When visiting a toy store or when shopping on Amazon, you might be tempted to make a purchase decision based solely on your intuition or the preferences of your baby. While you might get lucky and leave with a fantastic baby walker, you’ll have much better chance of selecting a truly great baby walker if you first familiarize yourself with some of the things that separate exceptional baby walkers from mediocre ones.
To choose the best baby walker you will need to pay attention to: Type, Weight Restriction, Safety, Comfort, Adjustability, Design and Build Quality, Cleaning, Toys, Battery Requirements, Storage, Brand name.
- 1 Different Types of Baby Walkers
- 2 Weight Restriction
- 3 Baby Walker Safety Tips
- 4 Comfort
- 5 Adjustability
- 6 Design and Build Quality
- 7 Cleaning
- 8 Cleaning Versus Disinfecting
- 9 Toys
- 10 Battery Requirements
- 11 Storage
- 12 Brands
- 13 Frequently Asked Questions
- 13.0.1 How Old Should a Baby Be to Use a Walker?
- 13.0.2 How to Teach Baby to Walk in Walker?
- 13.0.3 Is your baby ready for a walker?
- 13.0.4 Does your baby seem interested in a walker?
- 13.0.5 Is your home walker-proof?
- 13.0.6 Can you be there with your baby?
- 13.0.7 Are Baby Walkers Safe to Use?
- 13.0.8 Are Walkers Good for Babies?
- 13.0.9 Why Are Baby Walkers Banned in Canada?
- 13.0.10 Should I Choose a Baby Jumper Instead?
- 13.0.11 Who Invented the Baby Walker?
Different Types of Baby Walkers
There are two major types of baby walkers: classic baby walkers and sit-to-stand baby walkers. Let's see the what is the difference between this two types.
Classic baby walkers feature a wide base with support arms connected to a play area with an integrated seat. Sometimes the support arms are foldable for easier storage, and most classic baby walkers come with a detachable seat for easier cleaning.
When buying a classic baby walker, try to find one that’s stable, made from non-toxic materials, and has plenty of entertaining and educational toys attached to it. If you’re not sure where to start, go to the previous section of this article and read our brand recommendations.
Sit to stand
Sit-to-stand baby walkers are less expensive than classic baby walkers, making them great for parents on a tight budget. The main purpose of this type of baby walkers is to encourage babies to stand and walk. Sit-to-stand baby walkers typically offer multiple speed settings and height adjustability.
To extend the usefulness of sit-to-stand baby walkers, manufacturers often include a play panel with music, sounds, phrases, and songs. Best of all, most play panels can be detached for floor play.
Typically, baby walkers have a weight limit of only 25 pounds. Considering that many babies weigh 20 pounds when 7 months old (baby walkers are generally suitable from around 6 months), this can be a huge issue for parents of heavier babies.
What happens when you go over the limit? Usually nothing. Baby walkers are designed with safety in mind, and there’s usually a significant difference between the declared weight limit and the actual weight limit. That said, manufacturers have a good reason to lean heavily on the side of safety, and it would be highly irresponsible of you not to respect the maximum weight limit.
Most injuries related to the use of baby walkers are caused by what can only be described as improper use: parents not supervising their babies during play or not following the manufacturer’s instructions. And out of all different cases of improper use of baby walkers, going over the maximum limit has the worst potential consequences.
Baby walkers with a seat can collapse when the maximum weight limit is exceeded, trapping the baby inside and possibly even preventing him or her from breathing. Yes, the chance of this happening is incredibly slim even when parents grossly exceed the maximum weight limit, but it’s definitely not something you want to risk.
So, if your baby is too heavy for baby walkers, consider what alternative options you have, such as exersaucers or baby jumpers.
Baby Walker Safety Tips
To understand what you must do to keep your baby safe when using a baby walker, you must first understand what are some of the most serious dangers associated with baby walkers.
Firstly, some baby walkers can roll down the stairs, which is likely to result in severe head injuries and broken bones. In fact, this is how most children get hurt in baby walkers. To combat this, “manufacturers began making walkers wider so they’d have a harder time fitting through most doors.
Walkers also got brakes that automatically stop them when one wheel drops lower than the other three—for instance when a walker starts to roll off the top of a step. But even with these changes, baby walkers still pose major risks,” explains Heidi Murkoff from What to Expect.
As a parent, you can eliminate the risk of your baby walker rolling down the stairs by never allowing your baby to use a baby walker alone. Many parents treat baby walkers as if they could replace a babysitter, which they definitely cannot.
Perhaps the second most serious danger associated with baby walkers stems from the fact that baby walkers allow babies to reach places that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. For example, a baby could pull a tablecloth off a table and spill hot coffee, grab pot handles off the stove, or get dangerously close to a fireplace. Again, the solution is to never let your baby use a baby walker alone.
Finally, a baby walker must be absolutely comfortable otherwise it can cause skin burns and bruises. In the next chapter, we talk more about comfort and what you should watch out for when selecting your first baby walker.
If you want your baby to be as comfortable as possible when using his or her baby walker, select one with an amply padded seat cushion with a high back support. Think back to your school days and remember what it was like to sit on those terrible wooden chairs that schools seem to enjoy torturing their pupils with.
Just like you, your baby appreciates comfortable padding underneath his or her tushy. Thankfully, thick seat padding has become a standard feature of nearly all baby walkers regardless of their price. Just make sure that it’s possible to easily remove the padding for washing.
Because small babies don’t have yet developed sufficient muscle strength to support their own body weight for an extended time period, an adequately high back support is necessary to ensure long-term comfort when using a baby jumper. Just like the seat itself, the back support should be aptly padded and washable.
