As your baby starts developing more interest out of his world, you may find it surprising that they enjoy a view from tummy and back. Many parents, in their enthusiastic effort to keep their baby happy and to see their babies on their feet, put their child in a baby walker. Walkers have more often been used under the pretext of keeping babies engaged and explore the surroundings on their own besides assuming that babies walk faster if trained in the walker. Parents use walkers mainly to keep the child entertained and give some free time for mothers generally from around 4 -6 months.
Contrary to do what the name suggests, you would be surprised to know that baby walkers do not encourage walking and are quite harmful for the reasons mentioned below according to studies from New Zealand.
- While walkers strengthen muscles in the lower legs, they do not encourage strengthen in the upper legs and hips. The vital coordination between the upper and lower body is lost. The child is left confused as to what is happening between these two regions.
- Walkers actually discourage walking as the baby learns to go around very easily without learning to walk. All he has to do his push his legs against ground and the walker does the rest. This same perception is carried over once baby starts to walk.
- Babies can become toe walkers because their feet dangle from the walker or do not reach the floor.
- Walkers have contributed to a significant number of injuries leading to head trauma.
- Other Walker-related injuries include poisoning and burns as children reach higher than expected.
In order to avoid the potential threats posed to a baby in a walker many parents have turned to Stationary walker. Similarly to the baby walker, this equipment allows the baby to sit and view the world but does not have wheels to move around. Caution must be taken with this too. Parents should avoid overuse of this product for the following reasons.
- If the stationary walker is improperly adjusted or simply too tall, it may cause the baby to sit with legs dangling or toes supporting their weight. This can result in shortening of the Achilles tendon as with the walker, making it difficult for the baby to place their feet flat on the floor for walking. Babies lose the ability of proprioception and remain confused once they are on their feet.
- A combination of balance muscle strength and control are necessary for independent sitting. Both walker and stationary walker allow the baby to sit without needing to develop these skills. Your baby will remain dependent on these fancy equipment where in it could be better off exploring the world on its own according to its own pace.
- Parents should keep in mind that while the stationary walker gives the baby an opportunity to see the world from higher perspective it does not encourage any movement expect with hands, besides giving mums some time off from carrying baby all the time.
The best way to encourage your baby to learn to walk is to provide plenty of play on the floor. Falls here and there are sure to happen, but best to keep it simple sometimes.