Fewer children are being injured by baby walkers, but these injuries are still numerous enough to alarm pediatricians. Each year, U.S. emergency rooms treat about 2,000 infants injured while in a baby walker.
Walkers cause head and neck injuries
A study conducted from 1990 to 2014 showed more than 230,000 children went to the emergency room for walker-related injuries. Over 90 percent of the injuries were to the head or neck. These injuries included concussions, skull fractures, and other serious injuries. An injury most often happened when an infant fell down the steps.
The toys expose infants to more danger
For pediatricians, that is one of the primary problems. The walkers allow infants to quickly access potentially dangerous areas of the home. Since children are so young, they do not fully understand the risks.
Safety measures have reduced infant injuries
In 1997, a voluntary safety measure made walkers wider and included a stopping mechanism for wheels. This contributed to a decrease in infant injuries. In 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission also issued new mandatory requirements for the walkers. The measures included tougher safety tests for manufacturers, as well as the installation of brakes meant to prevent stair falls. The new standards resulted in a 23 percent decline in injuries. This was in addition to the already reduced number of injuries.
Pediatricians say it is not enough
Despite the progress, the American Academy of Pediatrics thinks 2,000 infant injuries a year is too many. Pediatricians have long called for a ban on the toys, and this study has renewed their protests.
A long-held belief that walkers speed up children’s development does not provide much of a defense for the toy’s use. According to Business Insider, studies have shown walkers may slow mental and physical development.