficial and potentially harmful, depending on a variety of factors including the design of the walker, the age and developmental stage of the baby, and how the walker is used. Here’s an informative table summarizing the pros and cons of using push along walkers for babies:
|Motor Skill Development||– Can help in developing gross motor skills by encouraging walking and standing. |
– May aid in improving balance and coordination.
|– May encourage walking on tiptoes if the walker is too tall, which can lead to abnormal gait development. |
– Might discourage crawling which is crucial for motor skills and coordination development.
|Independence||– Provides a sense of independence and mobility as babies can move around.||– Over-dependence on the walker for mobility might delay the natural process of learning to walk independently.|
|Safety||– Some designs provide stability and support, aiding in safer exploration.||– Increased risk of accidents and injuries as babies might access dangerous areas or tip the walker over. |
– Babies may move faster than caregivers can react, leading to falls or collisions.
|Engagement||– Often come with engaging toys and activities that can be entertaining and educational.||– Overstimulation from too many attached toys might distract from the primary goal of encouraging walking.|
|Muscle Development||– Can help in strengthening leg muscles.||– May not promote even muscle development; the muscles might not develop in the correct sequence.|
|Spatial Awareness||– Allows babies to explore and develop spatial awareness.||– The walker might impede the natural exploration that occurs through crawling and toddling, which can affect spatial and sensory learning.|
|Usage Supervision||– When used under strict supervision and for limited periods, can provide a safe play experience.||– Without proper supervision, the risks of accidents and injuries significantly increase.|
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 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 or push toy, however, is a completely different toy that can support babies natural development in a standing position and be a fun tool as babies learn to walk naturally.
The other thing to remember is that the age you introduce a baby walker to a baby is important- too early is more likely to cause issues!
Are Baby Walkers Safe?
The consensus among many healthcare professionals and child safety experts is that baby walkers are not safe due to the risks of injury and the potential for developmental delays. Here’s a breakdown of the concerns:
Risks of Injury:
- Falls: The most common injuries associated with baby walkers are falls. Babies can fall out of the walker or the walker can fall down stairs.
- Access to Hazards: Baby walkers elevate children to a height where they can reach dangerous objects such as hot drinks, cleaning products, or sharp objects.
- Burns and Poisonings: With the increased reach, children can access hot surfaces, pull down hot liquids, or get hold of poisonous substances.
- Delay in Motor Skills Development: The use of baby walkers can delay the development of a baby’s motor skills, including sitting up, crawling, and walking.
- Improper Postural Development: Baby walkers encourage babies to stand on their toes and can interfere with the natural process of learning to walk, which may affect their posture and baby learn balance.
Regulations and Recommendations:
- Regulations: Some countries, like Canada, have banned the sale of baby walkers due to the associated risks.
- Professional Recommendations: Organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advise against the use of baby walkers and recommend that parents choose safer alternatives like stationary activity centers.
If parents still choose to use a baby walker despite the risks and recommendations, it’s crucial to:
- Always Supervise: Never leave a baby unattended in a walker.
- Baby-Proof the Area: Ensure that the area is safe and free from hazards.
- Limit Usage: Restrict the amount of time a baby spends in a walker.
Differences Between Baby Walker vs Push Walker
Baby walkers and push walkers serve different purposes and have various impacts on a child’s development. Understanding their differences can help parents make informed decisions on which, if either, is right for their child.
|Aspect||Baby Walker (Seated Walker)||Push Walker (Push Along Walker)|
|Design||– A frame on wheels with a fabric seat that suspends the baby’s feet above the floor, allowing them to move around by pushing off with their toes.||– A sturdy frame on wheels with a handle that a child can hold onto while walking behind it.|
|Age Range||– Typically used for infants who can sit up unassisted (around 6-9 months) but have not yet begun to walk.||– Generally suitable for older infants and toddlers who are learning to stand or have begun to walk (around 9-18 months).|
|Mobility||– Encourages mobility by allowing the baby to move around independently before they can walk.||– Encourages mobility by providing support for balance as the child learns to walk.|
|Safety Concerns||– Increased risk of accidents such as falls down stairs, reaching dangerous objects, or tipping over. |
– May encourage tiptoe walking, which can lead to abnormal gait development.
|– Risks include tipping over if the design is not sturdy or if used on uneven surfaces. |
– May still allow access to dangerous objects or areas.
|Motor Skill Development||– Can hinder the natural process of learning to crawl, stand, and walk. |
– Does not encourage proper muscle development necessary for walking.
|– Can aid in developing gross motor skills, balance, and coordination. |
– Helps in strengthening leg muscles in a more natural walking position.
|Educational Features||– Often come with attached toys, music, or lights that can be engaging but possibly overstimulating.||– May also come with attached toys or activity centers that encourage sensory and cognitive development.|
|Supervision||– Requires constant supervision to prevent accidents.||– Also requires supervision, especially in the early stages of use, to ensure safety.|
|Recommendation from Experts||– Many pediatric experts advise against the use of seated walkers due to safety concerns and potential hindrance to motor development.||– Generally seen as a safer and more developmentally appropriate option for encouraging walking, when used in moderation and under supervision.|
Choosing between a baby walker and a push walker depends on the individual child’s stage of development, the environment in which the walker will be used, and personal parental preferences.
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 like many early walkers did.
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 they practice walking and are learning independent walking.
And finally they can let go.
Wooden baby walkers also tend to support walking and development in other ways as well that infant walkers do not. 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.
FAQs on Are Push Walkers Bad?
Do push toys delay walking?
Push toys, also known as push walkers, are designed to support toddlers who are learning to walk. Unlike baby walkers where babies may sit or hang, push toys require children to stand and walk behind them, pushing the toy along. Here’s a breakdown of their impact on walking and other developmental aspects:
1. Support in Learning to Walk:
- Physical Support: Push toys can provide physical support for toddlers who are just learning to walk, helping babies learn balance as they move around.
- Confidence Building: They can also help build confidence as toddlers gain more experience standing and moving on their two feet.
2. Motor Skills and Coordination:
- Improved Coordination: Push toys can help improve coordination and motor skills as toddlers learn to navigate their environment.
- Muscle Development: They encourage the use of leg muscles in a way that’s more natural than baby walkers.
3. Potential Concerns:
- Overuse: Like with baby walkers, there could be concerns if a child spends too much time with push toys and not enough time exploring movement independently.
- Falls: There’s a risk of falls if a child moves too fast or on an uneven surface. However, this risk might be lower compared to that associated with baby walkers.