I'm pregnant with my first child. My mom wants to buy me a baby walker, like I had when I was little. But I'm worried about the safety of these devices. Are walkers a hazard or am I just being a paranoid first-time mom? – Jessica
Sounds like your mother's intuition has already kicked in. Walkers — devices with wheeled frames and suspended seats that let babies move around using their feet — are indeed a safety hazard. Walkers are a leading cause of injuries in babies, so health and safety experts strongly discourage their use.
While in walkers, babies can roll into hot stoves, heaters, and pools. Because walkers let babies reach higher than normal, they're more likely to grab dangerous objects (like hot coffee cups and kitchen knives) or touch stovetops, which can lead to burns and other injuries. They also can fall over objects or down a flight of stairs. In fact, falling down stairs is one of the most common injuries from walkers. Babies who fall can suffer broken bones and serious head injuries.
Research shows that walkers do not provide any advantage to a child's development. They do not teach infants to walk or help them walk sooner than they would without one. Babies need opportunities for pulling up, creeping, and crawling, which they can't do in a walker.
To provide a safe play area for your baby, choose an activity center or bouncy seat, stationary rocker, swing, or play yard instead. And be sure that everyone who cares for your child knows about the dangers of walkers.