American pediatricians have been calling for walkers to be banned since many of 2018's new parents were children themselves. Though watching babies scoot around in their walkers is adorable, the sad truth is that doctors treat more than 2,000 babies each year for injuries sustained while using them.
I view infant walkers as inherently dangerous objects that have no benefit whatsoever and should not be sold in the U.S.
From 1990 to 2014, more than 230,000 children under 15 months old were treated for "skull fractures, concussions, broken bones and other injuries" that occurred while using baby walkers.
Walkers are designed to let babies who haven't started walking on their own roll around on four wheels, but the babies haven't yet developed the motor skills to control their movement precisely, and often find themselves taking dangerous paths or even falling down stairs.
Many consumer groups joined doctors' calls for a ban all the way back in 1992, which has led to a sharp reduction in the number of injuries caused by walkers, from 21,000 that year to only 3,200 in 2003. The situation further improved in 2010 when the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission mandated several security improvements to the products, including "installing brakes to prevent stair falls." As a result of the new safety regulations, injuries dropped an additional 23%.
But there are still too many injuries for comfort, according to Dr. Gary Smith:
Despite this great success, there are still 2,000 children a year being treated for injuries, many of them serious injuries, in emergency departments. Therefore, we support the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics that baby walkers should not be sold or used. There's absolutely no reason these products should still be on the market.
Though she has seen a decrease in the number of injuries, Dr. Jerri Rose, a pediatric emergency physician and professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, is concerned because parents often use the walkers as a "babysitter," turning away and letting their children explore on their own.
Dr.Rose said simply:
They're really not safe.
The walkers allow children to reach areas they often didn't have access to, including stairs, pools, bathtubs, and kitchens. Dr. Smith says a baby in a walker can travel up to four feet per second, which could let them get into trouble even if a parent is watching:
Parents bought the myth that if they watched their children carefully they wouldn't get into trouble. But that was a myth.
Twitter users joined the call to protect infants:
Others responded with a bit more snark:
Dr. Rose recommends parents use stationary activity centers to entertain their child while keeping them in one place. It's important to know the safety risks of every product you load your infant into. While walkers are a common cause of injury, a recent study found that:
Improper use of infant walkers, baby carriers, strollers, changing tables and bath seats brings children 3 years or younger into U.S. hospitals to be treated for injuries every eight minutes.
There's a reason babies can't walk until the time is right!