Baby Walkers: Types, Safety Tips, and Alternatives
Are you ready to hear the “pitter-patter” sound emanating from those little feet? Seeing your baby walk is one of the most anticipated events every parent looks out for. Like most parents, you’re most happy when your baby shows signs of growth like beginning to walk. You’re probably thinking of ways you can encourage and support them. You’ve asked some of the mothers in your neighborhood how they helped their babies walk, you’ve been told to get a baby walker because according to them it is a device that has been built to help babies walk.
Find yourself in that situation? Are you a new mother who’s still trying to figure things out? If yes, then this piece has been designed for you.
While baby walkers have over time become one of the must-have devices for babies, there are a couple of things you do not know about them and how they impact the life of your baby. In this piece, we’ll take a closer look at these baby walkers, their various types, as well as their impact on the growth of your baby.
What Are Baby Walkers?
Basically, baby walkers are devices that have been designed specifically for infants or babies that are not yet able to walk on their own. In most cases, these baby walkers have been used for toddlers as well. They are mostly made with plastic and a leather seat with straps. Contrary to public opinion, baby walkers are mainly for helping babies move around the house until they are able to walk by themselves, they do not in any way help your kid learn how to walk.
Over the years, baby walkers have been called different names by different people. Oftentimes, it has been referred to as: baby strolls, go-cart, strolls, etc.
Most of the modern baby walkers for sale right now come with various toys babies can play with while inside. One of the core benefits of these baby walkers is that they are capable of keeping your baby distracted, thus, offering you time to handle other tasks. While there are safety tips you’d need to adhere to while your baby makes use of a walker, it is capable of offering you time to get other things sorted out.
Types of Baby Walkers
As the demand for these walkers grew over the years, walkers have been designed for every baby regardless of age and size. While most of these walkers tend to offer more benefits than others, some, on the other hand, happen to be more dangerous.
1. Seated Walkers
These walkers have been designed primarily for babies that are capable of standing on their own. These babies must be between15 to 20 pounds. Like most of the other walker types, seated walkers are made of plastic or steel accompanied by fabric. The legs are cut in such a way that the legs of your baby touch the ground.
While it is argued that this walker type helps babies learn how to walk, it is of utmost importance that you do not subject your baby to extensive use. It should be used occasionally, that is if you must make use of it. To keep your baby distracted, they have been built with toys and games they can indulge in while moving around on it. According to most seated walker manufacturers, these games and toys attached are capable of building cognitive skills in infants. Bear in mind that this has not been verified and could be false.
Most of these seated walkers are built differently for boys and girls. If you plan on getting one, the size of your baby, age, and gender should be taken into consideration.
2. Sit-to-stand Walker
Unlike the other baby walkers, this walker type helps your child learn and master balance and walking skills that would be useful when he/she eventually starts walking. Although made from plastic material like the others, this walker type has toys and even a bar your child can hold on to while moving around. This walker is pushed like a cart and affords your baby the opportunity to stop and play with the toys anytime he/she sees fit.
A few of the sit-to-stand walkers available for sale right now come with detachable toys your kid can play with on the floor. Designed to help build cognitive skills in your child, most of the sit-to-stand walkers are built in various shapes and designs to help your child learn colors and shapes. Also, the materials used in the design of these walkers are tough plastic materials that are super durable.
3. Convertible Walkers
As the name suggests, convertible walkers are seated walkers that can be flipped or converted to sit-to-stand walkers as your child grows. Most of the convertible walkers have a toy station that includes some of the best games and music your child can play and listen to. Depending on the one you opt for, most of the games are detachable, ensuring that your kid can play with them on the floor.
Unlike the other walkers, convertible walkers save parents money. With a convertible walker, you do not have to worry about getting a new set or unit for your child when he/she starts walking – you simply need to convert it into a sit-to-stand walker and you’re good to go. Aside from offering a toy station for your child, there’s a bar attached to it. Also, it is incredibly durable and capable of accommodating your child irrespective of age, gender, and size.
4. Push Walkers
As the name implies, push walkers are basically walkers that your child needs to push. They come in different shapes, colors, and designs. To prevent your child from tipping over, push walkers have been built to have so much weight. One of the core benefits of this walker type is that it encourages kids to use their body to safely carry their weight.