Many baby walkers these days are adjustable, which is a great plus as all babies are different. Height adjustability is a must, and the ability to adjust how far apart the leg holes are is a nice bonus. If you have more than one baby, they can all share a single adjustable baby walker, which definitely beats buying a walker for each baby, and then figuring out where to store them all.
Design and Build Quality
Modern baby walkers are made from plastic materials. As you may know, not all types of plastics are equally safe, and some should be definitely avoided. While reputable manufacturers of baby walkers avoid hazardous materials at all cost, the same isn’t true when it comes to less reputable manufacturers, which there are plenty of. The plastic materials to avoid include:
PVC, also known as vinyl, is the world's third-most widely produced plastic polymer. It’s commonly used for bottles, bank and membership cards, as well as non-food packaging. Because the performance characteristics of raw PVC leave a lot to be desired, most PVC products contain phthalate plasticizers. “Phthalates are plasticizers that are added to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) products to impart flexibility and durability.
They are produced in high volume and generate extensive though poorly defined human exposures and unique childhood exposures. Phthalates are animal carcinogens and can cause fetal death, malformations, and reproductive toxicity in laboratory animals,” stated a study published in the Pediatrics.
Perhaps the best-known phthalate is Bisphenol A, better known as BPA. Being in use since 1957, it’s estimated that there are at least 3.6 million tonnes (8 billion pounds) of BPA produced yearly. BPA can be found in many common consumer goods, such as water bottles, sports equipment, CDs, and DVDs. According to a study titled Health risk of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), “The main sources of exposure to BPA include food packaging and dust, dental materials, healthcare equipment, thermal paper, toys and articles for children and infants.”
The researchers further state that BPA has been shown to play a role in the pathogenesis of several endocrine disorders, such as female and male infertility, precocious puberty, hormone-dependent tumors such as breast and prostate cancer and several metabolic disorders including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Clearly, baby walkers made from PVC containing phthalate plasticizers should be avoided at all cost. But how can you tell that a baby walker is BPA-free? In some cases, you, unfortunately, can’t. Because of the Internet, it’s very easy for less reputable manufacturers to offer hazardous products for sale and lie about their manufacturing methods and health and safety standards.
Unfortunately, it often takes months for even a single dishonest seller to get caught and by that time thousands of babies around the world might have been exposed to BPA and other dangerous chemicals. The solution? Stick to trusted manufacturers who have been around for some time and have received countless positive reviews.
Polystyrene is a synthetic aromatic polymer and one of the most widely used plastics. It’s mostly used in protective packaging because it’s an inexpensive resin per unit weight.
“The Harvard study reported that styrene is naturally present in trace quantities in foods such as strawberries, beef, and spices, and is naturally produced in the processing of foods such as wine and cheese.
The study also reviewed all the published data on the quantity of styrene contributing to the diet due to migration of food packaging and disposable food contact articles, and concluded there is cause for limited concern for the general public from exposure to styrene from foods or styrenic materials used in food-contact applications, such as polystyrene packaging and food service containers, especially after microwaving,” according to a publication in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health (JTEH).
As safe as raw polystyrene is, polystyrene manufacturers often add a flame retardant known as HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane) to make polystyrene less flammable. In 2016, the European Commission has amended its Regulation on persistent organic pollutants (POPs), to ban HBCD, according to ChemicalWatch.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency warns about the consequences of exposure to HBCD, saying “HBCD is known to be very toxic to aquatic organisms and there is also thought to be a risk that it will accumulate in these species. HBCD does not break down easily in aerated waters or soils, so may persist for a considerable time. In light of its potential to persist and bioaccumulate, HBCD is of global as well as local environmental concern.”
To protect your baby from the harmful negative health effects of polystyrene, throw away all protective packaging material as soon as you unbox your baby walker. If you’d like to be extra careful (and you should), consider washing all parts of the baby walker with a mild, general purpose detergent.
Polycarbonates are a group of thermoplastic polymers with many different applications, such as the manufacturing of electronic components, construction materials, and other miscellaneous items, including durable, lightweight luggage, digital audio player cases, ocarinas, computer cases, fountain pens, riot shields, or instrument panels.
When polycarbonates are exposed to water, they release Bisphenol A (BPA), an organic synthetic compound that has been banned by the European Union and Canada. Recently, France announced that it intends to propose BPA as a REACH Regulation candidate substance of very high concern (SVHC).
Because polycarbonates are often used in the manufacturing of baby bottles, tableware, molded discs, or cut pieces, it’s possible to find baby walkers with accessories made from this plastic material. Unless you’re willing to a sample to a laboratory for analysis at your own expense, it’s virtually impossible to distinguish a hazardous product from one that’s safe for use.
Your best bet is to avoid all manufacturers that have been known to use dangerous materials in the past, such as the three types of plastics described in this section. Thanks to the Internet, it’s very easy to research what reputation a manufacturer has and find out what the manufacturer’s customers have to say about the company.
The cleaning of baby toys and baby-related products is a surprisingly complex topic. Virtually all parents have wondered at some point how to remove hair from baby walker wheels or how to properly disinfect teething toys so that they can be shared among siblings.
The good news is that nearly everything your baby puts in his or her little mouth can be cleaned to perfection—you just need to know how to do it, and we’re here to teach you.
Plastic toys are the easiest to deal with because you can just toss them into the dishwasher and walk away. Of course, make sure the toys don’t have any electrical components or batteries inside as the water would certainly cause permanent damage.
If you don’t have a dishwasher, mild detergent and a toothbrush will do the trick as well. Try to clean every nook and cranny because your baby will definitely not leave any part untasted.
