Infant walker dangers far outpace their benefits

FROM TOTS TO TEENS

August 24, 1993|By Dr. Modena Wilson and Dr. Alain Joffe | Dr. Modena Wilson and Dr. Alain Joffe,Contributing Writers

Q: I just read that infant walkers are dangerous. My 5-month-old just loves his. Do I have to get rid of it? Can I let him use it if I watch him every minute?

A: Many babies have been seriously injured while riding in walkers. Some have died. Most serious injuries occur when the baby rides the walker down the stairs. We think this is too big a chance to take with something as precious as your baby.

A walker provides no developmental advantage for your baby, though we can well imagine what you mean when you say he loves it. Of course he gets joy out of exploring his world. But do you really want to set him loose with the judgment of a 5-month-old? He'll be just as happy if you bring objects and your attention to him. Keep his surroundings interesting but free of danger.

And use a gate across stairs as soon as he gets around on his own.

Dr. Wilson is director of general pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center; Dr. Joffe is director of adolescent medicine.

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