The first steps of your baby are an important milestone for any parent. You want to make sure they do so in a safe environment. Baby walkers are mostly seen as the safest space for a baby’s first step.
Used as early as the 15th century, baby walkers are not a new concept. They have been around a while now. The current models have evolved a lot from their first counterparts. If you are a new mom and you are thinking of getting your baby a walker, it might be confusing if you don’t have enough information to go on.
In this guide, I will be telling you what to look for in the best baby walker for your child. If you are not sure whether you will be getting your little one a walker or not yet, I will be telling you all you need to know to make the decision.
Why should you get your baby a walker?
Although there are always concerns as far as putting your baby in a walker is concerned, there are some benefits to getting your baby a walker. Here are some of them.
Safe places to place the baby as you do your house chores
Any mother will tell you, the moment you welcome your little one, your peaceful days are technically over. It’s hard to let your baby out of your sight for any length of time without worrying about them.
Getting a walker gives you a safe place to place your little one when you do light chores around the house, while still being able to keep your eye on them. Remember, however, not to leave your baby in the walker for a long period. Also, don’t leave your baby in a walker in a different room.
Stimulates mental development in babies
Most baby walkers come with an assortment of toys attached to them. When you place your little one in a walker, playing with these toys arouses curiosity in your little one, and this contributes to their early mental development.
Give the baby autonomy
When your baby starts supporting themselves with furniture around the house, any parent will agree that one is always anxious and worried about them falling and injuring themselves. For this reason, most parents feel the need to hover around to ensure their babies do not fall.
When you have the best walker for the baby, you can relax and watch them learn to take their first steps in a safe space without being anxious.
Now that we have established why you should get your baby a walker let us look at things you ought to consider when looking for one.
Considerations for getting the best baby walker
Baby products are sensitive. When you go shopping for these things, it’s easy to buy something you will end up putting in your garage after using it a couple of times when you realize it’s not suitable for your baby.
This is why knowing what to look for beforehand is important. If you are looking for the best one for your little bundle of joy, here are some of the most important factors to have in mind.
Above all things, safety comes first when you are looking for any baby product. With a walker, especially, safety plays a major role in deciding which one to buy. Some walker designs, mostly the traditional ones pose serious risk for your baby.
For this reason, these walkers have been banned in some countries like Canada and more countries continue to push for their ban. Older baby walker models do not have many safety features, and they require a lot of supervision when the baby is using them.
This is not to discourage you from getting one for your baby, but you should ensure you get one with modern safety features.
While traditional walkers elevated babies so that they can reach higher surfaces, modern walkers are a bit lower and this keeps the baby from reaching higher surfaces like kitchen counters, where they risk getting burned.
Modern walker designs also feature additional safety features like non-slip wheels, which prevent the walker from slipping on sloping surfaces. A wider tray is also another safety feature that protects the baby from reaching for things that might be risky or squeezing their tiny hands against the wall.
Walkers have evolved a lot to include more safety features over the years, but keep in mind not to take your eyes off your baby for long while they are in a walker. You should also ensure that the room is safe before letting your little one lose in a walker. You can do this by baby proofing the house.
When choosing a walker for your little bundle of joy, keep in mind that they will be spending quite some time in it. That’s why you need to make sure you get the most comfortable one in the market that does not strain your child in any way.
Most top baby walkers nowadays have a comfortable padded seat for your baby to sit-in. Make sure to get a well-padded one with non-irritating fabric.
Is it adjustable?
If you want to get a walker that your baby will be using for a few months, you want to make sure you get one with an adjustable seat. This way you can adjust the seat as your baby grows and keep it comfortable for them.
Most modern walkers are adjustable, but you should check that one is before buying just to be sure.
All baby walkers will have an indicated age range. You should check that your baby falls within the indicated age range. Most of them will have an indicated weight limit as well. Check that it can support your little one’s weight.
Ease of cleaning
When it comes to most baby items, you just know there is a lot of cleaning involved. Some people have no problem hand washing, but you have to admit there is a convenience in something you can just machine wash. If you are one of the people who enjoy this convenience, then you will be glad to know that there are walkers with machine-washable seats on the market. This makes your work a lot easier.
