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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How Safe Are Baby Walkers?

TODAY’S parents are taken in by brightly coloured and multi-gadget baby walkers. They do not realise that walkers can hardly help their babies to walk. In fact, they can be quite dangerous when the baby is placed inside a walker and not supervised properly.

Babies need open spaces that are safe and clean for them to explore, and adult supervision to ensure their safety and give them encouragement and support in learning to walk. Children like to move freely. When they do so, they gain better control of their movements and learn to become spatially aware of their surroundings. As they learn to move around on their own, they grow more confident.

If you want to entertain your child, he would be happier sitting on a mat on the floor, playing with developmentally appropriate and safe toys, one at a time. The American Association of Paediatrics has stated that there is a high percentage of injury caused by walkers during the child’s first year.

With every child’s product, there are safety procedures to follow. Unfortunately, in most households, these procedures are adhered to only at the beginning. When the box is thrown out, along with the paper that states the safety measures, very little attention is paid to safety at later times. There was one case of a baby who was barely one year old, who was killed when he tripped sitting in his baby walker. The metal rim of the walker hit him on the head. His grandmother who was supervising him had left him for a brief moment to turn off the fire on the stove.

I often wonder why parents put their children in walkers. If they are at the crawling stage, why can’t they crawl? One neighbour told me: “All my children have been in walkers. It’s just how it is done.” There is no known benefit that baby walkers help children to walk.

Children who spend their time in walkers hardly get the exercise they need for their legs. They cannot anticipate how much strength to use nor do they know how to put the right foot forward. All they do in walkers is to push and the walker moves them forward or backward. The walkers sold these days are getting more sophisticated. Parents claim that their children are entertained and kept occupied in walkers. Sadly, those who use walkers as a kind of “babysitting” device have often left the babies on their own.

Many assume that when a child is confined in a walker, he or she is safe. Many parents are unaware of the possible dangers these baby walkers can cause. The new models have conformed to most recent safety standards but the possibility of injury and death exists as long as children are able to move quickly in the walkers.

When it comes to placing babies or toddlers on high chairs, parents should also reconsider their reasons for using them. According to educationist and physician Maria Montessori, children ought to sit on low stools when eating as they feel more secure when their feet can touch the ground instead of dangling in the air when they are sitting in high chairs. Moreover, many children have pushed themselves up and fallen from their high chairs, especially when they were not safely strapped in. - thestar

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