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Child Safety

Baltimore County Department of Health
6401 York Road, Third Floor
Baltimore, Maryland 21212-2130

Phone: 410-887-2738
TTY users call via Maryland Relay

Baby Walkers – Helpful or Harmful?

Safety Facts

  • Between 1989 to 1991, six babies died from walker injuries in the United States.
  • In 1991, 28,000 babies in the United States were treated in emergency rooms for injuries from walkers.
  • The most common cause of serious injuries is from falls down stairs.
  • Gates were present but not latched in one-third of the falls down stairs.
  • One-half to one-third of all babies using a walker suffer some injury.
  • Walkers can flip on uneven surfaces.
  • Babies in walkers can move faster than a watching adult can reach them.
  • Burns and scalds can occur because a walker allows the baby to reach higher.

Developmental Facts

  • Walkers do not teach babies to walk.
  • Walkers do not help babies to walk earlier.
  • Walkers can delay crawling.
  • Walkers cause babies to tiptoe, which may delay normal walking.
  • Walkers can decrease learning because they limit the baby's use of hands in exploring objects.

Other Ways to Keep Your Child Safe and Happy

  • Childproof your rooms and let your baby crawl.
  • Floor-play with your baby for short times often during the day.
  • Change the toys the baby plays with during the day.
  • Provide a playpen as a safe haven for short periods.
  • Remove the wheels from the walker.

Before you use a walker, discuss it with your baby's nurse or doctor. If you choose to use a walker, use it no longer than 15 minutes, twice a day.

Position the baby properly in the walker:

  • Seated
  • Feet on the floor
  • Knees bent
  • Tray at chest level

Tips for Safe Walker Use

Provide constant supervision while your baby is in a walker. You should:

  • Never leave your baby alone.
  • Never use a walker near open stairs.
  • Never use a walker by a swimming pool.
  • Never carry the baby in a walker.
  • Use walkers only on a flat surface.
  • Keep babies in walkers away from hot stoves, hot liquids, space heaters and radiators.
  • Lock the basement door with a child proof latch.
  • Delay walker use until your baby can sit alone.
  • Stop walker use once the baby can stand alone.

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Infant Sleep Safety

Baltimore County’s Child Death Review team reports that the number of infant deaths due to unsafe sleeping positions and the places where the baby is sleeping is increasing.  Most of these deaths occurred to healthy infants from birth to seven months of age.

The Baltimore County Department of Health would like to share the following resources to help parents and caregivers keep babies safe while they are sleeping:

Sleep Safety Tips

Please follow these simple sleep safety tips every time you put a baby down to sleep:

  • Always put your baby to sleep alone. Never put your baby to sleep with other babies, children, adults or pets.
  • Always put your baby on his or her back to sleep.
  • Always put your baby in a safe crib or bassinet. Never use:
    • Bed or waterbed
    • Sofa or chair
    • Pillows, quilts or comforters
  • Always keep the crib clutter free. No bumpers, toys, stuffed animals or clothing.

Please help us by sharing this life-saving information.

  • Talk to everyone who takes care of your baby.
  • Share it with new parents and those who are expecting a baby.
  • Share with your friends and colleagues.

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Toy Safety

Small Toys are Dangerous for Small Children

  • The federal government has established a size for safe toys for children under three. A small part should be at least one and one quarter inches in diameter and two and one quarter inches long. Any part smaller than this is a potential choking hazard.
  • Age labeling is important.
  • Labels such as "for ages three and older" often indicate that the toy might have small parts or sharp edges, which could be dangerous for a young child.

Fact: Children are Tough on Toys

  • Make sure you choose toys that can take it. Test buttons, bells and stuffed animals' eyes to make sure they won't pull off. Make sure rattles are strong enough that they won't come apart and that squeeze toys don't have squeakers or whistles that can be pulled out.
  • Edges and points are dangerous. Give infants and toddlers soft toys to play with.
  • Do not buy glass or hard plastic toys that could break and leave jagged edges.

Toys in Cribs can be Dangerous

Babies can get tangled up in toys with long strings or elastic. If a crib toy has strings longer than 12 inches, do not buy it. Any toy with elastic can be dangerous, and crib gyms are not safe for older babies who can get up on their hands and knees.

Obey Bike Safety Rules...Bikes are Toys, Too

A child who is old enough to ride a bike or who rides in a bike seat needs a helmet. It's the law.

Yard Sale Bargains May Not be a Bargain

Avoid buying broken toys which may have sharp edges and toys with small parts that pull off. Be especially careful to avoid used or hand-me-down toys for children under three. Many older toys may have been manufactured before safety standards were created for them.

Some Toys are Dangerous From the Start

Keep children away from darts, lawn darts, projectiles, air rifles and guns. Electrical toys can be dangerous, too. Young children should be discouraged from playing with or near electricity.

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Additional Child Safety Resources

You Care, So Be Aware Child Safety Resources provide information on several child safety topics including:

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Revised November 24, 2014


Revised April 6, 2016        

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