Objective—To assess parental decision making in the acquisition of an infant walker and the influences surrounding that decision.
Design/methods—Caretakers of children attending a residents' continuity practice during a one month period were invited to participate in a structured interview to assess various aspects of infant safety. Ten questions specifically addressed infant walkers and the decision to acquire one; seven questions collected demographic data.
Results—One hundred and fifty four primary caretakers participated. Of these, 77% (n=119) of caretakers used infant walkers for their child. For children who were not first born, 85% of caretakers had used walkers with their other children. No statistically significant differences were found between walker users and non-users with respect to the sex or birth order of the child, race, education, or (type of) caretaker. Also, no differences were found between these groups with respect to having received safety information from the pediatrician. For users, 97% heard about walkers before their baby's birth, but 65% did not decide to use one until after the birth. In addition, 61% of walker users stated that no one influenced their decision to get a walker and 75% bought their own. These decisions were not affected by caretaker education or birth order of the child. Finally, 78% believed that walkers were beneficial, and 72% believed that walker use accelerated development of independent walking skills.
Conclusions—Mothers purchased walkers because of no uniformed perception of benefit. A period of time, up to several months in length, exists from when the first mother hears about walkers until she decides to purchase one. Until legislation can be passed banning walkers, this period of time may provide a window of opportunity for appropriate anticipatory guidance in the form of intense media assisted, antiwalker campaigns.
- infant walkers
- parenting decisions
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