A baby walker is a device that may be used by babies who are not yet able to walk by themselves. Baby walkers are generally used so that the infant is capable of moving from one area to another without assistance. Contemporary baby walkers possess a foundation of strong plastic, resting on top of a set of wheels. The suspended cloth seat has two leg holes to allow the infant's feet to touch the ground. A baby walker frequently offers toys attached to the top to entertain the child.
A number of baby walkers have been connected to a variety of injuries, and even deaths, primarily as a result of the walker failing to stop at a step and falling down stairways. Prior to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) standards set for infant walkers in 1997, many baby walkers were small enough to fit through a standard doorway, and had no braking or mechanized gripping feature that would prevent the walker from falling down stairs.
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has set safety standards for baby walkers. The Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Infant Walkers, published in 1997, states that all baby walkers must meet at least one of two requirements. Any baby walker manufactured and introduced into the market must either be too wide to fit through a standard doorway, or it must have a gripping mechanism or other feature that will stop it at the edge of a step. Any infant walkers not meeting with the criteria set forth by the CPSC are subject to a recall.
In 2008, an estimated 3,600 injuries connected to baby walkers were reported to the CPSC.
Between 2004 and 2006, five infant deaths connected to baby walkers were reported to the CPSC. Between 2001 and 2003, there were two infant deaths under the age of 15 months associated with baby walkers.
Examples of baby walkers that have been recalled due to a failure to meet CPSC Standards or having other defects include:
Safety 1st Inc, of Canton, Massachusetts announced a recall in August 2000 to repair approximately 170,000 baby walkers. The “4 Wheelin” Walkers shaped like cars have a 3-spoke steering wheel attachment. Eight reports were received about infants catching their teeth in parts of the steering wheel. Six of these infants lost lower front teeth as a result. In addition, 44 cases were reported of a button on the telephone attachment loosening or falling off, posing a choking hazard. One report of a 6-month-old infant girl choking and gagging on a telephone button that had become detached from the phone was received. Model numbers 45701, 45701A, and 45701B are included in the recall. The walkers were sold from April 1998 to April 1999 at mass merchandise and discount department stores.
In October 2002, Oriental International Trading Company, of Los Angeles, California, recalled approximately 3,500 baby walkers because they were in violation of the CPSC standard regulations for baby walkers. The walkers were not designed to stop at a step, and could fit through a standard doorway. The “Honey” model baby walker with model numbers 802, 820, 860, and 862 is included in the recall. These model numbers are visible on the back of the seat of the baby walker. The walkers included an activity tray and a padded seat and were available in yellow, pink, or blue. These walkers were sold at discount stores in California, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, New York, and North Carolina between May 2001 and June 2002.
About 800 baby walkers were recalled in October 2008 by My Way Corp, of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The baby walkers are in violation of CPSC standard regulations. They would not stop at the edge of a step and were capable of fitting through a standard doorway. The baby walkers included a steering wheel, activity tray, and other attached toys. They were sold between November 2004 and March 2008 at discount stores in Puerto Rico, and were available in green, red, blue, ivory, and pink. A sticker reading, “My Way Corp” is located at the front of the walker.