Baby Walkers May Slow Infants’ Growth
PARENTS and babies appear to love parents to the baby-tending and entertainment value of these wheeled seats and babies, infant walkers for being able to scoot around the house in them before they can walk as well as before they could crawl. Many parents think that baby walkers foster the evolution of the motor skills needed for walking and provide mental stimulation by allowing the infant to explore a broader environment.
But in the past several years, walkers have come under increasing attack as security hazards, responsible for as many as 25,000 visits a year concussions, broken limbs and burns. Many experts have been pressing for a ban.
A researcher at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland has found that contrary to common parental beliefs, infant walkers are likely to impair — not foster — an infant’s motor and mental development. The study was conducted in the State University of New York at Buffalo with Dr. Roger V. Burton, a developmental psychologist, and has not yet been printed.
In an interview, Dr. Siegel emphasized that all the babies she studied were within normal ranges on tests but that those who used walkers were relatively delayed in their motor and mental development. The infants were not followed long enough to know if the individuals who used walkers finally caught up.
Infant walkers are chairs hanging from frames which allow a kid to sit upright with the legs and toes touching the floor. They have tray tables in front and wheels on the base. Infants are generally placed in walkers between the ages of 5 and 4 weeks, and use them until they’re about 10 months old.
Dr. Siegel said she had undertaken the analysis after she’d watched a niece browse in a walker and had remembered an experiment done in the 1960s involving wolves fitted with conical collars which prevented them from seeing their limbs. After the collars were eliminated, the kittens were unable to visually guide their legs for a while; with their feet, they couldn’t hit on a dangling ball of string for example. Dr. Siegel wondered whether infant walkers, especially those with trays which obstruct infants’ perspectives of their feet, would have a similar untoward effect.
Walkers were not used by the infants in the study.
Another half spent two and a half hours a day at a walker. Others spent as long as six and a half hours although some of these spent as little as 30 minutes. Most of the babies studied had and came from relatively affluent houses.
Dr. Siegel divided the infants into three groups depending on their age at the beginning of the analysis — 6 weeks, 9 months and 12 months — and analyzed their motor and mental abilities at the onset of the study and again 3 months later. She determined for how long the infants used walkers and when and analyzed their memory, speech, perception and motor skills with the Bayley Scales of Mental and Motor Development, a well-accepted measuring apparatus. She also asked the parents if the infants mastered abilities like walking and crawling, to document.
On average, infants who didn’t use walkers sat at 5 months, crawled at 8 months and began to walk inside their 10th month, while babies who used walkers that blocked their perspectives of their feet first sat close to the end of their 6th month, crawled at 9 weeks and walked at almost 12 months. Babies whose walkers permitted them to see their toes crawled at an era midway between the two groups. Even though these abnormalities soon corrected themselves when they started walking infants in walkers showed some abnormalities.
Emotional skills were developed one of the babies who used walkers. While infants who did not use walkers had a mean rating of 123 mental scores averaged 113 for those using walkers that blocked views of the toes. Babies using averaged 116, involving the two groups. The average score on this test nationwide is 100. Their comparatively higher socioeconomic backgrounds were reflected by the scores of these infants in the study.
Babies learn by exploring objects in their surroundings.
Things are dropped by them, then go after them by crawling, rolling on the ground or reaching. But while a baby in a walker can motor over to matters, she can’t get to the things she wants to obtain. If something drops, she cannot pick this up. And when babies use a walker after they start to crawl, it deprives them of the ability to freely explore their environment, and this may adversely affect cognitive improvement.”