Baby walkers, or sometimes also called a walking ring date back as far as 1870. Parents have been using this aid to amuse and keep babies occupied for many years.
Nowadays many parents use this plaything to encourage their baby to walk.
Of course, when parents talk about babies, walkers and encouraging them to walk, one question is bound to be raised sooner or later…
“Does a walker really encourage my baby to walk? And will a walker help my child to walk at an earlier age?”
The answer lies in looking at the pros and cons. And how to use it sensibly.
Normal baby development follows very definite development patterns.
These patterns are commonly known as milestones. And each milestone develops very specific skills babies need for normal functioning.
Many toys and aids are nowadays designed to encourage and stimulate infants to develop these skills. Thereby stimulating development.
On the other hand, walkers were initially used as an aid to give infants the ability to move about in an upright position before they’ve developed the skills to do so on their own.
Walkers were not designed to stimulate and encourage normal walking.
What it means is this:
Before any baby can walk, she must master proper balance and bearing weight on her legs and feet.
But when small babies spend most of their early weeks in a walking ring, they almost always learn to walk on their toes.
This walking style is abnormal and often shortens the Achilles tendon which eventually messes up your child’s balance when she really starts to walk independently.
What’s more, the actual standing position in a walker doesn’t improve an infant’s balance. And teaching the knees to take weight is often disturbed and often does not develop naturally.
Practical observations show that many babies who spend most of their days in a walker struggle to or never crawl.
This is especially true if a baby is put in a walker at a very early age. Or spends too much time in a walking ring.
Crawling on the other hand teaches important motor and perceptual skills such as distance, depth… concepts such as in, out, on and under.
Chances are therefore good that a baby who spends too little time crawling won’t properly master or take longer to master these skills.
One more important point:
Injuries to your baby’s head caused by the walker falling over is probably the single biggest reason to use a baby walker sensibly and under supervision.
Bottom line is… spending too much time in a walker rarely encourages your baby to walk sooner.
So, is using a walker forbidden?
No, definitely not.
As long as you use it sensibly and for short periods to keep your child entertained while you’re occupied elsewhere, it can be a good friend.