Parents are being urged not to use baby walkers and exercise jumpers for their babies due to the risk of injury and developmental delays.
SA Health’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nicola Spurrier, said it is not uncommon to see babies and children with developmental delays associated with the use of baby walkers and baby exercise jumpers.
“Excessive time in walkers and jumpers teaches babies to stand up on their tip toes. This causes their calf muscles to tighten and affecting their ability to walk. In some cases requiring treatment with casting or surgery.” Dr Spurrier said.
Babies miss out on valuable floor time when spending too much time in walkers and jumpers, bypassing important development stages such as rolling and crawling. There is also an increased risk of injury and babies have been known to tip over and even topple down stairs while in walkers. In jumpers, injuries can occur if fingers become trapped by the chain or springs, by bouncing into walls or objects, or if babies are pushed by another child.
Holly Fitzgerald, said while baby walkers and exercise jumpers are popular products in Australia, Kidsafe and health experts recommend they are not used. “Baby walkers can be dangerous because they allow babies to move quickly around the house and gain access to things that are normally out of reach.”
“There is a risk of babies burning themselves if they reach hot drinks, ovens or heaters, and a risk of poisoning if they access and swallow cleaning products or medications. Baby walkers don’t help babies learn to walk because they don’t allow babies to balance or use their muscles properly. The best thing parents can do to help their baby’s development is to let them spend plenty of time on the floor in a safe space where they can learn to roll, sit up and crawl. The new resources we’ve developed offer parents alternatives such as standing activity tables, push trolleys, and baby swings or rockers for younger babies.”
A comprehensive review of research and evidence was completed by the Women’s and Children’s Hospital paediatric physiotherapy team supporting this campaign, which the Australian Physiotherapy Association has endorsed. For more information visit the Kidsafe website.