The American Academy of Pediatrics is once again calling to put a ban on infant walkers.
I know, I know, babies on wheels. It’s fun! It’s cute! But, as emergency rooms around the country can attest, it’s freakin’ dangerous, with 2,000 children a year showing up with injuries sustained while cruising around in a walker.
The problem with infant walkers is multifaceted.
Manufacturers have tried to address some of the more pressing safety issues, but kids are still getting hurt. Why? In a nutshell, infant walkers can easily lull you into a false sense of security.
Maybe it’s the cute songs or the pastel colored jungle animals, but infant walkers look safe – and to be clear, they absolutely can be when used correctly. Plus, they are designed for kids, so it’s easy to see how one (raises hand) might pop their kid in there, and then take 47 glorious seconds to pee alone.
In many cases this isn’t an issue. There are plenty of homes where you don’t have to worry about stairs or pools or pits that open up to the gates of Hell. But those 47 seconds of unsupervised wheeling is what the AAP is concerned with because babies are constantly upping how much mayhem they can get into, in surprisingly short periods of time.
The combination of mobile abilities, and the reality of how complex fully baby proofing your space can be is what has the AAP all twitchy about what to do with infant walkers.
But a ban on infant walkers? Is that necessary?
The idea of putting a ban on infant walkers is hardly new, with Canada banning them in 2004.
Even with tighter regulations and clear warnings printed on the toy, serious injuries are still occurring. Broken bones, fractured skulls, burns, even drownings – infant walkers are behind some horrific and completely avoidable injuries. So why do we keep using them? People used to think they helped babies learn how to walk quicker, but that has since been disproven. There are even studies showing they might slow development. All this sort of begs the question of if you really need one, or if there’s something else that might do the job.
What if I already have one?
You’re a smart cookie. You know your space. Infant walkers can be used safely. You just need to think through all the different safety hazards that become relevant the second you raise your child a foot off the ground and put them on wheels. Think about things the can now reach, pull on top of themselves, roll down, crash into… you get the picture.
Is there a safer option?
The truth is babies don’t really need the ability to speedily travel unassisted around your house. Things like exersaucers, playards, and even jumpers allow for contained play, with all kinds of different options for physical activity. And even better yet (when used correctly), they don’t pose a serious risk for injuries.
Of course, there are an infinite number of other ways your baby could land themselves in the ER this year, but banning – or just avoiding – infant walkers if you don’t have a safe space for them to be used properly might be worth considering.