During the transition from crawling to walking, babies enjoy anything which they can use to pull themselves up into a standing position. Baby walkers help to serve this purpose well, but there have been some concerns over their safety. In this article, we’ll explore what these concerns are and whether baby walkers are deemed to be safe for your baby to use.
What are Baby Walkers?
The traditional baby walker model consists of a seat and often a table that is set into a wheeled frame. The idea is that the baby can sit in the walker and then get it to move by pushing it along with their feet. Although they’re called baby walkers, they weren’t really designed to help babies learn to walk, but more to give them a degree of mobility.
Concerns about Baby Walkers
Safety experts expressed concern about baby walkers after there are a string of accidents associated with their use. One of the main problems is that they could be unstable and, as children speed along in them, accidents happened with them toppling over or running into things.
The extra height given by a baby walker means that babies can reach higher objects more easily, which can be worrying when there are dangerous items. There were also problems reported with babies accidentally falling down steps, stairs or rolling the walker into fires.
As well as these dangers, physiotherapists claim that baby walkers could affect children’s ability to learn to walk and interrupt their visual skills, as they don’t explore the room in the same way as they would if they were crawling down on the floor.
In April 2007, Canada banned the sale of baby walkers and in the UK organisations such as the National Childminding Association suggest childminders don’t use baby walkers as part of their work.
How to Choose a Safe Baby Walker
Since concerns were first raised about the safety of baby walkers, changes have been made. For a start, the European Standard for baby walkers was changed back in 2005. The new standard for all baby walkers, which you should look out for when purchasing one, is BS EN 1273:2005.
Newer baby walkers, which meet this standard, are different from the older models in two major ways. They now move much more slowly, which helps them be safer, and they’re designed to stop if one of the wheels of the walker goes over the edge of a step, which should help reduce the risk of accidental falls.
Also, many companies have changed their design of baby walkers. Rather than being something children sit in, some are now designed as a sort of push-a-long toy that children can pull themselves up on and move along with.
Using Baby Walkers Safely
If you do choose to buy and use a baby walker, then remember to:
- Never use the baby walker on the landing, or anywhere near stairs.
- Never leave your baby unattended when he’s using the baby walker.
- Remove toys and other obstructions from the floor, so there’s space for the baby walker to move around.
- Avoid using it in the garden, where the surface could be uneven; this is especially important if there are any Water Features in your garden.
- Avoid using the baby walker near fires or radiators.
- Avoid buying a Secondhand Baby Walker, especially if you’re unsure if it was manufactured before 2005.