Wooden toys are considerably harder to clean because they become rough if dunked in water. Instead, it’s recommended to wipe them using a cloth dipped in a mixture of distilled white vinegar and water or mild soapy water. The same also applies to board books and rubber toys.
Blankets, stuffed animals, and knitted toys can sometimes be washed in the washing machine, which is by far the most convenient way how to keep them clean. If you dislike cleaning after your baby, consider making your life a little easier for yourself by strictly avoiding all toys that can’t be cleaned either in the dishwasher or the washing machine.
Cleaning Versus Disinfecting
As a parent, you should understand the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects.
Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.”
When you visit Amazon, you can find many disinfecting products, ranging from easy-to-use wipes to sprays. Such products are perfect when your friends come over for a visit and bring their babies with them.
If you don’t like the idea of watching your baby chew on a toy that was inside the mouth of another baby, you can quickly wipe the toy with a disinfecting wipe and instantly remove more than 99 percent of allergens like car and dog dander, dust mite debris, and pollen as well as 99.999 percent of common of bacteria. Just make sure to wash away any residue that might be left on the toy.
To make their products more enticing, manufacturers of baby walkers include various entertaining and educational toys with their products, hoping to increase their value in the eyes of the consumers.
Teething toys are among the most popular toys included with baby walkers, helping babies keep their tiny months busy. Teething toys come in many shapes, sizes, colors, and materials. A good teething toy contains no toxic chemicals, such as BPA, is easy to hold and use, and features a non-choking design.
Some babies prefer more naturally shaped teething toys, while other babies are interested in more exotic shapes that look nothing like human fingers.
Toys made from medical-grade silicone are much easier to keep clean and sanitary than toys made from porous materials that absorb fluids and smells. Silicone doesn’t support microbiological growth, doesn’t stick to many substrates, is thermally stable, has low toxicity, low chemical reactivity, and low thermal conductivity.
For these and other reasons, silicone is used in applications requiring high biocompatibility. Additionally, the gel form is used in bandages and dressings, testicle implants, breast implants, pectoral implants, contact lenses, and a variety of other medical uses, according to Wikipedia.
These days, more and more baby walkers come with battery-powered toys with lights and sounds. Such toys seldom fail to capture baby’s attention, but the batteries they run on need to be replaced occasionally. Sometimes, replacing the batteries is a simple matter of opening a battery compartment door and swapping the old batteries for new ones.
Depending on the toy’s intended use and the manufacturer’s commitment to safety, you might need a small screwdriver to unscrew one or two screws that keep the battery compartment door securely in place, preventing your baby from coming in contact with the batteries.
You might also stumble upon a baby walker with battery-powered toys that don’t provide any obvious way how to access the batteries. In that case, the manufacturer likely expects the batteries to last for the entire lifespan of the toys, which means that they should last for several months of daily use. While convenient from the user’s point of view, such toys decrease the resell value of the baby walker.
Baby walkers are great when they make babies happy and when they don’t get in the way. Sadly, the latter is seldom true. Unless you live in a very large home, you’ll likely find it just as difficult to store your baby walker as so many other parents do. Some manufacturers of baby walkers do their best to make things easier for parents when it comes to storage by making their baby walkers foldable.
A folded baby walker can be stored under the bed or inside the closet. When selecting a foldable baby walker, try to test the folding mechanism in person to see how durable it is. If you’re shopping online on sites like Amazon, pay attention to user reviews.
It’s far beyond the scope of this article to describe or even list all baby walker brands that you may come across on Amazon and other large online stores. For this reason, we are listing only ten largest and most reputable baby walker manufacturers.
Founded in 1968 by Thomas G. Murdough Jr. in Aurora, Ohio, Little Tikes is an American-based manufacturer of children’s toys with additional manufacturing and distribution facilities in Asia and Europe. The company specializes in low-tech molded plastic toys aimed primarily at infants and young children. In September 2006, Little Tikes was acquired by MGA Entertainment, an
American manufacturer of children’s toys and entertainment products founded in 1979. Little Tikes is known best for their red and yellow Cozy Coupe toy car, which reached 6 million units in sales by its 25th anniversary in 2004, becoming one of the world’s best-selling toy cars of the decade, according to The New York Times.
“At Little Tikes we understand every day is an adventure with more to discover. We make products that encourage active and imaginative play,” states the company on its website. “We have built our reputation on making safe, durable products. The safety of children is our number one priority. Little Tikes is confident that the testing procedures we have (and have had in place) throughout our organization supports our commitment to ensure that only high quality, safe products, meeting all safety requirements are produced. Little Tikes utilizes independent, industry-recognized, third-party testing laboratories to ensure that our products are safe and meet or in most cases, exceed the applicable global safety standards.”
Founded in 1958, Chicco is a brand of Artsana, an Italian company that was founded in 1946 by Pietro Catelli and is still active today in the distribution of healthcare and infant care products. Chicco has facilities in over 120 countries, and has a range of products for the pregnancy and breastfeeding stages, first baby foods, hygiene and protection, out and about and traveling, relaxation, sleep, and play.
“We listen to the needs and emotions of parents and children. We understand them, we make them our own, and we have made it our mission to provide the best solutions for them. We know how and when to be there for them, working together in perfect harmony but without ever taking their place,” Chicco explains one of its core values on its website. “We take what we do extremely seriously. We take care to ensure that our products are safe, reliable and meet high-quality standards. We have over 50 years’ experience in the world of baby care, and we continue to build on this expertise through our work at the Chicco Baby Research Center,” the company adds.
