Baby walkers send thousands of children to hospitals every year. Read about why they are not safe and what you can do.
Children in baby walkers can:
Roll down the stairs—which often causes broken bones and severe head injuries. This is how most children get hurt in baby walkers.
Get burned—a child can reach higher in a walker. It is now easier for a child to pull a tablecloth off a table and spill hot coffee, grab pot handles off the stove, and reach radiators, fireplaces or space heaters.
Drown—child can fall into a pool or bathtub while in a walker.
Pool Dangers and Drowning Prevention―When It's Not Swimming Time for more information.
Be poisoned—reaching high objects is easier in a walker.
There are no benefits to baby walkers
Many parents think walkers will help their children learn to walk. But they don't. In fact, walkers can actually delay when a child starts to walk.
Why baby walkers are never safe
Most walker injuries happen while adults are watching. Parents or caregivers simply cannot respond quickly enough. A child in a walker can move more than 3 feet in 1 second! That is why walkers are never safe to use, even with an adult close by.
Baby walker safety regulations fall short
Since 1997, baby walkers are made so they can't fit through most doors, or they have brakes to stop them at the edge of a step. However, some may still have wheels, so children can still move fast and reach higher.
The AAP has called for a ban on the manufacture and sale of baby walkers with wheels. Baby walkers are already banned in Canada. Under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, Canadians are not allowed to manufacture, import, advertise or sell baby walkers.
What parents can do
Throw out your baby walkers! Also, be sure that there are no walkers wherever your child is being cared for, such as child care centers or in someone else's home.
Try alternatives to baby walkers that are just as enjoyable but safer, like:
Stationary activity centers—they look like walkers but have no wheels. They usually have seats that rotate, tip, and bounce.
Play yards or playpens—these are great safety zones for children as they learn to sit, crawl, or walk.
High chairs—older children often enjoy sitting up in a high chair and playing with toys on the tray.
One way you can keep your child safe from injury is to throw away your baby walker.