Are baby walkers safe?

I have heard that baby walkers can be dangerous, and that if a baby uses a walker too early, it might prevent his legs from straightening up from the curvature that he gets in utero. Is this true? If so, when is a safe time for babies to use walkers?

Baby walkers are dangerous and should be avoided, but not because of their effects on the curvature of baby’s legs. In 1993, 27,000 walker-related injuries in children 15 months of age and under were treated in hospital emergency departments. The injuries include falls (79% of the injuries) and burns, some of which have been serious. Eleven children are known to have died from walker-related injuries since 1989.

Infants do not need walkers either to learn to walk or to help straighten their legs. Walkers, even with parents present, can tumble down stairs or out a door or can tip over when striking an uneven place on a floor. Infants in walkers also can pull cups or pots filled with hot liquids onto themselves from a table or stove or can be burned by contact with hot ovens, radiators, or heaters.

A safe alternative for infant play is one of the newer non-mobile versions of walkers that has a saucer for a base, instead of wheels. These products allow children to bounce and spin without moving forward or backward. Infants and wheels can be a dangerous combination: I recommend that you delete the mobile (wheel-based) infant walker from your shopping list!

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