Evenflo is a socially responsible manufacturer of car seats, travel systems, safety gates, high chairs, play yards, stationary activity centers, infant carriers, and doorway jumpers with manufacturing facilities in Piqua, Ohio and in Tijuana, Mexico. The company was founded in 1920, initially manufacturing products related to baby feeding. Evenflo, as we know it today, was created through the merger of Evenflo Juvenile Products and Evenflo Juvenile Furniture Company in 1995, and later acquired by private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. in 1996 and again in 1997 by Gerry Baby Products Company. Today, Evenflo is owned by Goodbaby International Holdings Limited, which is a juvenile products company listed on the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
“Our team has always been committed to a quest for excellence. To the Evenflo family, nothing is more important than the safety, well-being, and development of children. We work persistently to innovate and deliver to you best-in-class infant care and juvenile products. The Evenflo Company, Inc. goal is, and has been since the beginning, to be a partner to parents. We hope that the products we create and deliver to you provide value to your family,” writes Evenflo on its website.
Storkcraft has maintained a strong focus on innovation and safety since its founding in 1945 by a local artisan. Today, the company is a worldwide leader in baby and teen furniture. Storkcraft is comprised of industry-leading furniture brands, such as Graco, Conwood, and Status, just to name a few.
“Over the course of 70 years, Storkcraft has revolutionized the industry by focusing on innovation and customer satisfaction. Moreover, Storkcraft is also the industry pioneer in developing large-scale online sales programs, which ultimately made shopping much more accessible and convenient for customers, especially for those in remote areas. Storkcraft is proud to have provided families with affordable, innovative, stylish, quality products for over 70 years. Our commitment to product excellence and our responsiveness to the customers’ needs have galvanized Storkcraft as the manufacturer of choice for new and existing parents,” states the company on its website.
Delta Children is known as one of the safest and most trusted names in the industry, engineering wonderful products in the juvenile category. Over the years, the company has formed a number of great partnerships with today’s most prestigious brands, including Disney, Nickelodeon, Marvel, DreamWorks, Sanrio, Lucasfilm, Sesame Street, Simmons Kids, Serta, Jeep.
"Since 1968, Delta Children has strived to improve child safety through research, testing, design, and community engagement. In fact, our team works closely with leading safety organizations, like JPMA and ASTM to create industry standards that ensure your little one’s wellbeing. Delta Children believes every child deserves a safe place to sleep—and it’s our mission to make this a reality. That’s a promise from our family to yours,” explains Delta Children its commitment to safety.
Ever since Herman Fisher, Irving Price, Margaret Evans Price, and Helen Schelle founded Fisher-Price in 1930, the company has been bringing joy to children and parents across the United States. Since 1993, Fisher-Price is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel and is headquartered in East Aurora, New York. Over the years, the company has created approximately 5,000 different toys, including Fisher-Price’s best-known line of toys, Little People. You may also know Fisher-Price for such toys and toy brands as Power Wheels, View-Master, Rescue Heroes, the Chatter Telephone, and the Rock-a-Stack.
“Parents have trusted us for more than 80 years to provide safe products for their children, but we know we must still earn their trust every day,” says Kitty Pilarz, Vice President of Product Safety & Regulatory Compliance at Fisher-Price. “So, right from the start of a design concept, we work to make sure our products are as safe as they can be. We know that kids drop things, throw toys, mouth them, and more. Our products are going to be pulled, twisted, jostled, washed, dried, sometimes even stood on. Families hand down toys and gear or share them with friends, so they’ll be used by more than one child. That’s why we do such rigorous testing.”
Founded in 1996, Baby Einstein sells children-oriented products, including toys that specialize in interactive activities for infants and toddlers. For more than 10 years, Baby Einstein products were owned and operated by Disney, but the company has been owned and operated by Kids II, Inc., an infant and toddler product manufacturer based in Atlanta, Georgia, since October 2013. One interesting piece of trivia about Baby Einstein is the fact that the company pays royalties Corbis, a Los Angeles-based advertising and licensing agency, which compensates the Einstein estate.
According to the company’s website, “It started more than fifteen years ago with a mom eager to share her love of the arts and humanities with her baby. From that humble beginning, the brand has grown to encompass some of the most creative Baby Einstein baby products imaginable. A common thread runs through it all: The curiosity of young children—and the wish of parents everywhere to nourish it.”
Another baby walker brand owned and operated by Kids II, Inc. is Bright Starts. All Bright Starts products combine clever and engaging features with a design that is guaranteed to spark smiles and laughter in your growing baby.
"Little curious minds absolutely love the Lights, Lights Baby collection by Bright Starts, which dazzles and entertains with light displays, colorful characters, and melodies. If you have a little princess, why not give her joy with the Bright Starts Pretty in Pink collection, which offers adorably girly baby toys and gear, supporting a good cause as a portion of the proceeds benefits breast cancer research and awareness. Finally, there’s also the Having a Ball collection by Bright Starts, which features baby toys and entertainers packed with bouncing, ball-popping action. As you can see, Bright Starts has something for everyone".
VTech is one of a few Chinese toy and children product manufacturers that have earned the trust of Western consumers. The company was founded in 1976 by two Hong Kong entrepreneurs, Allan Wong and Stephen Leung. Initially, VTech focused on developing video games, but the company gradually shifted its focus and broadened its scope to also include electronic learning products, such as the Lesson One, which taught children basic spelling and math.
“VTech is a world leader in age-appropriate and developmental stage-based electronic learning products for children. As a pioneer in the learning toy category, VTech develops high-quality, innovative educational products that enrich children's development and make learning fun. With a rich, almost 40-year history, VTech has not only established itself as a learning authority but also consistently remains at the forefront of innovation with multiple award-winning products. The company also has a broad range of award-winning infant and preschool products available in 25 different languages worldwide, with more than 100 new products introduced every year,” VTech proudly states on its website.
