Despite all the warnings of the hazards of baby walkers, thousands of babies still end up with walker-related injuries each year.
Changes in safety standards have resulted in a sharp decrease in the number of babies injured by infant walkers. “In 1997, a voluntary safety standard required the base of baby walkers to be wider than a standard 36-inch doorway, or to have a device that automatically engages a brake if one of the wheels drops over the edge of a step, researchers said.” (UPI) If one of these two requirements was met, the manufacturer could add a sticker to the product saying it is certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. In 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) made these requirements mandatory. These standards made it so that CPSC could stop noncomplying imported walkers from coming into the U.S.
However, research shows that even after these standards became mandatory, emergency room doctors still continue to see around 2,000 children a year for these injuries.
Even with all the educational campaigns and warning labels, parents still underestimate the safety risk of these devices.
Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide’s Children’s Hospital says, “Many parents believe baby walkers offer their children entertainment, promote walking, and provide a baby activity while parents are doing something else.” He says these products actually do not promote walking, but instead may delay mental and motor development.
However, Smith is not blaming parents for these injuries. “These are good parents who were carefully supervising their children and using the baby walker as intended. Their only error was that they believed the myth that baby walkers are safe to use.”
In just a second, a baby can move four feet in a walker. That’s not near enough time for a parent to stop a baby from falling down stairs, or reaching for something dangerous.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has called for a ban on baby walkers with wheels. It suggests parents throw away walkers in their homes and entertain their children in stationary activity centers and other activities. The devices have no developmental advantages, and create a risk for children, according to the AAP.” (CNN)
Causes of Injury:
- Most common injury (74.1%) – falling down stairs
- Falling out of walker
- Proximity-related injuries: the child being able to reach something he/she would normally be unable to reach
Types of Injuries:
- More than 90% of incidents led to head and neck injuries.
Smith says a safer option for babies is stationary activity centers. These hold the baby in an upright sitting position, but have no wheels. They have fun activities that are within the baby’s reach, and are excellent for a baby’s development. Other safe options are play yards or playpens, and high chairs.
If parents insist on purchasing a walker anyway, please follow these safety tips:
- Block stairs with a closed door or gate.
- Keep children within view.
- Keep children away from hot surfaces and objects.
- Keep children away from dangling cords, toilets and swimming pools.
Contact David L. Hood If You’ve Been Hurt by a Defective Product in South Carolina
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Other online resources used for this article:
American Academy of Pediatrics: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Baby-Walkers-A-Dangerous-Choice.aspx