Do babies need a baby walker?
As dads, we take pride in teaching a skill to our children especially those skills that help them face the world.
One of the earliest skills we teach our children is walking, and when they take those first steps, the elation we get is beyond compare.
We want to give them the tools to succeed and in the case of walking, baby walkers are thought to help babies master this skill.
But do babies really need baby walkers?
My son did not use a baby walker and he still learned to walk by himself at eleven months. We didn’t get him a baby walker primarily because our home was much too small for one.
Another reason was that I thought sitting in a baby walker didn’t look like a good training for walking.
I’m not against baby walkers, I’m sure most of us used baby walkers when we were babies and we’re fine.
Baby walker use
Baby walkers have been around for a few hundred years as you can see from the images on this post.
I don’t know if they are still available until now, but I have seen the rattan baby walkers when I was younger. It had no wheels and no seat, unfortunately I didn’t see it in action (it’s very similar to the baby walker on the next image).
When you go to the baby section at the mall today you’ll see different kinds of baby walkers being sold. Some can be converted to only jumping, some have lots of toys, and some with a tray for eating.
While regulations for baby items (or most things) are lax or non-existent in the Philippines, make sure that the baby walker you get will pass the latest standard from somewhere else like European standard EN 1273:2005.
Consider also that research data indicates that baby walker use has been linked to a lot of accidents with babies.
Dangers of using a baby walker
Canada has completely banned the sale and use of baby walkers with very stiff penalties for the offenders. The American Academy of Pediatrics also highly discourages the use of baby walkers and has also proposed to ban the sale/use of it.
According to their research data, the use of baby walkers has led to injuries from falling, tipping over, burns, and poisoning. Although it may seem that lack of parental supervision leads to these accidents, the speed of the baby walker could be too fast for a parent to catch up even when the baby is properly supervised.
Another thing to consider is that there is actually NO evidence that using a baby walker helps a baby to learn walking earlier.
Always remember that all babies develop at different rates, and I think there is really no need to rush the development of an infant.
If you think your baby is lagging, it is best to consult your baby’s pediatrician. I think that motor skill progression to walking comes naturally to an infant, and parents should be there to assist and not rush the baby.
Helping a baby learn to walk starts all the way at the beginning, by giving baby tummy time to strengthen the muscles. Lots of practice at each developmental stage will set the course for baby to take those very first steps.
Give baby time to sit up, crawl, pull up to standing and cruise around the house when he/she reaches these milestones.
Walking practice is very important for a baby learn how to take those first steps alone, which might be the reason baby walkers were invented in the first place. If you are concerned about the safety considerations of using a baby walker, there are also parent assisted baby walkers available.
Parent assisted baby walkers
You can also use a sheet of cloth or blanket as an assisted baby walker like the ladies above instead of just using your hands and hurting your back. I got this advise from my wife’s uncle and my back haunts me for not taking it.
I think the advantage of using assisted baby walker is avoiding head bumps when baby falls. In my opinion, it is also important for a baby to learn how to fall the right way and how to get back up because do you know what comes after walking?
Running. By learning how to fall right, injuries from running will be minimized, hopefully.
As with most parenting decisions, it is all up to you as a parent to weigh the pros and cons and do what you think is right for your child.
How did you teach your baby to walk on his/her own? Did your baby use a baby walker? Share with us on the comments.