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Now that your baby is showing rapid signs of growth, you must be keen to see him take his first steps. Walking is an important event in the baby’s life and the parents, too, as it signifies independence. To help your baby along this path of discovery and freedom, you may want to encourage him by bringing home a walker.
When to Let Your Baby Start Using a Baby Walker
While there is no fixed appropriate age for a baby to use a walker, the baby’s strength, development and size will have to be considered before making a decision. Walkers are usually designed for babies between the ages of 4 to 16 months. Apart from this, the baby needs to be able to hold his head up quite steadily and have his feet touch the floor when placed in the walker, to be able to use it.
Advantages of Baby Walkers
Here are a few pros of buying a walker for your baby:
Engaging and Inspiring
Most baby walkers are fitted with simple toys or attractions to keep the baby engaged and busy. They are designed to stimulate mental growth and provide visual stimulation, too. A walker allows you to carry on with your daily tasks since the baby remains engaged with the attached toys.
Encourage Babies to Walk
With support at hand, your baby may be encouraged to take his first steps. It helps the baby understand how the standing pose will aid walking, and he will make attempts to get going on his own.
Children between the ages of 8 to 12 months are keen to explore their surroundings. A walker can provide them with the mobility they need and help them to manoeuvre themselves without any assistance.
Disadvantages of Using Baby Walkers
Here are a few disadvantages related to the use of baby walkers:
- Babies using walkers may actually reach the walking or crawling milestones later than others who don’t.
- Your baby should follow the roll-sit up-crawl-walk routine for which it is important for him to stay on the floor. This workout helps in strengthening all the muscles needed to stand or walk. A walker may prevent your baby from doing so and impair normal development.
- Objects which are out of reach for a crawling baby may come within reach of a baby in a walker, and this could be the cause of injury.
- Your baby’s toes and fingers could be injured as the walker’s design may have folding parts or hinges.
- A walker with wheels reduces your reaction time if it picks up speed and can lead to an accident.
Does Baby Walker Help Balance?
The natural process of rolling over, crawling, standing, and then walking teaches a baby how to balance himself. When you allow the baby to use a walker, the baby’s position causes him to lean forward from the hip. The child does not have to balance himself in a walker. Whether a baby tips to the side or forward, the walker will prevent him from falling. The baby will need to learn to balance himself, afresh.
Precautions to Take While Making Your Child Use a Walker
It is highly recommended that you address some baby walker safety issues before your child makes active use of one:
• Ensure that the baby walker is used on a flat and even surface only.
• Keep the baby and walker away from staircases and water bodies of any kind
• It is mandatory for you or a responsible adult to be around while the baby is using the walker.
• Remove sharp and pointed objects or surfaces from the vicinity. Heavy or breakable objects should be moved into another area.
As we have seen, baby walkers have their own pros and cons and may often raise the question “are baby walkers safe?” As an alert parent, you will have to take care, so that the advantages can be driven home while the disadvantages can be avoided. It is, after all, a parent’s responsibility to make sure that the baby’s development is unhindered due to the use of such objects.