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Are ExerSaucers/walkers/jumpers bad for children or is that simply a misconception?

I have been deliberating whether I should buy a walker for my 11 month old baby. I was hoping that it'll enable him to learn to walk early, but after some googling I have come across several articles that warn against the dangers of using a walker.

The one that strikes me as most scary is: http://consults.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/22/the-dangers-of-baby-walkers/

Is there any truth to these warnings?

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I added a sample image because I didn't know what a baby walker is before I googled it just now. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Apr 1 '12 at 18:31
    
Thanks @TorbenGundtofte-Bruun ! –  Anup Apr 1 '12 at 19:41
    
They as dangerous as the adult walkers. If you get bit, you still become a zombie. –  DA01 Apr 2 '12 at 3:19
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marked as duplicate by Beofett Apr 2 '12 at 12:06

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2 Answers

When I was a baby, in 1981, walkers were all the rage. I was walking when I was seven and a-half months old. Apparently, I more or less skipped crawling altogether.

I don't know about physical or mental developmental delays associated with walkers, but the dangers of my kids injuring themselves in one was enough for me to never buy one for them, and if you have carpet in your house it's pretty useless anyway. My son walked when he was 13 months old, and my daughter was 15 months which is a pretty average age for walking.

Here is a good article that discusses what to look for if you do decide to buy a walker. Things like making sure it's wide enough to not fit through a standard-size door, a gripping mechanism that prevents the walker from falling down stairs if one wheel does happen to fall over the edge of a step, etc.

If your son is 11 months old and is crawling/creeping/pulling up like he should be, then you've probably missed your window as he'll probably be walking with or without the walker in the next 3-5 months or so anyway, and there are other ways to encourage him to walk. We always had a lot of success with push-toys (stay away from the ball-popper--it will drive you crazy). Just out of curiosity, why do you want your son to walk early?

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Since the movement of pushing a walker is completely different than the muscle movement and balance required to walk, I do not think that a walker will offer you any advantages in helping your child learn to walk early. It also allows a child the mobility that they crave without forcing them to learn to walk (or find some other means of getting around on their own).

On the other hand, I don't necessarily believe that limited amounts of time in a walker are as dangerous as the article you cited states. Use common parenting sense and supervise the child in the walker. Make sure the area is safe, especially around stairs. Meg Coates gave several helpful safety pointer. As long as the time is limited and the area is safe and supervised, I don't think the walker is particularly harmful, but I certainly don't think it is helpful.

To encourage walking, my aunt (who has done in-home baby and toddler daycare for 20+ years) told me to prop my son against a couch or wall and hold my hands out a little in front of him to get him to try to step. We also held him on his feet often ever since he was a baby, letting him support his own weight as much as he could. He ended up walking very early.

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