One unique feature and probably selling point of this walker is its ability to mimic how a child would walk on their own as it allows them to stand and push around the house.
Pros and Cons of Baby Walkers
Like every other device that has been designed to help kids, there are a couple of benefits and disadvantages associated with the use of baby walkers.
As mentioned earlier, most of the walkers for babies have been designed to offer balance and support to babies. For babies that may have problems standing and maintaining balance, these walkers, especially the sit-to-stand walker, have been built to help them stand and move around confidently. For efficient and safe use, your child should be between the ideal baby walker age which is somewhere between 7 to 18 months.
Almost every baby walker for sale right now has a toy station which most of the time includes a music box, whistles, toys, bells, as well as other important accessories that will help build rare cognitive skills in your child.
These toys and accessories have been attached to stimulate the brain of your child, ensuring that they are able to learn and master certain aspects. In addition to stimulating and building rare cognitive skills in kids, it also encourages them to walk.
Encourages babies to walk
Some infants tend to take more time to walk on their own and some of the time need help to get started. This is the main function of a baby walker, it encourages babies to walk by showing them how fun it is to move around on their own without help from their parents. To keep your baby safe while using a walker, it is advised that you only let them use it on a flat surface.
Gives you time to handle other activities
Ordinarily, most new mothers find it difficult to accomplish tasks when their babies are awake. Baby walkers have over the years been helpful in keeping babies distracted while parents handle other tasks. If you find it difficult to carry out various tasks when your baby is awake, then you should consider getting a walker for them. The toy station and the new found ability to move around the house will keep them distracted for a long time.
While you’re happy your child is distracted and that you are able to carry out tasks, it is important that you do not leave them unattended. Endeavor to keep an eye on them even as you go about carrying out tasks.
Does not stimulate the ability to walk
Contrary to whatever you’ve heard of baby walkers and how they have impacted the lives of babies over the years, it is important that you have it at the back of your mind that these walkers do not in any way stimulate in your baby the ability to walk, here’s why.
When your baby begins to make use of a baby walker, they receive only artificial assistance, therefore, meaning that any movement or skill they learn while making use of the walker does not actually compare to real walking skills. This basically means that using a walker does not challenge your child enough to learn and master how to move around the house on their own. Walkers mainly teach your baby to maintain balance and according to various experts, it is capable of causing distortion in kids.
Walkers can cause a delay in mental and motor development
The transition from crawling oftentimes occurs when most parents are already thinking of how to implement walkers in the life of their kids. Although the movement of your baby may be a little clumsy, they happen to be an important part of their growth process. Placing your child in a walker distorts that growth process.
It is advised that you allow your child to pass through all the stages of development naturally without any form of artificial assistance.
While you’re probably wondering how baby walkers cause delays in mental and motor development, one recent study conducted suggests that walkers delay mental development because the babies cannot see their legs. This inability to see various leg movements makes it impossible for the baby to recreate those moves.
Leads to countless injuries
Although these devices have been built to offer your baby the opportunity to move around the house before they are able to walk, there are countless injuries that can be sustained in the process of using these walkers. Your baby depending on the age may tip over, reach over things on the way, or fall down from the stairs. According to a study conducted from 1990 to 2004, over 230,000 injuries have been sustained from using walkers. The report further revealed that even with the adherence to safety tips, over 2,100 cases of walker falls are recorded annually.
A few of the most common forms of injuries that have been reported annually include:
- Poison and burns from accessories and places that babies shouldn’t go to
- Drowning from falling into a pool or toilet
- Bruises and head bumps from pulling items that are over the counter
- Pinched toes and fingers
- In rare occasions, suffocation occurs
It hinders muscle development in babies
While it is exciting to see your baby move around the house with a walker, It is important that you let nature take its course. Forcing your child to move around with walkers may hinder the proper development of the muscles. These baby walkers make it difficult for your child to learn and master all the skills needed to enable him/her to walk. The time spent moving around in those walkers is precious time that should have been used to try to sit up, crawl around, and also begin to take first steps.
