A baby walker is designed to keep a child balanced as they hobble around, set into a cloth seat that is suspended onto a structure that has wheels. Making a child mobile before they are ready to walk. There are developmental and safety considerations before using one, with an all-out ban in some countries due to the risks.
To use or not to use
A contraption designed to help babies walk around without falling, it has been in use since the 15th century in Europe. In older times people believed baby walkers would help a child learn how to walk. Modern research disagrees, with claims that it possibly slows a child's walking ability down depending on how often one is used. The fact that a baby is not using her or his own muscles to walk makes the development time slower. Research says that for every 24 hours spent in a baby walker it can delay their ability to walk by three days and the ability to stand by four days. In a walker babies use their toes instead of the full foot, this tightens their leg muscles and interferes with walking development. Once out of the walker they continue to use their toes, which is not a natural stance. Balance is also delayed because when babies sit they pull themselves up and learn what their weight feels like. In a walker, the baby doesn't need to balance so they do not pick up on this crucial skill. If a baby spends more time in a walker this means they spend lesser time on the ground meaning they are not using their hands and knees, this is also important to develop weight bearing through the pelvis and shoulders. There are movements important to physical development before a baby can walk, being in a walker means these are missed out on due to lack of practice on the floor.
Considerations when using one
A baby walker should not be used for more than 15 minutes at a stretch. Under the supervision of a carer, only on a flat surface; preferably in a baby-proof room. Meaning the child cannot access dangerous objects such as electrical cords, hot drinks, cleaning chemicals, fires, heaters, pools or toilets. Make sure the baby walker you buy has a wheel lock so it can be made immobile in case you don't want the child moving about. Do not use a walker before your baby can sit and also do not use it after the baby can walk.
In the US and Canada, there are many recorded cases of preventable child injuries that are attributed to baby walkers. The walker enables a baby to have access to spaces they otherwise may not have been able to reach. Including stairs, in which case the injuries were worse in comparison to falling without a walker. Canada is the first country to put an all-out ban on baby walkers, to the degree that they cannot even be sold at a garage sale. The offence of said ban carries a hefty fine. Within the US there is also a debate whether it is better to ban them completely.
Baby walkers are available in many different designs and build qualities; the price ranges also vary depending on this and the brand.