The best baby walkers come with an assortment of toys attached to them. This helps stimulate your baby’s mental growth and cultivate interest by making them want to be in the walker.
When you are buying a baby walker, make sure you get one with fun toys and puzzles. Make sure that they are not too complex for your baby as this may result in lost interest. There should be a balance.
Having said this, make sure that the additional parts are well attached to the walker. If your baby can take them apart, that presents a choking hazard.
Material and construction
If your baby is going to be safe in a walker, you have to make sure you get one with pretty sturdy construction. Most walkers are made of strong plastics on wheels. Don’t buy a walker with a flimsy design. Make sure that the wheels are sturdy enough and that they are non-slip as well.
One of the main reasons that one buys a walker is so that your baby gets used to walking around on their own. If you buy them a walker that is hard to get around in, then this defeats the point of getting one in the first place.
If you gave a carpet in your home, for instance, get a walker that can move just fine on the carpet. See that the walker can easily turn corners as well. This way, your baby is encouraged to walk around.
A baby walker should be easy for the caregiver to use too. How easy is it to put the baby in and out of the walker? Keep this in mind when you buy one.
Ideally, you should get your little one a walker. This walker should accommodate their growth until they learn to walk. This will, however, depend on how adjustable the walker is. If you are getting your little one a walker early on, you will need a wide range of adjustability if they are to use it until they start walking.
Make sure it’s easy to adjust too. Some walkers will need you to take them apart and put them back together again when you need to adjust the height, this tedious and unnecessary.
How easy is it to assemble?
Most walkers will come in parts, and you need to put them together. This is why an easy to assemble model comes in handy.
We can agree you cannot put a price on your baby’s comfort or safety. In an ideal world, the price would not be an issue as you could spend as much needed. This is not the case, however, and most of the time, you shop on a budget. In this case, ensure you get the most suitable baby walker that suits your little one’s needs and also falls within your budget range.
Why are pediatricians against walkers?
While most parents view baby walkers as one of the best toys for 9-month-old babies and younger, pediatricians are not huge fans. In countries like Canada, walkers have been banned, and other pediatric associations like the American pediatric association are pushing for their ban as well. If you are wondering why, here is their reasoning.
Well, for all the benefits there are for putting your little one in a walker, there are disadvantages associated with the walkers as well.
For one, most parents forget that they need to keep an eye on their child at all times when they are in the walker even when they are doing house chores. It only takes a few seconds for your baby to wheel themselves down the stairs or into a pool of water. This is dangerous.
Some walkers are not wide enough either, and kids end up pinching their tiny fingers against the wall or hard surfaces.
Some parents also fail to baby proof the house because they assume that their kids will be safe in walkers. This is not the case.
When a baby is suspended in a walker, they can reach higher surfaces than they normally would, adding to more dangers around the house.
Walkers also impede kids’ development, and this is the major reason pediatricians do not recommend them for babies. Studies have indicated that babies using walkers walk up to 2 months later than their counterparts. This is because babies suspended in sit-in walkers do not get to use their legs a lot. This, as a result, delays other baby milestones for babies.
Other options you can use in place of baby walkers
If you don’t want to use a baby walker for your little one, what other safer options do you have for keeping your baby safe as you go about your chores in the house? Here they are:
A baby fence
A baby fence is a barrier which you place in a designated area in which you will be putting the baby when you need to do some chores around the house.
While it’s not the most fool-proof option you can get on the market, a baby fence allows your kid a lot more room to move around and play. You can place their favorite toys in there and go about your chores while they play without worrying about them getting exposed to dangers.
You have to be careful though, because as your baby becomes older and more mobile, they can climb the fence and hurt themselves as they try to get out.
Different from the baby walker, a fence takes up more space in the house, and if you don’t have a house big enough; this may not be an option for you.
Stationary baby station
What makes baby walkers dangerous for babies is the moving aspect because babies can move to the more dangerous parts of the house like the fireplace. A stationary baby station on the other is immobile, and there is no risk for your baby to roll themselves down the stairs or into a pool of water.
