This article discusses the effect of baby walkers on the growth and development of infants.
A study conducted by Siegel and Burton on 109 infants aged between six and fifteen months showed that those who used walkers sat, crawled, and walked later than nonusers. They also scored lower on the Bayley scales of mental and motor skills compared with the non-walker user group.
Another study was conducted by Crouchman on 66 infants who were divided into three groups according to the length of time spent using baby walkers. No significant difference was noted between the three groups in terms of the onset of sitting or walking. There was however a significant delay in the onset of prone locomotion in the “higher-user” group compared with the low-user and non-user groups. It was suggested in this study that excessive use of baby walkers might delay normal locomotor development.
A study conducted by Garrett, et al., which involved 190 infants of which 107 were baby walker users, revealed that crawling, standing and walking unassisted occurred later in the baby walker group. Specifically for every 24 hours usage of baby walkers, unassisted walking is delayed by 3.3 days and unassisted standing is delayed by 3.7 days.
In a study which included a set of six twins, it was revealed that adverse electrophysiological changes were apparent in baby walker users compared to nonusers.
In a case presented presented by Engelbert, et al., two infants who utilised walkers instead of walking were noted to have developed a disharmonic and delayed motor development. They also developed calf muscle contractures and motor development mimicking spastic diplegia.
The results of the studies show that there appears to be more evidence to suggest that baby walkers interfere with the natural process of locomotor skills and may be a cause of developmental delay.
Siegel AC & Burton RV
‘Effects of baby walkers on motor and mental development in human infants.’
J Dev Behav Pediatr Oct 1999; 20(5):355-61
‘The effects of baby walkers on early locomotor development.’
Dev Med Child Neurol Dec 1986; 28(6):757-61
Garrett M, et al.
‘Locomotor milestones and baby walkers: cross-sectional study.’
BMJ June 2002; 324:1494
Engelbert RH, et al.
‘Influence of infant walkers on motor development: mimicking spastic diplegia? ‘
Europ J Paediatr Neurol 1999;3(6):273-5
These studies illustrate that baby walkers may interfere with the natural process of locomotor skills and may contribute to developmental delay in infants.
“Effects of baby walkers on motor and mental development in human infants.”
This study published in Developmental Behavioural Paediatrics in 1999, analysed motor and mental development in 109 infants.
The study looked at 109 infants from the New York area. Approximately half of the subjects had used a walker, and half had never used a walker. The infants were tested using a standard measure of physical and mental development at ages 6, 9, or 12 months. They were then retested again three months later.
Walker experienced infants sat, crawled, and walked later than the infants where there was no walker experience (the control group).
In addition to this they scored lower on scales of mental and motor development.
When taking into account this data along with the statistics concerning the many injuries associated with walkers, the authors concluded that the problems associated with walker use outweigh any perceived benefits.
Siegel A, Burton R. Developmental Behavioural Paediatrics 1999; 20: 355-361
Further evidence that ‘baby walkers’ can negatively influence a child’s development.
“The effects of ‘baby-walkers’ on early locomotor development.
This study discusses how the excessive use of baby-walkers may alter the pathway of normal locomotor development.
Information on the motor development of 66 children was collected. The children were divided into three groups according to the length of time they spent in a baby-walker.
Children in the high-user group showed a significant delay in onset of prone locomotion compared with the low-user and non-user groups.
There was no difference between the groups in age at onset of sitting or walking.
Crouchman M. Dev Med Child Neurol 1986; 28: 757-761[Medline].
Another study which demonstrates that ‘baby walkers’ may negatively influence a child’s development.