EXPERTS have warned parents not to buy walkers and exercise jumpers for their babies because it could leave them needing surgery.
There are concerns the devices can stiffen babies’ legs and prevent them from reaching key development milestones such as rolling, crawling and walking.
Getty – Contributor Baby walkers like this one and exercise jumpers have been branded dangerous by health professionals
South Australia (SA) Health and Kidsafe have launched a campaign in Australia to warn parents about the dangers of baby walkers and jumpers.
Kidsafe states on its website: “While in a walker, babies do not learn how to use their muscles properly.
“This teaches them to walk on tip toes, causing their leg muscles to become tight.
“This may require treatment, like casting or even surgery.”
Getty – Contributor Exercise jumpers can also cause a baby’s leg muscles to stiffen, according to health experts
Health professionals in the UK have also warned about the devices in the past.
The NHS advises babies only spend 20 minutes at a time in walkers, bouncers and jumpers.
The NHS website says of the devices: “These encourage babies to stand on their tiptoes and can delay walking if your baby uses them a lot.”
NHS Shetland issued a leaflet in 2012 which highlighted the joint and muscle problems that jumpers and walkers can cause.
It said: “Each year in Shetland, the physiotherapy service receives numerous referrals for muscle, bone and joint problems that can be directly linked to the use of a baby walker.”
Canada banned the sale of baby walkers in 2007 because of the risks to a baby’s development.
There is currently no ban on their sale in the UK.
Should I buy a baby walker or exercise jumper?BABYCENTRE UK advises parents not to buy a walker for babies. This is what they have to say:
“Baby walkers are dangerous because they give babies extra speed, extra height, and access to many hazards. They are also unstable on uneven surfaces.
“Walkers won’t help your baby learn to walk.
“Using one too much may even delay their development slightly.
“Your baby needs to learn to roll, crawl, sit and to play on the floor, in order to reach their developmental milestones.
“Retailers must give you clear safety guidelines when selling a baby walker.
“Baby walkers must comply with the standard BSEN 1273:2005.
“If someone suggests a walker for your baby, look at other toys suitable for your baby’s age first.
“Good alternatives for active and curious babies are baby play stations or static exercisers.
“Or, you could just let your baby exercise on the floor.”
Experts say walkers are also dangerous because they could fall down stairs, touch dangerous items they previously couldn’t reach and collide into things.
Baby walkers have a hard plastic base on wheels with a sling seat.
Babies can sit in the seat and move around before they are able to sit up by themselves or crawl.
Meanwhile, exercise jumpers are a sling seat with a spring that can be attached to a door frame.
It allows babies to bounce up and down off the floor using their feet.
Exercise jumpers can also cause muscle problems, according to the health groups.
Getty – Contributor Baby walkers can also cause accidents because little ones can reach items they couldn’t grab before
Kidsafe’s website states: “Like baby walkers, the use of exercise jumpers can cause baby’s leg muscles to become tight.
“This may require them to have treatment, like casting or even surgery.
“While in an exercise jumper, babies do not learn how to use their muscles properly.
“It may encourage them to stiffen their legs and may delay them reaching milestones.”
They’re also a danger because babies could collide with a door frame or furniture.
The charities say that push-type trolleys, where the baby has to push an item on wheels along in order to stand upright, are safe for little ones.
They also recommend a baby swing or a rocker chair as an alternative to an exercise jumper.
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