This third-generation family owned and operated baby product manufacturer based in Chicago was founded in 1946 by Leo Koltun, who was at the time making pads for cribs, playards, and high chairs for post-World War II babies. During the following decade, Kolcraft started producing crib mattresses that offered families a choice of firmness levels using innerspring coils or foam cores. In the mid-1970’s and early 1980’s, the production moved to the United States, where the company began manufacturing high chairs and playards. Determine to strengthen the business even further, Kolcraft diversified into other baby gear categories throughout the next several decades. Today, Kolcraft mattresses and bedding have become the best-selling and the most recommended brand in the USA, and the company has partnered with brands like Jeep and Sesame Street with the intention to produce walkers, potty chairs, bouncers, swings, and toddler furniture.
“At Kolcraft, everything we do, we do for the love of family. This 70-year milestone is not just about my grandfather, my father and the extended family of Kolcraft employees around the world. It’s really about the families we create products for. We put our hearts into making millions of families’ lives easier with high quality, innovative baby products,” said Tom Koltun, the current president of Kolcraft. “Our partnership with the March of Dimes is also important to us to help fund important research programs to enable more families to have strong, happy babies.”
Frequently Asked Questions
How Old Should a Baby Be to Use a Walker?
Manufacturers design baby walkers for babies between the ages of 4 and 16 months. The reason why younger babies mustn’t use a walker is the fact that they still can’t hold their head up steadily without support. Play stations and static exercisers are two great alternatives for younger babies, so there’s no reason to force a baby who’s younger than 4 months to use a baby walker.
Keep in mind, however, that not all babies reach major developmental milestones right on the clock. Some babies take their time, while others develop much faster than their peers. Since this is not something that you can really change, it’s best not to worry too much about generic recommendations. Instead, pay attention to your baby and his or her needs and capabilities to determine when is the right time to start using a baby walker.
Apart from the requirement for a baby to be able to hold his head up steadily, a baby must also be able to reach with his feet to the floor to use a walker. Some baby walkers are height-adjustable, which makes them much more versatile than those that aren’t height-adjustable.
A baby walker also comes with a weight limit, which must be strictly adhered to in order to avoid the collapse of the entire walker, which is a fairly common source of baby walker-related injuries. Another relatively common source of baby walker injuries is improper assembly.
Adjustable walkers tend to be slightly more intricate than non-adjustable baby walkers, and they rely on relatively weak plastic parts and small metal hinges held together by a handful of screws. For this reason, we always recommend parents to assemble a baby walker in pair because two heads are smarter than one.
To be able to tell when it’s the right time to start using a baby walker, consider visiting online forums where parents share their experience with baby walkers. For example, user Jenny on discussion board called Circle of Mons says, “My daughter has been using her walker since about 4 months! She loves it! She had that thing down in 1 day! If we had Olympic walker races I would be the first in line to sign my daughter up! LoL She is now about to be 7 months old and she is wanting to walk instead of crawl so she is learning how to pull herself up. She fights with me when I try and get her to crawl. I absolutely love the walker!! I dont have to carry her all around the house anymore she can just follow me in her walker! Such a great invention.”
User Vicki share virtually the same experience, “Oh yea my daughter has been using her walker since she was 4 months... shes running in it now and chaseing our dog in it... and us... 🙂 Like the walker we have has 3 levels of standing... when she was first using it she was on the losest setting and now she is on the middle one... so if her legs get tired she just squat a little to rest... its not bad at all its actually great from what her Doctor said. she is above the learning curve... my daughter will not crawl she doesnt like to be on her stomach at all so this was the next think I could think of.”
User Liza has a baby son who apparently has trouble figuring out how to use a baby walker, which is a relatively common issue, and parents shouldn’t worry too much about it. “Yes my son is 6 months and i have a baby walker for him, however he cant seem to figure out that hes supposed to walk in it he can figure out that he can go backwards but not foward. Its not dangerous at all as long as you take the precautions of using the gates for stairs in your home, that is if you have any. It will actuallu help then walk earlier then they should,” writes Liza.
Finally, user Misty provides a few reassuring words to parents who are concerned about the commonly discussed developmental issues associated with baby walkers (more on the topic in a later chapter of this article) "I do not believe there is any developmental issue to worry about here. My son uses a walker, and 2 types of "jumpers" and has been for some time (he is 6 mo 2 wks) I mean ya his legs are getting beefy, but the doctor loves it ! The only thing that might happen is the child might skipp over crawling and go right to walking! I've known kids to do that. . .So it all depends on your child and what the best decision for you guys as a family is, and if your ever worried about developmental issues caused by anything remember to just call your doctors office and talk with the nurse for medical advice before making decisions.”
As you can see, parents who use a baby walker only when it’s the right time and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions seldom have any problems. If you do the same, we guarantee that your experience with your baby walker will be just as positive.
How to Teach Baby to Walk in Walker?
Baby walkers are not essential when it comes to teaching babies how to walk. Fortunately for parents, babies learn how to walk on their own, and it takes them just a few months to realize all the different mischievous things walking allows them to do.
But no child has ever learned how to walk without falling down at least a couple hundred times, which is fine when learning how to walk on a soft surface such as grass but can be very dangerous inside just about any modern house or apartment, even one that’s child-proof.
A baby walker provides a safe way how to get used to walking for your baby, and most baby walkers also come with a multitude of educational toys that can keep your baby busy even when not walking. But before you can start teaching your baby how to walk in a baby walker, there are some things that you need to consider first.
Is your baby ready for a walker?
