Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Danger of Baby Walker

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Growing Up

When Will My Baby Start Walking?

Babies develop at their own pace.
Typically, they start cruising (holding onto furniture to walk sideways) from 8 - 12 months old, and start walking from 10 - 15 months.

These ranges provide a guideline to baby's development. However, if your baby is delayed in achieving these basic motor milestones, consult your paediatrician or physiotherapist for advice.

How Does My Baby Learn To Walk?

Walking is controlled by the 2 different systems in the brain, known as the motor and sensory systems. They control the leg movements, and maintain the posture and balance in walking respectively.

Your baby's body then awaits basic changes in body proportion - the legs grow longer, shoulders broaden, and the head smaller - making it easier to balance in an upright posture.

Walkind depends on practice. Babies must clock many hours of standing, cruising and walking with some type of support before they can develop the strength and balance to walk on their own.

Should My Baby Use A Walker?

A walker does not help your baby to learn to walk. It is dangerous and potentially fatal. In fact, Canada has already banned the sale of baby walkers.

How Is The Baby Walker More A Weapon Than A Tool?

Danger 1: Baby walkers cause babies to walk later

Baby walkers don't help babies walk earlier. In fact, walkers may even delay your baby's movement skill development or discourage him from learning to walk on his own.

Most walkers are designed such that babies are not able to see their feet while walking. This can slow down development of movement as they are unable to make mental connection that it is their legs and feet that are moving the walker.

Walkers make it too easy for babies to move around. Babies who are in walkers tend to explore and satisfy their curiosity without developing their balance or walking skills. This may lead to slower development of balance and walking skills. Studies have shown that babies who spent 2 hours each day in the walker were more delayed in walking than babies who did not use a walker.

Danger 2: Baby walkers cause abnormal walking pattern

The baby's legs are not straight when "walking" in the walker. The hips and knees are bent and he will tend to walk on tiptoe. This causes him to use and develop the wrong leg muscles for walking. Such abnormal walking pattern may be difficult to correct even when he is out of the walker.

Studies have shown that walking pattern of babies worsen with the use of walkers especially if they are already walking in an abnormal way.

Danger 3: Baby walkers can cause serious injuries

Walkers are unsafe. Babies can reac a speed of 1 meter per second in a walker, which is too fast even for an attentive parent to catch should the child speed towards an open door, down the stairs or towards a boiling pot.

So How Can I Encourage My Baby To Learn To Walk?

Discar the walker. Use a playpen or play-centre that is stationary. Alternatively, allow a safe, unrestricted floor space for exploration.

Help your baby exercise his muscles e.g. supported standing or cruising.
Provide sensory stimulation e.g. baby massage.

Provide vestibluar stimulation e.g. rocking, bouncing or swing baby.

Breast-feeding may help to strengthen baby's muscles.

What If My Child Has An Abnormal Walking Pattern?

Consult your doctor if you notice that your child is walking on his toes or on the sides of the feet.

Article from KK Women's and Children's Hospital.


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