Last Updated On November 20th, 2018
There has been a lot of debate about whether baby walkers can cause development delays. There have been several studies that have investigated whether this is the case and the majority of these have shown that babies that use walkers may start walking later than those who don’t. Some studies also noticed that these differences in development were more marked if the babies were born prematurely and there could be significant differences in terms of balance and the alignment of the legs.
The Potential Issue
Differences were also noted in the development of babies between the types of walkers that were used. Newer style walkers may have trays attached to them which have toys that the baby can play with as they move round. The problem with these types of walkers is that the baby is unable to see their feet. This means that even though they are able to move around, they are not able to visualise the steps that they are taking and this is an essential skill when learning to walk. While the toys on the tray may be teaching them other gross motor skills, they can distract the baby from the act of walking altogether and so they have no idea how to transfer the concept of walking into doing it unaided.
There are older versions of baby walkers that do not have these trays, and babies that used this style of walker were only slightly behind babies that did not use a walker at all in terms of the age that they did start to walk. However, these types of walkers do not have the safety features of the newer style such as bumpers that can help protect the baby in the event of a collision. This will obviously be a concern for parents because it is possible for babies to be able to push off in the walker with some force and this means that they can travel quite fast.
However, none of these studies showed that there were any lasting developmental problems that occurred in babies that used walkers. While they may have started walking later than other babies there were no lasting issues with mobility that were reported. It should also be noted that all babies develop at different rates and there could be other factors that influence this development as well as the fact that the baby has used a walker. Many of these studies did not take these other factors, such as the social class of the baby and the education level of the parents, into account.
The choice whether to use a baby walker or not will ultimately be down to the parents and even though some studies have argued that they should be banned altogether this is not something that has come into effect yet. If you are a parent that is considering buying a walker then it is important that you are aware of the potential problems that could arise so that you are able to make an informed decision. Some parents find that their babies just generally do not enjoy being in a walker and do not make any attention to move.