“At the minimum, a baby must be able to hold his head up steadily and have his feet touch the floor to use a walker. Walkers are designed for use by infants between the ages of 4 and 16 months, according to Consumer Reports,” writes Livestrong. Keep in mind that these are just general guidelines that don’t apply to all babies. Some babies are ready for a walker when they are just 3 months old, while many other babies are not ready even when they are 5 or 6 months old.
Does your baby seem interested in a walker?
Contrary to popular belief, not all babies are immediately interested in baby walkers, and some babies never are. If you’ve purchased an expensive baby walker only to find out that your baby doesn’t want to use it, we have bad news for you: there’s nothing you can do about it. Babies are babies, and their interest is highly unpredictable.
While some babies will cry and beg for the opportunity to use a walker just a little longer, other babies don’t care for walkers at all. If your baby is one of those babies who prefer to walk without a walker, respect that preference and don’t force your baby to do something he or she isn’t interested in doing.
Is your home walker-proof?
You can never overestimate the safety of your home when you live with a small child. Just like most parents, you’ve probably baby-proofed your home a long time before your baby was born, right? But you may not realize that baby walkers require additional safety measures because they are designed to easily roll on flat surfaces.
Make sure that your floors are smooth with no loose rugs that can catch on the wheels. If you can, create a wide open area in one room so that the baby walker doesn't get stuck. If you have the luxury of choosing between multiple rooms, choose one that’s on the ground floor. If you can’t be on the ground floor, block all stairs with a door or sturdy baby gate to prevent the baby from accidentally going down them in the walker.
Baby gates are also a wonderful way how to prevent your baby from entering other rooms. Finally, remove or cover any sharp edges that are at the head-level and check the area for anything dangerous or fragile that will be within the baby’s reach.
Can you be there with your baby?
Just about every manufacturer of baby walkers strictly prohibits the use of a baby walker without parental supervision. Whenever you let your baby use a walker, be there for him or her and prevent your baby from getting stuck or injured. Because of the added mobility provided by the walker, you never know where your baby might end up.
If you can say “yes” to all the question above, you are ready to start teaching your baby how to use a walker. As we already explained, most babies look forward to using a baby walker, but some might be a little resistant. Your baby might just be having a bad day if he or she refuses to use the walker, or there might be something more interesting your baby is interested in. Just give it a day or two and try later.
The chances are that everything will go smoothly the next time. “If they are really adamant about not going in the baby walker, the parent can sit on the floor near the baby walker and hold the baby on their lap so that they can see and touch it. If there are toys on the baby walker, the parent can use an excited voice while playing with the toys in order to get the baby interested,” advises wikiHow.
Your next goal is to make your baby comfortable when using the walker. This means finding the right seat height, the right walker height, and sometimes even the right amount of seat padding. When sitting your baby inside the walker, make sure that each of your baby’s legs goes into a separate leg hole and ensure that your baby’s toes don’t get caught anywhere. If the walker has a restraining belt—and most walkers do—fasten it to prevent your baby from sliding out of the perfect position.
Because most baby walkers have a fairly comfortable seat, babies are sometimes reluctant to stand up, not realizing that they can do so without falling down. To encourage your baby to stand up and walk, grab him or her by the waist and stand him or her up. Repeat this until your baby understands that it’s no longer possible to fall in a dangerous manner.
Don’t assume that your baby will walk the very first day you start using the walker. You may need to spend a couple of days with a gentle introduction and slowly transition to walking over the course of a week or two.
When it comes to the actual walking, be prepared that your baby will wander aimlessly from one place to the next and be upset every time he or she gets stuck. You may consider holding a toy in front of the baby in the walker to encourage movement and direct your baby away from furniture and obstacles.
Once you see that your baby is getting frustrated, it’s probably the right time to call it quits because frustration usually indicates tiredness. As we explore in the next chapter, baby walkers can have negative consequences when not used correctly or when used excessively. Limit the use of the walker to no more than 15 minutes a day.
For young babies, walking is a fantastic strength exercise, but it needs to be complimented with an exercise that strengthens the muscles in the upper body. For example, crawling is a great way how to develop both arm and leg strength, and promote co-ordination.
Are Baby Walkers Safe to Use?
To determine how safe to use baby walkers are, let’s explore what scientists and researchers have to say about the subject.
“Thirty-four infant walker-related deaths were reported from 1973 through 1998. The vast majority of injuries occur from falls down stairs, and head injuries are common,” stated the Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention. Reports like this are not to be taken lightly. Clearly, baby walkers can lead to serious injuries and, in extreme cases, even death. But before you abandon the idea of buying a baby walker for your baby, keep in mind that those thirty-four infant walker-related deaths happened in the last millennium.
According to the Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention, “To comply with the revised voluntary standard (ASTM F977-96), walkers manufactured after June 30, 1997, must be wider than a 36-in doorway or must have a braking mechanism designed to stop the walker if 1 or more wheels drop off the riding surface, such as at the top of a stairway.”
In other words, older baby walkers (the type that so many older parents think of when they speak against the use of baby walkers) were manufactured according to grossly outdated standards and thus were unsafe. Modern walkers prevent falls down stairs, are much more comfortable, are easily adjustable, and are made from non-toxic materials.
“Baby walkers have been associated with burns, head trauma, and other types of injury. A retrospective study of all infants under the age of two years attending an accident and emergency unit demonstrated 22 injuries associated with baby walkers from a total of 1049 attendances. The most serious injuries were three skull fractures, with the most common mechanism being of a fall downstairs in the walker. Injury while in a baby walker occurred with a similar frequency to injury due to road traffic accidents,” claims an article published in Emergency Medicine Journal.
Finally, consider this snippet from an article published in Pediatric Physical Therapy: A retrospective study was conducted in three Canadian provinces to determine how walkers were obtained, their use, and frequency of injuries. A structured telephone questionnaire was used to elicit retrospective and current data. Volunteer respondents were 73 caregivers to 111 children.
