Are baby walkers good or bad? This is a question that has been debated for years, and many parents still have no idea. Why are baby walkers bad, according to some parents and even parenting experts? Mainly, they would argue that baby walkers are unsafe and do not help with your baby’s motor development at all. On the other hand, other parents swear by baby walkers – claiming that it does help babies learn to walk faster and that it’s an entertaining toy for babies.
So, are baby walkers good for your baby? Or why are baby walkers bad? Here are some things you need to know about baby walkers before getting one for your baby.
While Baby Walkers Are Common In Singapore, They’re Banned Elsewhere
Baby walkers are commonplace in Singapore – you’ll easily find them on sale in places like Toys’R’Us or Kiddy Palace – so you might be surprised to know that they are banned for sale in Canada. In fact, the sale of baby walkers have been banned in Canada since 2004! So why are baby walkers bad – or even dangerous, according to Canada’s health regulators? The ban happened after a worrying number of babies were showing up in hospitals because of concussions and broken bones due to the misuse of baby walkers. The numbers are quite alarming – in the US alone about 2,000 babies go to the emergency room every year because of baby walkers, in a 2018 article by Vox.
3 Reasons Why Baby Walkers Are Bad For Your Baby
There are several reasons why Singapore parents should avoid baby walkers for their babies. Here are 3 of those reasons that are most serious:
1) Baby Walkers Slow Your Baby’s Motor Development
When parents buy baby walkers, it’s usually with the intention of helping their baby learn to walk faster. You might purchase a baby walker because you get worried seeing your baby stumble and fall while learning to walk. And while it can be heart-breaking to see your little one struggle, it’s these struggles that actually help develop your baby’s motor skills. Babies need that much-needed exercise during their early years.
However, with most baby walkers – especially when turned to an upright position – do not allow your baby to get the needed exercise he or she needs! When your baby becomes reliant on a baby walker, simple but important milestones such as crawling, rolling, pulling on things may be totally bypassed. And when these important milestones are skipped, your baby’s motor development will get delayed.
2) Your Baby Can Get Easily Injured When On A Baby Walker
It’s very important to keep a close eye on your baby when he or she is on a mobility device like a baby walker. Many parents get a baby walker not only because they think it’ll help with their baby’s walking but also because it keeps the baby occupied. And while it may be fun for your baby to move around the house, this can also lead to serious injuries. The alarming amount of babies getting injured with the use of baby walkers was the main reason why Canada banned baby walkers in the first place.
It’s quite easy to understand why a baby walker can be dangerous: giving your baby too much mobility when that’s not something he or she is used to is never a good thing.
3) Your Baby May Develop An Abnormal Walking Pattern
While baby walkers may slow your baby’s motor development, another danger is that with prolonged use, your baby may develop an abnormal walking pattern. Have you ever observed how a baby’s feet looks when in a baby walker? Babies tiptoe around a lot when in baby walkers to try and reach the ground. This is a very bad habit because babies who use baby walkers may walk on their toes even when out of the walker. Ultimately, this can result in an abnormal, uncomfortable walking pattern.
Another bad habit which may develop is that your baby may take shorter walking steps after prolonged use of the baby walker. This is because a baby walker allows a baby to move around quickly with minimal steps due to the help of wheels. Once the baby walker is removed, your baby may not be as competent as other babies in taking longer strides – simply because your baby did not learn to walk naturally.
Is there a good alternative to a baby walker?
Truly, the best alternative is to still let your baby learn to walk naturally. If your baby is a newborn, start with a few minutes of tummy time each day and slowly increase the duration once your little one becomes more comfortable with it. This will eventually lead to crawling, standing up and then walking. This may not be as exciting as using a baby walker, but at least your baby will properly hit the important developmental milestones.
However, if you’re looking for other means to keep your baby entertained, consider these alternatives!
Baby jumpers allow your baby to bounce up and down while attached to a stationary base. Unlike baby walkers, your baby will not be able to move around the house on a baby jumper. This greatly eliminates the chances of your baby getting injured by bumping into things or toppling over.
Baby jumpers are also reasonably safe for babies – just don’t let your baby spend too much time on it! Try to limit your baby’s time in a baby jumper to 10-15 minutes a day, otherwise you may be placing too much strain on your baby’s legs.
Push toys are a great alternative to baby walkers, even though they do take up lots of space in our cramped Singapore homes. Unlike baby walkers, push toys can actually help your baby learn to walk. The key benefit of push toys is that they allow your baby to see his or her feet and allow standing in a much more natural way compared to baby walkers.
However, push toys still provide your baby with a great deal of mobility so always keep a close eye on your baby when he or she is on the push toy.
How To Ensure Your Baby’s Developmental Milestones Are On Track
As parents, we tend to worry a lot about our babies hitting developmental milestones. And while developmental milestones are a useful guideline, don’t get overly stressed or place stress on your baby when these milestones aren’t hit. Every baby develops at a different pace, and as parents it’s our job to nurture our little ones to their fullest potential – without causing unnecessary stress.
If you’d like to learn more about helping your child develop physical, intellectual, emotional and social excellence – without placing stress on your child, then come and join us for an upcoming webinar called Nurture Your Child’s Full Potential!
We’re inviting Patricia Zoey from The Early Brain Academy to share more about raising a smarter and happier baby. This is free for parents, and is highly suitable for you if you have a baby or toddler aged 0-3. Click here to get registered now!