Doctors Want to Ban Infant Walkers
What was once a staple on every new mother’s baby registry may soon be obsolete. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently called for a ban on infant walkers, claiming they do more harm than good for young children. A study recently published in the AAP journal found that more than 230,000 injuries between 1990 and 2014 were related to infant walkers. Children suffered bruises, lacerations, burns, broken bones, and head injuries.
Most infants were injured when their walker tipped over or fell down steps. Doctors once believed infant walkers encouraged walking. We now know they may interfere with healthy development that occurs as babies learn to walk. The AAP no longer supports the idea that infant walkers offer benefits to young children.
Infant walkers are typically geared toward children between the ages of five to 15 months. Made of a small seat attached to a frame and set upon a set of wheels, infant walkers offer babies mobility they would not otherwise have at this young age. As we see with this injury data, infant walkers may give parents a false sense of security.
Infant Walker-Related Injuries
When children are restrained in moving infant seats, they have greater access to all kinds of common hazards. Usually out of reach of small fingers and bodies, infants moving around the house can encounter electrical sockets, sharp objects, pets, steps, and household products that may contain dangerous chemicals.
The AAP study found that 74 percent of infant walker-related injuries included in the data were the result of children falling down stairs. Of those children who were admitted to the hospital after emergency room visits, a staggering 38 percent had skull fractures.
Over the years, some changes have been made to make infant walkers safer. Back in 1997, infant walker standards were changed, requiring them to be designed wider than the average doorway to prevent falls. Now the AAP says those standards are not enough to protect children, hence the call for infant walkers to be banned completely.
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