South Africa

Why walking rings can be dangerous: 47 babies injured in accidents

Why walking rings can be dangerous: 47 babies injured in accidents

The use of walking rings as a mobility aid to help babies learn to walk have led to serious infant injuries in SA.

Statistics compiled by Netcare emergency departments across the country have revealed that 47 babies, at an average of eight months, have been treated for walking ring injuries by the health-care group since 2012.

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

Of the 47 injured infants who received treatment, "four percent had been critically injured, and 72% had serious to moderate injuries, with the remaining 24% of babies sustaining minor to moderate injuries. This illustrates the walking ring is by no means harmless', she said on Wednesday.   

Most injuries recorded were to the head and face, potentially serious at such a young age.

Aiming to reduce preventable accidents, Netcare’s national trauma injury prevention (TIP) programme is alerting parents to potential dangers posed by walking rings.

The programme aims to reduce the risks of injury through educational initiatives and sharing of practical advice to promote safer behaviour.

In the blink of an eye, your child could be sent careening downstairs or head-first into a wall.
Rene Grobler, Netcare

“A walking ring makes it possible for a baby to propel themselves incredibly quickly, at a rate of up to a metre per second. In the blink of an eye, your child could be sent careening downstairs or head-first into a wall,” said Grobler. 

“The wheels on walking rings are usually basic and may hook or get stuck on carpets or furniture, or break easily, adding further potential for accidents.”

Mande Toubkin, general manager of emergency, trauma, transplant and corporate social investment at Netcare, said: “Awareness is a very powerful tool for helping to protect children from harm. If even one child can be spared injury because their parents and caregivers were made aware of the dangers associated with walking rings, this could make a big difference in that child’s future.”

Babies in walking rings could also be injured by pulling on electrical cables or table cloths, potentially upsetting a kettle or electrical appliance.

“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 result in injury to the baby," added Grobler.

TimesLIVE