Babywalkers delay infant development

Babywalkers are associated with significant delay in achieving normal locomotor milestones in infants, such as crawling, standing, and walking, and should be discouraged, concludes a study in this week’s BMJ.

Researchers in Ireland surveyed parents of 190 normal healthy infants (83 boys and 107 girls), born at term and attending registered day care centres. They asked parents to record the age at which their child reached various developmental milestones including rolling over, sitting alone, crawling, and walking alone.

Of the 102 infants using babywalkers, achieving crawling, standing alone, and walking alone occurred later than in the other infants. However, babywalker use was not associated with achieving sitting with support, sitting alone, standing with support, and walking with support.

They found strong associations between the amount of babywalker use and the extent of developmental delay. For example, each aggregated 24 hours of babywalker use was associated with a delay of 3.3 days in walking alone and a delay of 3.7 days in standing alone.

This study provides additional evidence that babywalkers are associated with significant delay in achieving normal locomotor milestones, say the authors. The use of babywalkers should be discouraged, they conclude.

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