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Scooter for Babies

Do you remember the motorized pink Barbie cars and red convertibles that children used to drive around the yard and neighborhood cul-de-sacs?  Well, today there is an entirely new concept that has been introduced with a new product which just hit the market called the WeeBot.  The WeeBot is a scooter for babies that is best comparable to the two-wheeled Segway that adults have become familiar with.

The idea behind the scooter is to allow infants to explore movement through the shifting of their weight.  It has a motorized base, a booster seat and a Nintendo Wii balance board.

Carole Dennis, an associate professor of occupational therapy at Ithaca College, has been teaching babies how to use the WeeBot.  She claims that the learning is practically intuitive for the infants.  “Learning doesn’t seem to depend on age; it seems to depend on the ability to move freely in the environment,” said Dennis, who uses toys to teach babies the WeeBot basics. “We call it driver training. They develop the expectation very early on that if they lean they’re going to get a toy.”

There was a recent study published in the September issue of journal Physiotherapy that revealed results of the WeeBot when tested on infants aged 5-8 months old.  The study proved that infants could successfully use the WeeBot to move in the direction they wanted to go.  Results showed that the infants successfully reached the toy they wanted 88 percent of the time when using the weight shifting scooter, compared to a joystick-operated scooter which was successful only 24 percent of the time.

Dennis has also been working with babies with disabilities using the WeeBot.  She is currently searching for participants for a WeeBot clinical trial which will test infants with disabilities and their development using the scooter.  Dennis claims that the trial will hopefully help shine some light on whether or not the mobility can help boost cognitive, perceptual or language development.

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