Saturday, March 26, 2011

Which Walker is Best?

Just because they named it a walker doesn’t mean it will help facilitate independent walking for your child. There are no studies that support the idea that putting your child with Down syndrome in a walker will help him to reach that milestone sooner. In fact there is some evidence that shows that children who use walkers actually learn to walk on their own later than their peers.

Pros & Cons of Walkers
Like any baby contraption that has a seat and some toys attached, a walker can be useful when you need to put your child in a safe, entertaining place while you answer the phone or cook dinner.

If your child is not ready for a walker, there are risks involved with putting him in one. A walker allows your child to bear weight on his joints that he may not be ready for if he does not have the core strength and stability to handle it. These abnormal forces on the joints can cause damage and can also teach your child patterns of posture and movement that are not typical for his development. Most walkers interfere with the child’s ability to see his legs and feet and therefore hinder his ability to receive important motor information about how his body works.

Having your child in a walker for long periods of time can also hamper sensory motor development because it controls what the child can “go for” and puts a barrier between the child and the world around him.

When a Child Can Benefit from a Walker
If your child has the desire to be up and moving around and can walk along the couch or coffee table, or can walk while holding on to a push toy, or can walk while you are holding his hands, yet cannot walk independently due to trouble with balance, susceptibility to fatigue, or some other underlying cause for delay, he might benefit from a therapeutic posterior walker.

walkerA posterior walker provides the support and mobility a child needs to be able to walk around, yet does not inhibit proper gross motor and sensory development. A posterior walker should be introduced to your child by a trained physical therapist and his time using it must be closely monitored by a caregiver or therapist.

Ok, So...
Now that you may have changed your mind about buying a commercial walker, you might want to throw the big question out there, “When should my baby walk?” There is a very large age range for this skill and many factors determine when it comes. Some children with Ds start walking as early as 14 months, others are over the age of 4 before they master it. So unless a doctor or therapist has indicated that there may be a secondary cause for delayed walking, be patient... it will come. And, for those times you need to confine your child for his safety (or your sanity), stick with an exersaucer or playpen.

9 comments:

  1. the walker is such a tricky contraption! I did not put Maddie in a walker...but I did a johnny jumper...for leg strength and trunk...the OT sad no to all of it!! Maddie is getting there! thanks for the great post...smiles

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  2. We used several kinds of "walkers". They were actually push toys not walkers that a child sits in. Here is a link to my blog post about the first push toy/ walker Matthew used http://billandria.blogspot.com/2010/12/toy-review-tuesday-brilliant-basics.html. It was also important for Matthew to get the sensory input in his legs when he wasn't walking independently yet. While holding on to my hands, Matthew practiced walking on uneven surfaces, with and without shoes on, treadmill training for a little bit, leg massages, swimming.
    But anyway, we never really confined Matthew once he was crawling around proficiently. Once he was crawling, we put the jumperoo and exersaucer away. He would just crawl around where I was at.

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  3. Love this post. I was just asking questions on my blog about a week or so ago about walkers. We had a stationary walker that was okay. However it doesn't let your child get into the leg movement, but may build strength. We found it collecting dust a bit and then we just got a pony walker. So my son seems to be having more fun and learning that he has to move his legs to move. It also has brakes so that is good. We like it here. We don't do any jolly jumpers due to a problematic g tube. We get our's to borrow for free which is great. We are now adding orthotics too. Wysdom is 2 and a half and is not yet standing, however we are happy with the progress from the pony walker.

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  4. we did treadmill training to get mayson to learn to walk correctly. then eventually added a walker and it was amazing what she did after that!! she didnt walk until 32 months but she walks correctly!!

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  5. Hope you don't mind, I am a father of a 6 year old with Downs and we had a walker for him similar to the one pictured above. I was very much against him getting one because I felt like it would just become a crutch for him or make him learn to walk incorrectly. I was WRONG! His walking abilities just went through the roof within a week of using it. All of our furniture and our toes were slightly damaged though, haha. But within a month he was walking between his mother and I and we would get farther apart each day until he could walk across the room on his own fairly well. I would recommend a walker to anyone , and at least try it out and see what you think. Great site and I plan on showing this to my wife.

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  6. Rike from GermanyApril 8, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    Here in Germany there´s consense that "walkers" like the one you write about first aren´t good for the childs developement (they are sold&bought anyway) It´s considered that it´s not good for kids to be put in such "unnatural" positions, I guess thats the reason why bumbos are not sold here at all...

    Most kids here have a walker similar to the one Ria wrote about. They are usually made from wood and you can put weight (books etc) inside to stabilize them. (just an example: http://siebenschoen-berlin.com/puppen/puppenwagen/lauflernwagen-5l)

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  7. I have some very laughable memories of my son and his walker...
    both envolved his walker and the door. He was VERY independent and did not want my help.
    I remember the first time I brought him back to preschool... I was worried about what the other children might think/say about his new contraption... I was secretly hoping we could make a quiet entrance and then my son could go off and play by w/o attracting attention. Well, because he was so independent... he would not let me hold the door open for him so it became wedged in the storm door... so he proceeded to wrestle with it making all kinds of noise and commotion... when we finally entered ALL eyes were on us with mouths ajar... but to my delight... my son just parked his walker and went off to play without a care in the world. My other story envolved the grocery store... yet again... Mr. Independence would not allow any help with the door... not even the electronic one... so as we entered he wrestled with the door and his walker while I watched. I wish I could attach a picture of some the the looks I received from shoppers... they thought I was the meanest Mom ever for standing just watching and waiting. I have many 'mr independence' stories but I found it has served him well these past 7 years.
    On a side note I wanted to tell you about a great video I recently saw about a father's journey to try and understand Down syndrome and what the diagnosis would mean for his son! It was amazing... wonderful... it truly showed the beauty of children with Ds and it capatured my heart! Please check it out... I can't say enough good things about it!
    http://www.dakotaspride.com/

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eaS54b9z7o&feature=player_embedded
    All my best to you and your family!

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  8. hey i am a new follower please follow me back

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  9. This is unrelated to your entry but I stumbled upon your blog after discovering that our unborn son has DS. I appreciate your blog and what it has to offer! Thank you for sharing your story and your family. It gives me a new hope and excitement to meet our son in May :)

    -Those Newmans
    barryandashley.wordpress.com

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