Introduction: A study was conducted to define the pattern of baby walker usage and the rate of walker-related injuries in infants, as well as to determine the effects of baby walkers on the start of independent walking among infants.
Methods: Families of infants aged six months to two years who presented at health facility clinics in 2007 and 2008 were enrolled in the study. The study team interviewed the primary caregiver and documented the relevant data on a pre-designed questionnaire. The data of users of baby walkers was compared with that of non-users.
Results: Walkers were used by 54.5 percent of 414 infants. Their use was significantly higher in one-child families (p-value is 0.009) and in those with higher parental education levels (p-value is less than 0.001). 78.6 percent of users and 85 percent of non-users were walking by 12 months of age (p-value is 0.283); no significant difference was observed between the two groups in terms of the age at which the infants starting walking (p-value is 0.401). 76.8 percent of parents of users versus 8.2 percent of parents of non-users believed that walkers promote early walking (p-value is less than 0.001). 44.7 percent of parents of users knew that walkers can be hazardous, as compared to 22.3 percent of parents of non-users. No serious injury was reported, but 14.1 percent of infants sustained trivial walker-associated injuries.
Conclusion: Baby walkers do not hasten independent walking and may be associated with injuries. However, it was noted that knowledge of the associated hazards has not deterred parents from using baby walkers for their infants.