Around 6 or 7 months, when baby sits alone but does not yet walk, we may be tempted to install him in a youpala. This kind of baby walker would promote walking, letting the child move thanks to the movement of the legs and feet. However, its use is widely criticized by professionals in the sector. The reproaches are numerous, because it would slow down the normal development of the motor skills of the baby and the machine would even be dangerous. It has also been banned for sale in Canada since 2004 and banned in France in nurseries and childminders. So what are the concrete risks and disadvantages of youpala ?
The youpala and the risks of delay in learning to walk
In France, the youpala is still very popular with families, while the majority of professionals strongly advise against it. Parents often have the idea that this accessory offers a double advantage: helping the child to walk faster and giving him more autonomy. On the other hand, if we follow the opinion of medical and paramedical professionals, the youpala would be of no use in the acquisition of walking and could conversely delay it. But what exactly should you worry about?
The youpala prevents the child from learning to stand on their own and testing their balance
Most often composed of a harness, a seat and a tray on which the child leans, the youpala seems to induce a vertical position similar to that adopted during walking. However, in this kind of walker, baby does not need to be balanced on both feet to move forward. He may then be tempted to adopt a posture contrary to that of natural walking and lean forward. In addition, he only needs the balls of his feet to move forward.
Ultimately, the youpala risks delaying the acquisition of walking and balance because it does not leave the possibility for the baby to follow the classic steps to achieve this. When installed in it, the child does not have to search for his center of gravity, he does not work his balance or his joints and does not exercise his arm-leg coordination, which is absolutely necessary for success. to walk.
The baby walker limits the use of supports and risks delaying walking
Suspended and helped by the wheels of his walker, baby does not need to lean on his legs to move forward or put his heel down by unrolling his foot, as you can do naturally when walking. However, to learn to walk, the child needs on the contrary to test his supports even if it means becoming unbalanced or falling on his buttocks a few times!
Without youpala, most babies follow the same steps: moving on all fours, then standing and leaning against the furniture, to finally put one foot in front of the other and try to move forward on their own without support. . With the parallel use of a walker, these steps are likely to take longer. Finally, a baby placed too early in a youpala risk of walking 3 to 6 weeks later than others on averageand especially to deform his arch of the foot as well as his hips.
The youpala and the risk of domestic accidents
If the European Association for Child Safety (European Child Safety Alliance) claims that the youpala be prohibited for sale in the European Union for several years, it is not for nothing. In addition to issues related to the child’s physical development, risks of domestic accidents are just as numerous.
Risk of falling on stairs
In France, 80% of domestic accidents involving youpalas occur following a fall down the stairs. Indeed, installed on wheels, the child can move much faster than walking alone without support. The speed, coupled with the weight of the baby, makes the protective barriers as well as the doors give way more easily in the event of an impact. Used upstairs, even with protection at the top of the steps, the risk of falling on the stairs is therefore important.
Risk of injury due to acceleration and impact
While the child is simply testing the displacement with the youpala, the machine can “go into overdrive” and pick up speed very quickly, without the child noticing the risks. With no way for baby to brake, the youpala can easily bump into walls or furniture. The shock can then cause injury or even the spilling objects on baby.
Accident due to tipping backwards
If the youpala can be stopped by a wall or a piece of furniture, it also happens that the machine tilts backwards in full swing. On the one hand, baby does not need to adopt a perfectly vertical position to stand in it, so he can sometimes place his supports backwards and easily tip over because of this. On the other hand, the child may very well be afraid of something or simply be surprised, creating a sudden movement of recoil followed, again, by a rocking back. In this case, the risk of accident and head injury is very present.
Accident due to electrical cables and cords
Youpalas are usually equipped with small casters that can get caught in anything left on the floor, especially electrical cords and extension cords. Although we know that the cables must be stored in the presence of a baby, no one is safe from forgetting. Quite thin, phone charger cords and other USB cables can go unnoticed in the environment and particularly amplify the risks. Consequently, one quickly causes a accident with overturning of the youpala.
How to promote learning to walk without using youpala?
Before worrying about a possible delay in the acquisition of walking for your child, keep in mind that this learning is generally acquired between 12 and 18 months. It depends on the development of his muscles, his brain and whether or not he is psychologically ready to risk moving on his own. However, if you want to give nature a helping hand, we advise you to avoid the youpala. Prefer the awakening mat first. The child will be able to exercise his motor skills freely, trying to turn around, crawl and then walk on all fours. Then you can submit a walking cart which requires the support of the legs and feet to move forward. This accompanies the development of the child because he must first be able to stand before he can use it. Thus, there is less risk of wanting to skip the steps or fall behind.
Site of Pierre-François LAURENT Osteopath DO in Charenton-le-Pont, specialized in paediatrics: https://charenton-osteo.fr/youpala-trotteur-dangereux-pour-bebe/
Site of the General Council of Val-de-Marne: https://www.valdemarne.fr/le-conseil-departemental/enfants/education/protection-maternelle-et-infantile-pmi/halte-au-youpala