Infant walkers, or baby walkers, generally consist of a wheeled base supporting a rigid frame that holds a fabric seat with leg openings and usually a plastic feeding/play tray. The two basic types of walkers include the X frame, in which the steel support bars form an X, and the circular frame, in which the support bars rise vertically from the circular base to the tray. The device is designed to support a preambulatory infant, with feet on the floor, and allow mobility while the infant is learning to walk. Some walkers are equipped with bouncing mechanisms, activity toys, or locking devices that keep them from moving, and some fold flat for storage.
Estimated annual sales of walkers are over 3 million.1(pp72-86) Studies have found that between 55% and 92% of infants between 5 and 15 months of age use walkers.2-6 Parents give various reasons for using walkers-to keep the infant quiet and happy, to encourage mobility and promote walking, to provide exercise, and to hold the infant during feeding.4,5,7 One third of parents in one study used walkers because they believed that walkers would keep their infant safe.5
According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) of the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), 25 000 children, almost all between the ages of 5 and 15 months, were treated in hospital emergency departments in 1993 for injuries associated with the use of infant walkers, at an estimated cost of $90 000 000 annually.1(pp72-86),8 Eleven deaths occurred during the years 1989 through 1993.8
- Copyright © 1995 by the American Academy of Pediatrics