The period of use ranged from five to ten months of age. A 14.4% injury rate was reported. These injuries commonly were bruises. The typical cause of injury was a fall down stairs. Only two children received medical attention with neither requiring treatment. Older model walkers having five or fewer wheels were associated with a higher reported injury rate (p < 0.01). Baby walkers were obtained from family or friends (49%), or purchased secondhand.
Physical therapists can assist in prevention of injury through disseminating information on the dangers of this equipment. Greater public education is needed on the hazards of using baby walkers, especially older models.
As you can see, most injuries related to the use of baby walkers are easily preventable. Pediatricians and researchers alike often discourage parents from the use of baby walkers because they assume that most parents wouldn’t adhere to safety guidelines and manufacturer’s instructions.
Only you can decide whether you’re responsible enough to keep your baby from harm’s way when using a baby walker. If you believe that you are, here are some basic baby walker safety tips to keep in mind, according to leading baby walker manufacturers:
- Never leave the child unattended. Always keep him under supervision while he is in the baby walker.
- Do not use the baby walker for children, who cannot sit unaided.
- Discontinue the use of the baby walker when the child can walk on his own.
- In order to avoid any risk of sliding out of the seat, make sure that the child's feet can touch the floor.
- You should use this baby walker only for short periods of time. The generally recommended duration is 20 minutes.
- Do not use the baby walker for children who can walk by themselves without any help from an adult.
- The assembly of the baby walker and the accessories should be done only by an adult.
- Before using your baby walker make sure that you have followed the assembly instructions.
- Do not use your baby walker before making sure that all the parts are in good working order and are fixed in the correct position.
- In order to prevent strangulation, do not place items with strings around your child’s neck such as hood strings or pacifier cords.
- Use the baby walker only at home on flat surfaces without slope or objects that can tip it over.
- Prevent access to stairs, steps, and uneven surfaces.
- Prevent collisions with glass in doors, windows, and furniture.
- Do not use replacement parts other than those approved by the manufacturer or distributor as this may make the walker unsafe and will invalidate the warranty.
- Always take care to insert your batteries correctly, observing the plus and minus marks on the battery and appliance.
- Do not mix new and used batteries.
- Do not mix different types of batteries.
- Always remove dead batteries and all batteries if you are not going to use the product for long periods (as batteries may leak and cause damage).
- Exhausted batteries should be removed from the product and disposed of in accordance with the makers recommendations.
- To prolong the life of your nursery product keep it clean and do not leave it in direct sunlight for extended periods of time.
- Removable fabric covers and trims may be cleaned using warm water with a household soap or a mild detergent. Allow it to dry fully, preferably away from direct sunlight.
- Do not dry clean, or use bleach.
- Always check parts regularly for tightness of screws, nuts, and other fasteners.
- If the wheels squeak, use a silicon-based spray ensuring it penetrates the wheel and axle assembly.
Are Walkers Good for Babies?
Contrary to popular belief, baby walkers don’t help babies learn how to walk any sooner. In fact, some pediatricians and researchers argue that baby walkers can hinder the natural learning process that every baby must go through to learn how to walk.
In the previous section, we have cited numerous scientific publications that describe in depth the plethora risks associated with the use of baby walkers. Naturally, parents often wonder whether baby walkers are good for babies at all.
To answer this question, we need to separate proper usage of baby walkers from improper usage. If you adhere to general baby walker safety guidelines and always keep an eye on your baby when using a baby walker, there’s virtually no chance for a physical injury to occur.
When it comes to the potential developmental issues, it’s important to realize the role baby walkers are supposed to play. Baby walkers have never been intended as a way how to help children learn how to walk. Since the middle ages, baby walkers have been used to give children an additional physical activity and make it easier for parents to do chores around the house or enjoy a few minutes of rest from holding the baby.
As such, the time your baby spends in his or her walker should be limited to 20 minutes a day. While that doesn’t sound like much, it’s plenty for your baby to strengthen his or her tiny muscles and spend so much energy that sleep won’t be a problem. As you watch how your baby walks with the support of the baby walker, you can give your arms a rest and recharge for a while.
Why Are Baby Walkers Banned in Canada?
In 2014, Canada became the first country in the world to ban the sale, importation, and advertisement of baby walkers.
According to the official announcement of the government of Canada, Walkers do not help babies learn to walk and can actually lead to delays in child development. Placing a baby in a walker results in a significant risk of an injury. Thirty to 40 percent of infants who use walkers will have an injury. Falling down a flight of stairs in a walker is the chief problem. In fact, children in walkers face a greater risk for injury due to a fall downstairs compared to other children.
Children have suffered serious head injuries and death as a result of baby walkers. Other injuries include fractures, drownings, and poisonings. The mobility provided by the walker may give infants access to toxic household chemicals. In Canada, there were thousands of walker-related injuries per year in the 1980s.”
Anyone who disobeys the law and sells baby walkers can face fines of up to $100,000 for ignoring the ban. "Canadians must know about the dangers posed to infants through the use of baby walkers," Health Minister Pierre Pettigrew said in a news release. "It is the safety of our children that is of the most vital importance."
Canada isn’t the only country to take a stance against baby walkers. Many other countries, including the United States, have issued warnings about the dangers associated with the use of baby walkers. "Parents should know that walker use typically delays motor development – and that it delays mental development even more. Beyond this, walker use is dangerous," wrote pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene in The New York Times.
According to Mayo Clinic, “Babies who use baby walkers might trip and fall over, roll down stairs, get into dangerous places that would otherwise be difficult to reach. Research also suggests that use of baby walkers doesn't help the process of learning to walk. Instead, baby walkers eliminate the desire to walk.”
