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Public warnings
21 February 2013

Parents are being reminded of the potential dangers of baby walkers, with stronger warning labels being required on the devices.


The Commissioner of Consumer and Business Services Paul White said under changes to the mandatory standard which just came into force, the walkers must be fitted with a label warning of potential dangers, even when using the parking brake.


Baby walkers consist of a frame mounted on wheels or castors that surrounds the infant, allowing the toddler to stand up and move around on their feet while they are still at the crawling stage or are learning to walk..


“Child safety experts, including Kidsafe, do not recommend baby walkers due to concerns about potential injury, as well as possible delays in learning to walk when children use them frequently,” Commissioner White said.


“However, if parents still choose to use them, they must be aware of the potential dangers associated with the walkers. There is potential for serious injuries, with reports of head injuries and other serious fracture injuries occurring if the walker tips over or falls down stairs.


“The new warning, part of the new national standard set by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, relates to the parking brake that locks the wheels on the walker, similar to locks on strollers or prams."


“Parents might think they are okay to leave the room and do something else for short periods and leave the child unattended, but this isn’t recommended.”


“The child can still move the walker with the wheels locked, move towards stairs, or climb up onto it and do themselves a serious injury.”


“That’s why the new warning label will have the extra wording “even when using the parking brake” and to strongly suggest to parents that they block stairwells and steps when young children are using walkers.”


“Toddlers in walkers can also gain access to hazardous areas that they can’t normally reach, such as kitchen bench tops where they may find hot food or drinks, on stovetops and other appliances that can cause burns and in utensil drawers.


There are specific guidelines which determine their design, construction and safe operation, but a recent clarification in warnings issued with the devices will add an extra dimension of safety for parents who intend using them.


“The message is that infants in these devices can injure themselves in a myriad of ways and should never be left alone and unattended, even if the adult thinks the walker is locked and can’t go anywhere. It can – the child can – and the results can be tragic.”