To evaluate the effect of baby walker (BW) use on child development.
The study was conducted in İstanbul University İstanbul Medical Faculty Social Pediatric Outpatient Clinic. Children aged 18-30 months who used BW for 30 minutes or more a day for at least 1 month constituted the user group (n = 100) and those who never used a BW were in the control group (n = 100). Information was obtained through the personal health record of the unit and by a face-to-face questionnaire applied to the families during their visits to the unit. The Ankara Development Screening Inventory (ADSI) was used to assess language-cognitive, motor and mental development. Sitting without support and independent walking age and four measures (history and physical, neurological and orthopedic examinations) of gait disorders were evaluated in relation to child development.
There was no developmental problem in any of the children, but there was a statistically significant difference in terms of an atypical gait pattern between the two groups Atypical gait pattern and especially toe-walking were more frequent in children who used BW. The accident rate in BW users was also significantly higher than those who did not use BW. The most common reasons for BW use were keeping the child occupied and improving his/her development.
The use of BW should be considered while evaluating toe-walking in children. To convince families in avoiding use of BW, they need to be informed that it has no positive influence on motor development but carries a risk for accidents and toe walking. This information should be part of the parent education offered in Well Child Clinics.