Monday, August 17, 2009

Why I Don't Recommend Walkers for Babies

To say that I am not a fan of baby walkers is an understatement! Not only can they be unsafe if the baby goes near electrical cords, the stove, cords to blinds, and staircases, but they don't help the baby walk any sooner. Why is that? Well, babies tend to lean forward, backward, or sideways while in the walker, instead of having their feet aligned underneath their hips. If a baby were to lean in any of those directions while walking without a device, he would fall over. Hopefully, he would land on soft padded carpet, but usually that is not the case...tile, hardwood, or worse the cement sidewalk is where it may happen. Also, babies tend to be up on their tippy toes in these walkers as opposed to having a flatter foot on the surface. Makes sense that research reveals that babies who use commercial walkers on a regular basis are more likely to be late with independent walking.

Are you tempted to put the baby in a walker to give him a chance to stand up or to give yourself a break from chasing after him as he crawls away? I can understand. But there are better choices. If you need 5 minutes to get the dishes done, put the baby in his highchair near you as he takes a snack or plays with toys. If you need a moment to take a shower, then put the baby in his play yard within your sight (although I'm not the biggest fan of those either, because they tend to be over-used). If you need the baby to bear weight into his legs, then have him practice standing at the couch, an activity table, or other surface while you supervise him. Another option is the standing activity bouncers. But, if you put the baby in one of those, make sure it is for a limited time and his feet are at the proper height as suggested in the instructions. One thing I tend to see with the infants and toddlers I work with through early intervention, is that the baby leans to the side or is too far up on his tip toes, or worse is in the device for 30 minutes multiple times per day...yikes! Also, some parents put their babies in these devices too soon. A 3 month old should not be in a standing bouncer, jumparoo, johnny jump up, or any other similar device that can be bought at the nearby retail center. Developmentally, a 3 month old should be on his tummy, back, side, beginning to roll, sitting in your lap, being held, and briefly standing with total assistance by the adult holding him....not a standing device! However, a 3 month old could sit in a bouncy seat or infant swing...once again, on a limited basis as you wouldn't want to contribute to him getting a flat head or a delay in his motor skills! If you need tips on helping your baby tolerate tummy time, go to

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