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Babywalkers: prevalence of use and relationship with other safety practices
  1. Denise Kendrick1,
  2. Patricia Marsh2
  1. 1Division of General Practice, School of Community Health Sciences, Nottingham University Medical School, Clifton Boulevard, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK
  2. 2Division of Public Health Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Community Health Sciences, University of Nottingham Medical School
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Kendrick (e-mail: Denise.Kendrick{at}


Objective—To examine the prevalence of walker use, and to compare sociodemographic factors, perceptions of the risk of injury and of household hazards, and safety practices in families by walker use.

Setting—36 primary care practices across Nottingham, UK.

Method—Postal questionnaire to all parents of children aged 3–12 months registered at each practice (n=2152) to assess safety practices, perceptions of risk of injury, and of the risk associated with household hazards and sociodemographic factors. Data were analysed using χ2 tests for categorical data, Mann-Whitney U tests for ordinal data, and logistic regression analysis.

Results—The response rate was 74%. Fifty per cent of parents used babywalkers. Receipt of means tested benefits (odds ratio (OR) 1.42, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02 to 1.99), non-owner occupation (OR 1.46, 95% CI 1.04 to 2.04), residence in a deprived area (OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.91), and unemployment (OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.41 to 0.99) were independently associated with use of walkers. Families using babywalkers were less likely to use stair gates (χ2 = 4.36, 1df, p=0.037), fireguards (χ2 = 6.80, 1df, p=0.009), and had a higher total number of unsafe practices (Mann-Whitney U test , Z = −2.90, p=0.004). Perceptions of risk of injury and of the risk associated with household hazards however, did not differ by walker use.

Conclusions—Babywalker use is common across all social groups and is associated with other unsafe practices such as not using stair gates or fireguards. Health professionals should support campaigns to limit the sale of babywalkers, but, in addition, they should ascertain each family's reasons for walker use and try to find acceptable alternatives. They should also make the family aware of the importance of properly fitted stair gates and fireguards and help the family to obtain and use such items of safety equipment.

  • babywalkers
  • safety practices
  • socioeconomic status

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