Walkers: A Major Health Hazard
Baby walkers are unsafe. Over 40% of children who use walkers have an accident requiring medical attention. They get skull fractures, concussions, dental injuries, and lacerations. There have even been some deaths. Most of the serious walker injuries occur from falling down a stairway. When a crawling child falls down some unprotected steps, he tumbles and breaks his fall. When a child goes down a stairway in a walker, he accelerates and crash lands at the bottom.
Why then do parents use walkers? They consider walkers a safe and pleasant form of baby-sitting. And it's true, children like to be upright, especially after they have learned to sit with support, but can't sit alone or crawl. Some parents believe walkers help children learn to walk. On the contrary, walkers can delay both crawling and walking if used over 2 hours a day. There are no benefits from walkers.
Because of ongoing injuries from walkers, in the year 2001 the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended a ban on the manufacture and sale of infant walkers. Stationary activity centers without wheels are a safe alternative to walkers. They are now widely available. If you already have a walker and are reluctant to replace it, make it safer by removing or locking the wheels. Finally, be sure your child care center has discarded their baby walkers.
If you have other questions about your child's safety, discuss them with your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 9/1/2001
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.