In these stations, your little one can stand or sit when they are tired. This allows them to use their leg muscles, strengthening them in the process. You will also know where your baby is at all times, and it’s a lot easier to keep an eye on them as you go about your chores.
Baby proofing your home
Baby proofing your home means getting rid of all the baby hazards. This way, you can relax knowing that your little one is in a safe space. While this is an option, most parents find it tedious to do, and honestly, it’s hard to make everything in your home baby-friendly.
Frequently asked questions
Are baby walkers safe for babies?
According to a study conducted in the US between 1990 and 2014, 230,000 children younger than 15 months were treated for baby walker related injuries in hospitals in the country.
Most of these injuries involved falling down the stairs as a result of the walker going astray and rolling down the stairs. There were injuries where babies got their hands squeezed between hard surfaces like the wall and the walker.
These injuries according to the study resulted in broken bones and even the neck in extreme cases. This is scary to imagine for any parent.
While walkers have come a long way since, in terms of safety features, they still present a great deal of danger to kids especially if the parent is not very careful.
While walkers give you some space to perform some tasks when you place the baby in them, you should make sure that the baby is always in your sight, and you can monitor them. When you have a walker, make sure that all the stairs that your little one can access when rolling around in a walker are secured. You can do so by getting a baby gate for the stairs.
When outdoors, keep baby walkers away from swimming pools as well. Rolling into a swimming pool can lead to drowning.
Do baby walkers help babies walk?
Most people believe that baby walkers help babies learn how to walk faster. This cannot be further from the truth. Studies indicate that baby walkers do not help babies learn how to walk faster. Whether you get your baby a walker or not, they will learn to walk eventually. Walkers do the opposite. They delay walking for infants by up to 2 months.
It has also been established that using a walker for your little one can also delay other milestones for them.
This is because walkers especially the sit-in ones most of the time suspend the baby, and their feet are in contact with the ground most of the time. When they are, the baby is on tiptoes. This does not allow the baby to use much of their leg muscles, and therefore, they take longer to develop.
Babies naturally learn to walk by holding and supporting themselves on things around them, and this is how the baby’s leg muscles develop.
Push walkers vs sit-in walkers; which is the best option for my baby?
When deciding between these two the age and development stage for your little one matters a lot. Sit in walkers are best suited for younger babies who are yet to start standing on their own. When your baby starts standing and walking while holding things, a push walker is most beneficial to them.
Another thing to weigh when deciding the type of walker to buy between these two is the functionality. A sit-in walker does not help the baby learn how to walk while the push walker helps the baby learn how to walk.
At what age can I get my baby a walker?
There is no standard age for when you can put your little one in a walker. The basic rule is that they should be able to hold their head up steadily without support. This age is different for some babies. Some are ready at 4 months, and others will take as long as 6 months before they can hold their head up on their own. If you are not sure, consult your pediatrician.
Precautions for using a baby walker
As I have already mentioned, there are some serious risks involved when you put your little one in a baby walker. You have to take certain precautions to ensure your baby stays safe. Here are some precautions you can take.
Always ensure that stairs in your home that your baby can access when they are in a walker are secure. You can install baby gates at all the stairs.
Don’t accept old baby walkers as gift-old baby walkers are more likely to slip and roll a lot further when the baby gives them a little nudge. This is because the wheels tend to wear out with time, and as a result, there is no traction. This can be dangerous for your little one.
Always keep an eye on your baby when they are in a walker. Apart from rolling over to the hazard areas, walkers can also tip over, and this can injure your baby.
Ensure that your baby is within the recommended weight limit for the walker. This is especially important when it comes to push-baby walkers. If your baby has outgrown it, they can easily topple the walker and injure themselves.
Baby walkers give you the much-needed room to do some other things while your baby stays engaged and entertained. They come with some level of risk but then babies are delicate, and as a parent, you can only do your best to keep your little one safe.
When you decide to buy one for them, make sure you get one that best suits their needs. If you are looking for a walker that helps your baby learn to walk, however, get them the best baby push, walker.