Warning: The dangers of infant walkers
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) — The Consumer Product Safety Commission recognizes September as National Baby Safety Awareness month, making now a good time for parents to take stock of toys or products they have in the home that might be unsafe.
Researchers say infant walkers are sending 2,000 babies a year to the emergency department despite federal safety standards and years of warnings.
It’s exciting for parents to watch their babies up on their feet, but infant walkers with wheels are toys that emergency room doctors and pediatricians have come to hate.
“Parents don’t understand how quickly they can move. They can move up to 4 feet per second in a walker," said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, Director, CIRP, Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Smith studied injuries from infant walkers since new safety guidelines were adopted in 2010. Among other things, it strengthened the testing of baby walkers to see if they come to a stop when a wheel goes over a step. During the study period, the number of injuries dropped dramatically from 20,650 in 1990 to 2,001 in 2014.
“It’s still not enough. We need to eliminate the hazard. We need to make these products unavailable,” Dr. Smith said.
Researchers say some parents think the activity will help a baby strengthen their legs.
“That has actually been proven to be false. Not only does it not help you walk more quickly, but it actually can delay your walking because it’s teaching the child to walk in a different way,” said Tracy Mehan, Manager, Translational Research Team at CIRP, Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Instead of infant walkers, researchers suggest an exersaucer with activity center.
“There’s plenty of toys to keep the child entertained. It can spin, but it doesn’t have wheels,” Mehan said.
Mehan cautions parents not to try do-it-yourself walkers, which have been featured on social media sites. Also, be wary of hand-me-down infant walkers.
Baby walkers are banned in Canada. Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for a similar ban on the manufacture and sale of infant walkers in the U.S.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Kirk Mason, Videographer.