Vintage Wicker Baby Walkers: Capturing How Babies Learned to Walk in the Early 1900s-1920s
Since the 15th century, baby walkers have helped toddlers learn to walk and encouraged upright posture. They prevented dangerous tumbles into hot stoves and fireplaces, but with regular usage, wooden and wicker baby walkers had considerable wear and tear. Over time, baby walkers have gone by many names and designs, with the most popular design in the 18th century being a wooden frame with four slanting posts and some cross pieces.
In the 19th century, small shelves for toys and springs for jumping were added, and by the 20th century, walkers were made of colorful plastic with various added shelves and toys. However, there are concerns about the safety of baby walkers, and the number of related injuries is likely an underestimation due to various terms used in academic or news reports for these devices.
Organizations such as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Kids In Danger have issued warnings against the use of baby walkers, and direct education of parents in a medical setting has reduced their willingness to use such devices. In Canada, the sale of baby walkers was banned in 2004, including modified and second-hand walkers.
In the United States, annual baby-walker-related injuries dropped from around 21,000 in 1990 to around 3,200 in 2003 due to publicity about their dangers and voluntary safety improvements by manufacturers. After mandatory safety standards were adopted in 2010, including testing requirements and brakes to prevent stair falls, annual injuries dropped a further 23%.