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Baby walkers

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A baby walker consists of a rigid frame on wheels with a sling seat. Babies can sit in the seat and move around before they are able to sit alone or crawl.

Baby walkers are not safe for babies and it is strongly advised that you do not use baby walkers.

Child safety experts recommend a stationary play centre as a safer option.

Have a look at this information about baby walkers from Product Safety Australia. It provides information about safety and the mandatory standard for baby walkers.
 http://www.productsafety.gov.au/

There is more to read in this topic on the Pregnancy, birth and baby site (Australian Government site)

Contents of this topic


Safety

In baby walkers, babies can move around quickly before they are old enough to control what they are doing, so they can run into all sorts of dangers.

  • Babies can move across a room in seconds, and quickly be in danger.
  • Babies are taller in a baby walker, and they can reach things which they would not normally be able to reach such as:
    • electrical cords in the kitchen
    • hot drinks on low tables
    • cleaning products on shelves or in open cupboards.
  • There have been a large number of head injuries to babies under 12 months from using baby walkers, especially from tipping down a step.

mandatory standard came into effect in Australia on 15 February 2013. It covers design, construction, performance and labelling requirements for baby walkers.

Development

  • Babies need to spend time playing on the floor to learn to roll, sit, crawl and walk.
  • When a baby crawls and pulls himself up while holding on to furniture he is making the muscles needed for walking stronger, and learning about balance.
  • Baby walkers do not help a baby learn to walk, and may even slow down their development. They do not learn how to balance while in a walker.
  • Babies learn to walk on their toes when pushing a baby walker around, and they may continue to walk on their toes when they start to walk. Their leg muscles may become tight.

Sales of baby walkers

  • Attempts are being made to prevent the sale of baby walkers in Australia because of their danger.

Using a baby walker

If you do decide to use a baby walker - only use it on a flat, even surface and block off access to stairs, steps, kitchens and fireplaces. 

  • Always stay near if your baby is in a baby walker so that you can stop him reaching dangerous places, and only use it for short periods at a time (15 minutes or less).
  • Make sure there is nothing your baby can run into or get hold of that will harm her, eg. fires, heaters, steps, stairs, cords etc. Baby walkers should only be used in a safe and flat area. Make your home 'walker safe'.
  • Check for compliance with the mandatory safety standard, which includes safety warning labels. These walkers have a broad base and do not tip so easily as other walkers and they have a locking mechanism that can be set so that a baby cannot move while in the walker. Look for an automatic braking system so that they cannot be easily ridden down stairs.
  • Walkers should not be used before a baby can sit alone, or after the baby can walk.

References and more to read

Product Safety Australia
 http://www.productsafety.gov.au/  

Pregnancy, birth and baby 
http://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/  

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

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