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32 years
When we look online we read that baby walkers/jumpers are banned in USA and Canada for several reasons...Why do we still use it in Lebanon?Does it really help baby to walk or can they walk without it?
Feb 9, 2015

Dr. Zakia Dimassi Pediatrics
First off you need to know that not all products that are banned in the US/Canada/EU are similarly banned in Lebanon, for many reasons, one being the deficiencies in supervision of such products.

Opinions regarding the use of baby
equipment will vary among pediatricians and developmentalists. Some therapists
are categorically against of this type of equipment while others advocate the supervised
“in moderation” use of stationary exersaucers, while stressing that these items
should never be used as a “babysitter”. One thing you should know is that the
American Academy of Pediatrics has called for a ban on walkers with wheels,
stating that over 8,000 babies per year are subject to injury by using walkers
on wheels. Injuries include burns (the walker makes them higher off the ground
&able to reach the stove &table top), falling down stairs (child pushes
into door while in walker), drowning (falling into bathtub or pool while in
walker), and even poisoning (reaching things they ordinarily could not if they
were not seated in a mobile walker).

New guidelines for the manufacture
of walkers on wheels were set in 1997. The requirements included making wider walkers
so they did not fit through doorways, as well as including lock in place
brakes. These adjustments did not succeed in dramatically decreasing injuries
since most babies in walkers on wheels are obviously “on the move”. The APP
suggests never buying a walker on wheels for any child & if you own one
they suggest you throw it out (May 13, 2011).

The doctors who advise against
walkers state that “Because the babies can get around too easily, their urge
to move across the floor is satisfied, and many of them will not undertake the
important task of crawling, creeping, scooting, or hitching. This stage is
important for developing strength and coordination. Many parents think that
walkers will help children learn to walk. As it turns out, walkers interfere
with learning to walk. In addition to decreasing the desire to walk by
providing an easier alternative, walkers strengthen the wrong muscles. The
lower legs are strengthened, but the upper legs and hips become relatively
weak. The upper legs and hips are most important for walking.”

Others says that “A few minutes
spent and a few steps safely taken in a walker each day won’t harm baby, but too
much time in his first little car is neither safe nor healthy. We discourage
the use of walkers or any device that encourages baby to rely on outside
assistance for locomotion rather than on his own creativity or initiative. Walkers
reverse the normal process of neurological development, giving the lower half
of the body an ability that the upper half is not yet ready to cope with.
Studies have shown that infants who spend a large portion of their day in
walkers may exhibit delayed motor skills, especially in learning to walk

the above mentioned sources advise that a stationary play gym like an
exersaucer can be a safer alternative to walkers on wheels and does not
typically harm a child’s development. The downside of it is that it does allow
a child to sit upright and rock, bounce and spin. While it is ok to use the
exersaucer in moderation (for example 20 minutes per day (30 max), preferably
10-15 min per occasion), we must keep in mind that it has aspects that may
interfere with typical development. First, they tend to hold a baby’s hips in
an extended position, and secondly, they prevent the baby from seeing his feet
which is necessary visual feedback a child needs when learning to move by
himself. Also, we notice babies pushing up often on their toes to spin and
bounce and some babies later become “toe walkers”, not to mention that
the use of the exersaucer is on the
expense of important playtime on the floor – exploration of the environment
enhances cognitive development as well as motor development.
In conclusion: whilst an
exersaucer seems to be an acceptable option to entertain a child while the
parent is preoccupied, no child be kept in it for more than a short period of
time each day.

The same concept applies to the use
of jumpers: it has to be in moderation. One thing you have to be aware of is
that babies have sustained severe injury in the jumpers that are suspended from
doorways. Stronger babies have bounced so forcefully that they ended up hitting
the sides of the doorways with their heads. There have also been recalls on the
doorway jumper due to clamp failure which caused the entire apparatus to fall
from the ceiling. Because babies tend to jump forcefully in jumpers, they do
not may not acquire the slow controlled movements needed for walking, as such some
kids develop a tip toe pattern of movement. Add to the fact that the jumper
does nothing to help strengthen trunk, core & leg muscles needed for
balance and walking. If you must have a jumper, then go for the stationary kind
and always use it supervised and in moderation (again 20-30 max per day &
not all at once).