For many years baby walkers were treated as equipment supporting children in learning to walk. Today specialists - physiologists and orthopedists - are unanimous: baby walkers are not the right form of developmental support, they do more harm than good. In this article we warn against the negative impact of baby walkers on the development of children, and also propose a healthy alternative.
Baby walker - what is it?
Baby walker is a device on wheels, which is intended to support the ability of toddlers to walk and protect them from falling. It consists of two parts - a frame with wheels and a seat, where you put the child. A baby sitting in a baby walker cannot get out of it by itself, so the equipment is sometimes also used as a support for parents who need to rest for a while from constantly following their toddler. In reality, however, baby walkers disturb the correct development of a child and lead to numerous postural defects.
When can a child use a baby walker?
Is there a safe moment to offer a baby walker? Specialists believe that no. At no stage of development is it recommended to support the development of a child's motor skills with this device. Sometimes, however, you can find information that says that from a certain age baby walkers will no longer be so dangerous for toddlers. Some people point out the moment when the child can crawl on its own. Others claim that the earliest you can put a baby in a walker is when they can sit up. And still others suggest that the time for a baby walker comes when the child takes its first independent steps. But is it worth limiting children's natural expression with an impractical device? The answer seems obvious.
Types of baby walkers
On the market you'll find a large number of different types of baby walkers, which differ mainly in additional functions or complexity. Generally, you'll find baby walkers on wheels, the classic ones, where the child sits inside and pushes its legs against the floor, thus moving. This is helped by rotating wheels. But there are also 3-in-1 walkers, which have the function of a ride-on and a bicycle at the same time. Whether we are talking about a multifunctional version or a classic version, baby walkers differ from each other with accessories. Many of them are small command centers with numerous interactive toys that shine, play and encourage your baby to push.
Advantages of a baby walker
If you are very keen on it, you may be tempted to point out a few advantages of a baby walker, which, however, we do not recommend. First of all, a baby walker can be convenient for a parent who needs to place the baby in some safe space. But a playpen is much better for this purpose. It can also not be denied that some children like to use baby walkers - because thanks to them they are mobile and can quickly cover quite large distances.
Disadvantages of baby walkers
In contrast to the advantages, the list of disadvantages of baby walkers is long. First of all, baby walkers have a negative impact on the development of children, delaying the formation of motor skills, as well as mental skills - they aggravate postural defects, poorly affect the development of limbs and disrupt the sense of balance. The subsection "Are baby walkers advisable for a child?" tells more about those issues. But these are not all the disadvantages of this device.
Baby walkers can give parents a false sense of security. Some people treat them like playpens. This is a very big mistake that can bring serious consequences. Babies move very fast in baby walkers, so even when they are taken care of, they can escape unexpectedly. A great danger is any unevenness, not to mention stairs. Some experts say that many accidents involving children - such as burns and crashes - have occurred precisely when the child was in a walker.
Features of a good baby walker?
What to look for when choosing a baby walker? Be sure to check that the baby walker you choose is approved and certified. Baby walkers, just like other baby equipment, must meet safety standards, even those regulated by European Union regulations. Check if the model you are interested in has a brake, which allows you to block the walker, so that the child cannot move.
It is also good to choose a baby walker that will grow with your child, i.e. one with a height adjustment function - children grow fast and this option makes them grow out of it a bit later. For the same reason, it is also important that the baby walker has a wide weight range.
Castors are also important - it is best to go for rubber ones as they grip the floor well and, in addition, do not scratch it. The seats, on the other hand, should be made of fabric, so that they do not cause burns. The harness should also be delicate and made of fabric to avoid scrapes on the child's skin.
Are baby walkers suitable for children?
To the question whether baby walkers are advisable for children there can be only one answer: definitely not! Why? Because they lead to many disorders: developmental, biological and psychological. A child in a baby walker learns to walk more slowly and incorrectly, its spine is deformed, as are its toes and pelvis. According to physiotherapists, baby walkers also develop children's fear of failure, reluctance to take on new challenges and lack of self-confidence.
When moving in a baby walker, a child steps on his or her toes and not on his or her whole feet. There is no so-called repulsion, so the foot does not work properly. As a result, the toddler does not practice shifting the body weight from foot to foot. This is an easy way to foot valgus.
A baby in a walker does not exercise the right parts of muscles: pelvis, legs, trunk, which are responsible for the right posture of a child. At the same time it puts strain on those parts of the body that it shouldn't - for example, toes, causing its valgus, or its spine, especially the lumbar section, which distorts it, leading to lumbar hyperlordosis.
Physiotherapists also warn that a baby walker may cause mental disorders. A child is unable to estimate distances or to keep its balance, because until now the baby walker has done that for them. The child is afraid to walk on his or her own, simply because he or she has not learned to protect himself or herself from falling. They are reluctant to walk on their own. As a consequence, a child who has used a baby walker takes their first steps later than other children, is more timid, less confident and, in addition, burdened with bad posture habits.
Baby ride-on - a healthy alternative to a baby walker
A healthy and developmentally supportive alternative to a baby walker is a baby ride-on. It is a device that allows a child to ride by pushing their legs against the floor on either side of a ride-on. A child sits on this equipment and keeps balance by holding the handle. Babies can get off the toy at any time, and sitting on it, they naturally adopt a proper posture. Examples of such equipment are our two devices - CUTIE and 4TRIKE, which take forms of tricycles supporting the development of the sense of balance and preparing motor skills for riding a bike. The latter is a 3-in-1 bicycle - it can be both a tricycle and a two-wheeler balance bike, but also a tricycle with pedals. Each function is related to a different stage of the child's development.