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Walkers: A Health Hazard?

Yes, infants like to be in a walker, but is it worth it? Over 40 per cent of children who use walkers have an accident requiring medical attention. They get skull fractures, concussions, dental injuries, and lacerations. There have even been some deaths.

• Most of the serious walker injuries occur from falling down a stairway. When a crawling child falls down from unprotected steps, he tumbles, and he breaks his fall. But when a child goes down a stairway in a walker, he accelerates and crash-lands at the bottom.

• Why then do parents use walkers? Mainly because children like to be upright, especially after they’ve learned to sit with support, but can’t sit alone. Once they learn to crawl, however, they usually prefer to be out of the walker. Some parents believe walkers help children learn to walk. On the contrary, walkers can delay both crawling and walking, if used over two hours a day.

• I can’t emphasize this enough; walkers and stairways don’t mix. I would prefer that you simply don’t buy a walker, but if you have one, be sure to keep the door to any stairway locked. And don’t trust a gate, children’s walkers have crashed right through them.

During Dr. Schmitt’s 20 years as a medical practitioner and researcher, he has published over 100 articles or chapters on pediatric health care, and has been awarded the distinguished C. Anderson Aldrich Award by the American Academy of Pediatrics for outstanding contributions to the field of child development. Schmitt has also authored five books including Your Child’s Health, which won Child Magazine’s first Hall of Fame Award in 1991. Schmitt is also a professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and on staff at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado.


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