Baby walkers have been around since as far back at 1851, but as technology has improved they have become more popular. Basically, the device is one that supports children, usually aged between four and 16 months, who cannot walk, to move from one place to another. Chances are, you've probably used one when you were young or have seen them around before.
When an infant is growing and developing, its body is changing and strengthening at a rapid pace. Everything that a baby or toddler does affects the way their spine and nervous system develops – ultimately impacting the quality of health they enjoy during growth and in later life.
For parents, this time is often an exciting one, as they explore the different challenges and milestones, but it can also be confusing. Particularly with the number of appliances, toys and aids that are on the market, it’s hard to know what tools are the most effective for helping your child in their development.
In recent years, Melbourne chiropractors and paediatricians alike have called for parents to reconsider whether baby walkers are suitable for children. Industry research has even revealed that one in every three infants who use walkers suffer significant injuries including skull fractures, concussion, spinal fracture, finger amputations and even death. Aside from the life-changing and detrimental affects that can come as a result, baby walkers may also impede the healthy development of children.
Firstly, while many parents and manufacturers believe that walkers may help children learn how to walk. However, studies suggest that use of a walker can actually lead to locomotor problems and skewed walking patterns. Furthermore, if assisted walking replaces crawling stages of development, children may in fact be missing out on important cognitive learning skills.
If you’re still dubious about the risks, however, it’s been proven that infants who use walkers both sat, crawled and walked later that those who did not. Plus, their spinal development was also affected by prematurely forcing children to assume an upright position.
The use of baby walkers is harmful for young children in that their bone strength and muscular coordination may not naturally be able to cope with certain pressures during this time, and prematurely encouraging such unnatural behaviours may cause detriment to their long-term development.
If you’re concerned about the health of your child’s spine or have any concerns about the toys or tools they’ve been engaged with, please don’t hesitate to bring it up at your next visit to us.
Your Chiropractor at Well By Design Chiropractic can assess the developmental phases of a child’s development and help boost their spinal and immune health, giving them the best possible start to life.