Baby Walker Safety Tips
If you want to get a walker for your child, there are a couple of safety tips you should know and actually adhere to if you want to keep them safe. There are key safety provisions that baby walker manufacturers adhere to when making these walkers. These provisions include;
- Tipping Resistance – this provision has been designed to ensure that babies do not tip over the walker while making use of it. This resistance is essential in sit-to-stand walkers. Tests are conducted to ensure that the occupant does not tip over when they lean.
- Prevention of falls on stairs – this is to ensure that babies do not fall over the stairs while moving around with these walkers.
- Load testing – this is usually done to ensure the baby is firmly seated throughout the moving process and does not in any way fall over. Also to prevent entrapment, the walker should offer ample space for kids to place their legs conveniently.
While we have mentioned some of the provisions laid out for walker manufacturers, there are a couple of these safety tips that you need to adhere to. They include;
Gate your stairs
Babies are generally notorious and have this undying need to explore parts of the home even when you’ve warned them not to through gestures. In the case that you have ungated stairs, it could be a recipe for disaster if you are not proactive. Although most of the safety provisions these walker manufacturers adhere to reduces the chances of this happening, it is important that you take action right now.
The gate does not necessarily have to be huge, a wooden gate will suffice.
Monitor their movements
Generally, babies in walkers would definitely go places faster, meaning that they could also get to dangerous places faster than you may think. To prevent this from happening, it is important that you monitor their movement. If you can, endeavor to lock all access they have to other parts of the house. This will prevent them from falling into the swimming pool or making their way to the road.
Keep harmful and essential items out of reach
Put away items that may come in their way as they move around. Also, endeavor to keep essential and harmful items out of their reach, out of their sight entirely if you can. If you own standing fans, it is advised that you tuck them away as it may fall on them if they get a grip on it.
In addition to keeping items out of their reach, it is equally important that you stop the walkers from reaching walls as this may pinch their toes.
Alternatives To Baby Walkers
The unsafe nature of these baby walkers, as well as their inability to develop muscles in children, have made people consider getting alternatives for their kids. If you’re already thinking of alternatives, then there are some you should try out.
Stationary Activity Center
While this perfect baby walker alternative shares certain similarities with baby walkers, the difference as the name suggests is that it is stationary. Since they do not have wheels and are incapable of moving around, they make an ideal toy station for your child. Most of these stationary activity centers come with a seat and base level. The base-level has been built to be flexible and offers your child the opportunity to bounce as they see fit. Also, depending on the age and weight of your child, these activity centers can be adjusted to meet the exact needs of your child.
Aside from offering you a safe place to keep your baby, these activity centers have been built to give you ample time to handle other tasks while your baby is in a safe spot.
Currently, there are dozens of these stationary activity centers that you can get your hands on. Some have been designed with toys, music boxes, and other accessories that will not only keep your child distracted but will help build cognitive skills. Also, to prevent poisoning, the substances used in the production of these activity centers do not contain harmful chemicals.
For babies learning how to walk, baby jumpers have proven to be one of the best alternatives for them. They play significant roles in the physical and mental growth of your child. Basically, baby jumpers are designed to allow babies to jump or bounce from the base level while on their toes, thus, helping in muscle development. Like the activity center, these jumpers do not have wheels, meaning that you do not have to worry about your kid moving from one part of the house to another.
If you plan on getting these jumpers, there are a couple of factors you need to take into consideration if you’re to get a good one; the size of your baby, the age, the material used, as well as the level of flexibility.
This is another viable and perfect alternative to baby walkers. Most people refer to this as the safest alternative parents can get right now. Unlike the others, a play-yard or playpen is an enclosed playing yard for your kid. To prevent entrapment, a playpen happens to be quite large and offers your kid enough space to play around.
One of the core features of this alternative is your baby only plays with the toys or items you give him/her. You do not have to worry about your child pulling items. Aside from offering them enough playing ground, your baby can choose to sit, lie down, or do anything he/she deems fit. While the safety of your kid when placed in a playpen cannot be compared to that of the others, it is advised that you do not place them there for a long time.
While baby walkers have proven over the course of the years to be an ideal kids’ accessory, the disadvantages or cons may outweigh the benefits that come with making use of it. In this piece, we’ve taken a closer look at these baby walkers and how they impact the mental, motor, and physical growth of your baby.