State lawmaker wants to ban baby walkers in New Jersey; calls them ‘dangerous’

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CRANBURY -

A New Jersey state lawmaker says that she wants to ban baby walkers in the state because they are dangerous.

Baby walkers are wheeled devices in which infants can be placed to allow them to move independently around the house. Democratic state Sen. Linda Greenstein is sponsoring a bill to ban the items. She points to research that shows thousands of infants are injured because of them annually.

“I believe and apparently doctors believe that these are inherently dangerous objects,” she says. “Even if you take your eyes off a baby, an infant, for a couple of seconds there can be an accident.”

Under the legislation, anyone who sells or tries to sell a baby walker would be fined up to $10,000. Police could confiscate walkers up for sale.

“While some people might look at a very cute, very brightly-colored baby walker and say, ‘This couldn't be dangerous. This is a baby toy,’” says Greenstein. “It really is used by some parents as a form of babysitting. And that's the problem.”

Baby walkers are banned in Canada, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has advocated for them to be banned in the U.S. The Academy has logged several fatalities and hundreds of thousands of injuries over the last 25 years.

Greenstein says that children can “fall down steps. They get concussions, brain injuries. And to me, any time a baby is walking along with that, they can fall into a swimming pool or fall down steps or tumble over.”

Studies have shown that injuries from baby walkers decreased after manufacturers made the walkers wider than a standard doorway and added braking features. But Greenstein says, “There's nothing you can do to make them safe enough. And it's the responsibility of government to protect the most vulnerable.”

Greenstein says she has not yet shopped the bill around to other legislators and she is the only co-sponsor so far. The bill passed in committee last week with 4 votes to 1. The one vote against was Republican Sen. Declan O'Scanlon. O'Scanlon called the bill "a preemption of parental discretion and responsibility."

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