Health authorities are warning parents against using baby walkers and exercise jumpers over fears they could cause injury and developmental delays.
SA Health and Kidsafe say parents should not buy the walkers and jumpers and believe floor time is better for babies.
SA Health Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nicola Spurrier, said in a statement developmental delays in babies were associated with the jumpers and walkers.
“Excessive time in walkers and jumpers teaches babies to stand up on their tip toes, causing their calf muscles to tighten and affecting their ability to walk, and in some cases, requiring treatment with casting or surgery,” she said.
“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.”
Babies at risk of tipping over and falling
Dr Spurrier said there had been increased risks to babies and some had tipped over and even fallen down the 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,” she said.
“SA Health and Kidsafe are today launching a campaign to make parents aware of the dangers and to discourage the use of walkers and exercise jumpers altogether.”
Kidsafe chief executive officer Holly Fitzgerald said the walkers and jumpers were popular products but could also allow babies to access things out of reach.
“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,” she said in a statement.
“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.
“Baby walkers don’t help babies learn to walk because they don’t allow babies to balance or use their muscles properly.”
Ms Fitzgerald is urging parents to give their baby floor time so they can develop and learn to roll, crawl and sit up in a safe area.
She said parents could use push trolleys, standing activity tables and baby swings or rockers for young babies as an alternative.