Last updated on Jun 11th, 2021 at 11:29 am

According to statistics compiled by Netcare’s emergency departments countrywide, 47 babies have been treated for walking ring related accidents since 2012.

This might not sound like a very serious number, but for a device that’s being marketed as a safe way for baby to learn to walk, parents should be made aware of their potential dangers.

“While they may seem a harmless aid, accidents with walking rings have caused some serious injuries in babies over the years,” says Rene Grobler, Netcare’s national quality and systems manager for trauma and emergency.

She says 47 babies, (all about 8-months-old), were treated for injuries ranging in severity from minor to critical at Netcare emergency departments since 2012, following accidents with walking rings.

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“Of these, 4% had been critically injured, and 72% had serious to moderate injuries, with the remaining 24% of babies sustaining minor to moderate injuries. This illustrates that the walking ring is by no means harmless,” she says.

How can a walking ring be dangerous?

  • A walking ring makes it possible for a baby to propel themselves incredibly quickly – at a rate of up to a meter per second. In the blink of an eye, your child could be sent careening downstairs or head-first into a wall. The wheels on walking rings are usually very basic and may hook or get stuck on carpets or furniture, or break easily, adding further potential for accidents.
  • Even if a baby is being closely supervised, the fast and uncontrolled movement of a walking ring makes it virtually impossible to prevent injuries that can happen unbelievably quickly.

“Most of the injuries recorded were to the babies’ head or face, and these injuries can be especially serious at such a young age. Childhood head injuries can be very serious with potentially lasting consequences, and medical attention should always be sought immediately,” says Rene.

ALSO SEE: Common toddler injuries and how to avoid them

  • Babies in walking rings may also be injured by pulling on electrical cables or table cloths, potentially upsetting a kettle or electrical appliance onto themselves, causing burns.
  • Another risk when it comes to ‘space-saving’ folding walking rings is that the mechanism may fail while in use, causing it to collapse and potentially resulting in injury to the baby.

“Previously it was believed that using a walking ring may help babies learn to walk sooner, however, it is now understood that if used excessively, this may potentially delay walking. It has also been suggested that a walking ring may not be ideal, as stumbling, falling and getting back up are part of normal development. Babies also learn a lot simply from exploring their environment with their hands before they are able to walk,” Rene explains.