Keep babies out of bouncers, health officers warn
BABY walkers and exercise jumpers should be avoided because of the risk of injury and developmental delay for babies, experts warn.
SA Health and Kidsafe will on Tuesday launch a campaign to make parents aware of the dangers and to discourage the use of walkers and exercise jumpers altogether.
Australian Physiotherapy Association president Phil Calvert said injuries and developmental delays associated with the devices were "consistent issues" dealt with by clinicians.
Excessive time in walkers and jumpers teach babies to stand up on their tip toes, causing their calf muscles to tighten and affecting their ability to walk and, in some cases, ending in treatment with casting or surgery.
Mr Calvert said plaster casting lasts for up to eight weeks and, if not successful, could mean babies need surgery.
SA Health's deputy chief medical officer Dr Nicola Spurrier said there was 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,'' Dr Spurrier said.
"If you have one of these devices put it in the shed and put the child on the floor instead."
Kidsafe chief executive Holly Fitzgerald said the devices were popular products, often used for generations in the mistaken belief they helped babies reach milestones more quickly.
"Baby walkers can be dangerous because they allow babies to move quickly around the house and gain access to things that are normally out of reach," Ms Fitzgerald said.
"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."
For more information visit: kidsafesa.com.au
Better, safer options recommended by Kidsafe
- Floor time
It is important baby practices tummy time on a mat, sitting, crawling.
- Baby swing or rocker chair
Set up on the floor, never up high. Use during awake time, not for sleep. Make sure the harness is done up correctly.
- Activity Table
Practice pulling to stand at an activity table or low, secured furniture.
- Push-type trolley
Practice learning to walk behind a stable push-type trolley.