When my son was a baby, walkers were thought to be a great way to help infants learn to walk. Since then, we have learned that walkers are actually detrimental to normal development. Because a baby in a walker can get around easily, their urge to move across the floor is satisfied, so many aren’t motivated to learn how to crawl or walk on their own. Walkers also strengthen the wrong muscles: the lower legs are used almost exclusively, while the upper legs and hips – used most when walking – remain relatively weak.
In addition, children in walkers have more accidents. Approximately 25,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms in the United States each year for skull fractures, concussions and other injuries related to baby walkers. Most baby walker accidents (about 96 percent) involve children falling down stairs. In 69 percent of the cases, an adult was with the child at the time of the accident.
In response to these accidents, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and baby walker manufacturers have developed new safety standards. In order to meet the new standards and be certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, a walker must be too wide to fit through a standard doorway and have a gripping mechanism to stop the walker if one wheel goes over a step. Instead of a traditional baby walker, try a modified version that has no wheels. These allow the baby to swivel, but are stationary.
Your New Baby
Your baby loves to imitate you at this stage and might mirror your movements as you brush your hair or teeth. Toys that represent adult objects, such as a play telephone or tool set, will be among his or her favorites right now. Mimicking is an important way for your baby to learn.
Your baby is getting close to taking his or her first steps and may lift one foot off the ground to take a practice step while standing with assistance. If he or she has mastered crawling and standing against furniture, he or she is probably very close to cruising, or walking while holding onto furniture. If you have several pieces of furniture close together he or she will love to walk around them all, as long as he or she doesn’t have to completely let go at any point.
Your baby’s stomach and back muscles are increasing in strength, and his or her balance is improving. He or she can go from lying on his or her stomach to a sitting position all by themselves, and he or she can also recover his or her balance well while sitting. When crawling, he or she can now balance on one hand while reaching for an object with the other.
A Quote Worth Repeating
“We inevitably doom our children to failure and frustration when we try to set their goals for them.”
~ Dr. Jess Lair
A Tip from the Trenches
What do you do to create a soothing environment in your baby’s nursery to help him or her calm themselves to sleep? One subscriber put a small aquarium in her baby’s room. The hum of the pump and the gurgle of the bubbles from the filter made just enough white noise to soothe baby to sleep. The light from the small fluorescent bulb provided just enough light, and there was always a good level of humidity. The goldfish also provided a source of entertainment for her when she was awake in her crib. If you decide to add an aquarium to your baby’s room, be sure the tank is out of your baby’s reach and is secure so he or she can’t fall in or pull it down on top of themselves.