SA Health and Kidsafe SA recently launched a new campaign warning parents against the dangers of using baby exercise jumpers and baby walkers, saying children are at risk of serious injuries and delays in important development milestones.
Slow to walk
According to SA Health deputy chief medical officer, Dr Nicola Spurrier, it’s not uncommon to see babies and children with developmental delays associated with the use of baby walkers and baby exercise jumpers (also known as the Jolly Jumper). Ironically, many parents mistakenly use these products thinking they will actually aid development.
“Excessive time in walkers and jumpers teaches babies to stand up on their tiptoes, causing their calf muscles to tighten and affecting their ability to walk, and in some cases requiring treatment with casting or surgery,” said Dr Spurrier.
And it’s a case of what they’re not getting too which also matters.
“Babies miss out on valuable floor time when spending too much time in walkers and jumpers, bypassing important development stages such as rolling and crawling,” she added.
High injury risk
In addition to developmental delays, experts say children are likely to hurt themselves.
“Baby walkers and exercise jumpers are dangerous and not recommended,” the new brochure from Kidsafe states.
Dr Spurrier says, “There is also an increased risk of injury and babies have been known to tip over and even topple down stairs while in walkers.
“In jumpers, injuries can occur if fingers become trapped by the chain or springs, by bouncing into walls or objects, or if babies are pushed by another child.”
Read more about children’s development:
- Why babies need more tummy time to strengthen necks
- The amazing development of baby vision in pictures
- Development regression in young kids – what it is and when to be concerned
Hazardous and detrimental
Kidsafe Chief Executive Officer, Holly Fitzgerald, agreed, saying that baby walkers can be dangerous because they allow babies to move quickly around the house and gain access to things that are usually out of reach.
“There is a risk of babies burning themselves if they reach hot drinks, ovens or heaters, and a risk of poisoning if they access and swallow cleaning products or medications,” she said.
Interestingly, the Jolly Jumper brand and product was created in 1910 in Canada, however, has been banned there since 2004. And for over 20 years now, Fair Trading NSW has recommended that baby walkers not be used in Australia. Kidsafe hopes the new campaign helps to get the message to Aussie parents and brands that the products are both dangerous and detrimental to development.
Baby walkers and exercise jumpers are dangerous and not recommended. The use of baby walkers and exercise jumpers can…
What IS recommended
According to Holly, some good old-fashioned floor play and tummy time is the ideal option for babies and young kids.
“The best thing parents can do to help their baby’s development is to let them spend plenty of time on the floor in a safe space where they can learn to roll, sit up and crawl,” she said.
If you are looking for alternatives other than the floor, Holly recommends standing activity tables, push trolleys, baby swings, bouncers and rockers for younger bubs – all of which are deemed safe concerning injuries and development. Yay!
Do you use a jumper or walker with your baby? If you’re at all worried about your child’s development please speak to your GP.