Baby Walker: to use or not to use
Seeing your baby take that first step can be exhilarating, it took my breath away when my son walked for the first time. I remember, it was a Sunday he was 9 months 2 days old, he had learnt how to respond to being called or being told to go to someone else. I was sitting on the couch and my husband was about 3 meters away from me, he called our son who was holding on to me, the lil boy turned and took about five steps towards his dad, I was so excited, I started screaming, he turned looked at me, sat down and started crying, you see he had also learnt how to empathise with you when you are in pain.
I was one proud mother, I had not used a baby walker and here people used to tell me that boys walk later than girls, if baby has teeth then they will not walk blab la bla! My lil champ proved all those to be myths. So why did I not use a walker? I had done some research when my baby was really struggling to walk and I thought maybe I should help him a lil with a walker but from the information I got, I preferred for him to walk on his own.
NB. Some parents use walkers just so they can ‘brag’ how their children walked early, so it is not so much for the child but for the parent, perhaps let your child just grow and enjoy every milestone as it comes
Here is what I found out:
Walkers allow mobility beyond a baby’s natural capability, and faster than a parent’s reaction time. Most of the injuries involve falls down stairs, but injuries can also come, for instance, from allowing reach to hot, heavy or poisonous objects. Today’s walkers are safer, but they are still hazardous – and of no benefit to the baby.
Most injuries are caused by falls when the baby walker tips, and the baby is thrown downstairs, or crashes into furniture, heaters or ovens.
You may feel that if your baby were occupied in her walker, she could be left unwatched for short periods. In reality, extra care is needed when your baby is in a walker.
Walkers won’t help your baby learn to walk. Using one too much may even delay her development slightly by 2-3weeks. Your baby needs to learn to roll, crawl, sit and to play on the floor, in order to reach her developmental milestones.
It Interferes With Normal Development
Many parents get their baby a walker hoping that it will help their baby gain better muscle control and keep their baby’s mind occupied. It does not encourage improved strength and muscle control. Walkers, though fun, make it too easy for a baby to move around, which can cripple a baby’s natural curiosity and desire to develop his walking skills. Further, a walker prevents your child from crawling and reaching for things, and exploring his environment in the way that comes naturally to him, which can impede intellectual and psychological development.
They Weaken the Legs
Walkers don’t help babies learn to walk because they strengthen the wrong muscles. Walking requires strong upper legs and a strong back, but walkers strengthen the lower legs and actually weaken the back and lower legs. This means that when your child finally does start walking, she may not be as coordinated and may not have very strong muscles, which of course can lead to injury.
Problems With Head Control
Many parents will consider placing a child as young as 4 or 5 months old in a walker. Though these children have gained relatively strong head control, they cannot hold themselves in an upright position reliably, which means a walker can lead to head and neck injuries.
Even if your child is old enough to have the strong muscle control required by a walker, walkers provide your child with access to areas she would not otherwise have access to. Many children have backed up into bookshelves or sharp tables in their walkers. Estimates are that about 20,000 children each year go to the emergency room due to head injuries caused by walkers. Even if you think you’re watching your baby carefully, it only takes a split second for a blow to the head to be catastrophic, and the risk is simply not worth it.
The Risk of Falling
Paediatricians began to become concerned about walkers when children started falling down stairs and stoops in them. Babies can fall out of the walker when reaching for something. Though a walker may not seem very high, falling out of one or tipping over can be catastrophic.
Though babies may love walkers, the risk to babies of being in a walker is simply too great. Safer alternatives include exersaucers and jumpers, though these still require close supervision. Alternatives to walkers can be just as fun; don’t risk your baby’s safety and well-being for a few moments to yourself!
So my conclusion, would be no baby walker,
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