It seems every time I Google something to do with pregnancy or baby I am confronted with self proclaimed experts writing in a really anxiety provoking tone. Seemingly everything is DANGEROUS! So when I can, I am going to post some advice which is made up of common sense mixed with a Physiotherapy degree. Hopefully, this can dilute the hysteria prevalent when researching something simple like “are baby walkers good or bad?”. Very few things are as dangerous as they seem when browsing!
Last week I got this text from a lady in my Mothers group. Her Baby’s name is Winter. I have know Winter since she was 3 weeks old- she has followed a very normal developmental pattern. I’ve seen her sit well, crawl and pull to stand.
This is her question:
Dear Physiotherapy Guru ,
I’d like to get Winter a walker because she keeps trying to walk. I have heard they can be damaging though. Is that just an urban myth?
I was wondering if you have any comments on them being good/bad?
Hope you and the fam are all well and that you enjoy your first Mother’s Day. xxx
This is my reply:
Hey! Sounds like you are almost the Mum of a Toddler!
There are walkers…. And there are walkers! The walkers that seem to get most of the bad press are the ones where babies are supported by a sling that they sit in. Due to the wheels below they can push themselves along the floor (see first photo). These do not offer any real developmental assistance with walking. Physios seem to have less of an issue with items such as trolleys or trucks that can also be used as “walkers” – these at least help the baby develop some of the postural strength that they will need for walking (see 2nd photo).
Whichever walker you have, I would limit use to 20 min use per day. And it is important that she is not walking on tips of toes (if she is on her toes, she is not ready to walk). Apart from that, all the problems come when the child is not supervised ie. Falls down flights of stairs, pulling down hot items or dangling items from tables.
It’s just common sense. 20 min of anything movement related is ok for a baby that is following a very normal and predictable developmental pattern, as long as it’s well supervised and in a safe environment.
But it’s also important to point out that babies do not need walkers at all. Once they are standing and stepping along while holding furniture, all it takes is another month or so of practice and they will be walking alone. There is no evidence that walkers make kids walk earlier or better.
How exciting! Waking yay! Go Winter!