By banning baby walkers, the government of Canada hopes to reduce the number of injuries due to falling while using a baby walker and thus reduce the country’s spending on healthcare. The ban extends to modified and second-hand baby walkers because, in a study done in Winnipeg, 70 percent of the walkers that resulted in injuries were hand-me-downs or purchased second hand.
The last information is especially important because it explains why researchers find so many cases of baby walker-related injuries even though parents generally consider baby walkers to be safe and useful.
Baby walkers have evolved dramatically since the 70s and the 80s. Decades ago, baby walkers used to be so narrow that they could fit through door frames, allowing babies to go from room to room. They also used to be made from toxic materials and provided very limited comfort.
“To comply with the revised voluntary standard (ASTM F977-96), walkers manufactured after June 30, 1997, must be wider than a 36-in doorway or must have a braking mechanism designed to stop the walker if 1 or more wheels drop off the riding surface, such as at the top of a stairway,” according to the Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention.
While the American standard ASTM F977-12 change baby walkers in the United States, Consumer Protection Notice No.1 of 2013 set out the mandatory requirements for baby walkers in Australia.
“This Legislative Instrument provides an updated safety standard for baby walkers – also known as infant walkers. Baby walkers are regulated because of their association with injuries, commonly through providing access to hazards around the home, including stairs, stovetops and heaters. Compliance with industry standards is intended to reduce injury in the context of appropriate supervision and reasonable use. Baby walkers are subject to a safety standard, which refers to portions of the standard published by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) in 2000. An American standard is used because there is no Australian standard for baby walkers. The ASTM standard has been updated several times since 2002. Misalignment between the industry standard and the mandatory product safety standard can cause confusion in the marketplace and lead to the supply of unsafe products,” states the explanatory statement issued by the government of Australia.
Thanks to these and other mandatory requirements and safety standards, modern baby walkers are far safer than baby walkers sold just two decades ago. If you care about your child’s safety—and we know that you do—you should always purchase modern baby walker instead of buying a used one or using one that was handed down to you from a friend or relative. Yes, it will cost you, but your money will be well spent. What’s more, modern baby walkers are more practical, come with a wide range of interesting toys and accessories, and can be easily folded for storage.
Should I Choose a Baby Jumper Instead?
Baby jumpers are another extremely popular category of developmental products for babies, and we have personally reviewed countless baby jumpers. When choosing a baby walker, many parents wonder whether they shouldn’t purchase a baby jumper instead. To answer this question, we need to examine in more detail what a baby jumper actually is a what it’s supposed to do.
The baby jumper as we know it today was invented by Jolly in 1910, using an ax handle for the spreader. Soon, more elaborate baby jumpers appeared on the market, with a base made of hard plastic sitting in a frame and a suspended fabric seat with two leg holes. Modern baby jumpers often include a tray holding various toys, and they are designed with safety in mind.
The main purpose of baby jumpers is to keep babies happy, active, and engaged. In this regard, they differ from baby walkers, which are intended to help babies learn how to walk. Yes, baby walkers also provide babies with entertainment and educational activities, but the focus is on their developmental function.
So, if you’re not interested in the developmental side of baby walkers and just want to give your baby a fun activity, you should buy a baby jumper, right? Well, sort of. Some babies absolutely love using baby walkers, preferring walking even to jumping. Other babies are not too fond of baby walkers and prefer walking without any support.
Which leaves us with one simple solution: get both. Baby jumpers tend to be less expensive than baby walkers, and you might even stumble upon a discounted bundle on Amazon. A baby who has both a baby jumper and baby walker is never bored and always looking forward to enjoying some healthy exercise.
Who Invented the Baby Walker?
The first baby walkers were used in the 15th century Europe, and one such baby walker can be seen depicted in about 1440 by the anonymous Dutch artist known as the Master of Catherine of Cleves in one of his or her lavishly illuminated manuscripts, called the Hours of Catherine of Cleves.
According to Act for Libraries, “The history of baby walkers stretches back more than 130 years, beginning with the use of specific technologies to help parents to control babies for safety. In recent years, this device has come under intense scrutiny by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the United States and in Canada the federal government has banned the sale or use of baby walkers.”
The first patent for a baby walker device in the United States appeared in 1874 and was by Henry W. Eastman. Back in the day, the prevailing form of baby control was swaddling and slinging. Europeans in the 17th century were fond of long strips of cloth, which they would sew into the shoulders of toddler clothing and use as a leash. When needed, children could be tied to immobile objects, allowing parents to complete chores around the house.
Until the 20th century, the proponents of baby walkers claimed that baby walkers assist with the development of leg muscles and walking. The attitudes toward baby walkers started to shift as more and more researchers and health organizations published articles in which they warned against the use of baby walkers.
For example, a 1999 study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, “Effects of baby walkers on motor and mental development in human infants” found that infants using walkers did not sit, crawl, or walk sooner than infants not using walkers.
“Once hailed as a necessary device to promote walking muscles, baby walkers are now banned in some states and countries such as Canada. Canadian law forbids the sale, possession, or distribution of these devices, with fines reaching as high as $100,000, according to Health Canada, the federal agency responsible for health and human services issues in the country. In the U.S., the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported more than 25,000 injuries related to baby walkers in 1992. That number dropped dramatically to 2,600 in 2005 after the CPSC made safety-design recommendations for baby walkers to prevent falls down stairs, excessive speed, and mobility through doorways,” states Act for Libraries.
Despite the changing attitudes, baby walkers remain one of the most popular categories of baby products, helping parents around the world and bringing endless joy to babies who are just learning how to walk.