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  • Doctors Want Infant Walkers Banned From Sale and Use: 'It's Dangerous'

    Skull fractures, concussions, and broken bones are the common injuries when babies use walkers.
    by Rachel Perez .
Doctors Want Infant Walkers Banned From Sale and Use: 'It's Dangerous'
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Experts have already debunked the myths surrounding the use of baby walkers, stressing the injuries it can cause babies and toddlers. And now the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is pushing for a complete ban on making and selling of infant walkers in the U.S., to prevent the many injuries it causes among babies and toddlers. 

    In the U.S., infant walkers continue to be a common reason children end up in the emergency room. A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics showed that more than 230,000 children younger than 15 months old were treated the emergency room hospitals from 1990 to 2014. That's an average of 2,000 children being treated for skull fractures, concussions, broken bones, and other walker-related injuries. 

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    The AAP said infant walkers give parents a false sense of security. A baby in a walker can travel at speeds up to one meter per second. It gives parents little time to react to dangerous situations. This further increases the young children's risk of getting injuries by having access to heaters, hot beverages, and poisons.

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    "I view infant walkers as inherently dangerous objects that have no benefit whatsoever and should not be sold in the U.S.," says Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, M.D., a pediatrician who chairs the AAP's Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention, told the NPR.

    Learning how to walk is a huge milestone. However, walkers do not help babies learn how to walk — in fact, it may even cause a delay in motor skills development. Babies need to watch and understand how their feet and legs work to learn how to walk. They cannot do this with the walker's tray obstructing their view from the waist down. 

    Infant walkers also contribute to a baby's delay in reaching this milestone by giving them less motivation to learn how their legs and feet work. Babies in walkers gives them the freedom of movement but it doesn't provide them with the developmental ability to control where they go or when to stop. 

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    The APP has been on a mission to prohibit sale and use of infant walkers, from the time it submitted a petition to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in 1992. Since then, there have been stricter safety standards for walkers, including walker trays being wider than a doorway and installing friction strips that act as brakes, on top of testing requirements. 

    Despite the decline in injuries, however, infant walkers remain a preventable source of injury among young children. The product label warnings and the safety risks it poses to young children have not been enough to deter parents from buying them. The AAP proposes the same ban on rules manufacture, sale, and import on infant walkers that Canada had in place since 2004. 

    As an alternative to using baby walkers, the AAP recommends stationary activity centers for baby. These activity centers should be without wheels and yet still allow a child to rock, bounce, and swivel without being at risk for falling down the stairs and other hazards.

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