Jesus in a baby walker, The Hours of Catherine of Cleves, c. 1440
Nearly every household with a baby uses newborn and infant consumer products — infant furniture, gates and barrier devices, cribs, play yards, walkers, infant carriers and car seats, strollers — that are designed to make life easier for parents and safer for babies. And these objects are not all conveniences of modern living; evidently, Jesus had an infant walker — on wheels! (see image above).
Sometimes these products are hazardous to young children. From 2009-2012, such nursery products led the list of recalled children’s products in the United States. In 2014, there were more than 69,000 emergency room visits by children under 5 years of age for injuries related to nursery products.
In 1999, researchers estimated that 8,800 infants and toddlers were treated in emergency departments for injuries associated with mobile (wheels on the bottom) infant walkers. Most of these injuries were due to falls down steps with most kids evaluated for head trauma. Between 1973 and 1998, thirty-four deaths were reported from infant walker accidents. By 2001, the American Academy of Pediatrics was calling for a ban on the manufacture and sale of mobile infant walkers, also citing evidence that walkers don’t help a child learn to walk.
Using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, researchers from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH examined U.S. emergency department records of the more than 1.3 million children under the age of 3 seen for nursery product injuries between 1991-2011. Ashley May says that averages out to 66,000 ER visits per year, or “about one every eight minutes”:
In eighty percent of the injury cases, the baby fell out of the product. For the purposes of the study, the term nursery products encompassed a host of baby products, including baby walkers, bouncers and changing tables. Most common injuries occurred with baby carriers (20%), cribs/mattresses (19%) and strollers (17%). Eighty-one percent of the injuries affected the head, face or neck.
May says parents can ensure nursery products are used safely by relying on the “4 Rs”:
Research, check for recalls, register the product and read the manuals (from front to back). To check for recalls, visit www.recalls.gov. (Parents can also sign up for recall email alerts on the site.) Up to 80% of recalled children’s products aren’t returned…