Baby walkers may seem like a good idea to get your baby up and moving early and keep them occupied so you can handle other chores. However, baby walkers can be dangerous in a number of ways, and even delay your baby’s ability to walk. So, instead of a baby walker, you might want to look into an alternative baby activity center.
Why Baby Walkers Are Dangerous
A study in the Pediatrics journal reported that over 230,000 children were taken to emergency rooms for injuries related to baby walkers between 1990 and 2014. Beyond potential developmental delays, the basic problem with baby walkers is that they allow babies to move quickly before they’re ready and reach higher places, getting themselves into trouble.
There are various ways your baby can get hurt in a baby walker. Many kids fall down stairs in their walkers. Some fall into pools and drown. Babies can also get into harmful or poisonous items, run into sharp items, tip over, get tangled in electrical cords or burn themselves with boiling water or fire sources.
Many of these injuries can occur while adults are watching, simply because adults can’t react quickly enough. After all, a baby in a walker can move over three feet in one second.
Luckily, there are many alternatives to wheeled walkers which are not only safer, but better for baby’s development. Below, we cover some of the best alternatives on the market, including activity centers, jumpers, old fashioned playpens and, for older babies, push toys.
The Safest Baby Walker Alternatives
- Skip Hop Baby Activity Center — Best interactive activity center
- Creative Baby Very Hungry Caterpillar Activity Jumper — Best jumper
- Summer Pop ‘n’ Jump Portable Activity Center — Best indoor/outdoor activity center
- V-Tech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker — Best push toy
- Graco Pack ‘n’ Play Simple Solutions Playard — Best old-fashioned playpen
- Best interactive baby center
1. Skip Hop Baby Activity Center
The Skip Hop Baby Activity Center allows your baby to move and stimulate leg muscles. It also offers a variety of interactive toys to play with and is adjustable so it can grow with baby from four months old to toddler.
- Best jumper
2. Creative Baby Very Hungry Caterpillar Activity Jumper
This jumper gives babies the opportunity to bounce, play and interact with characters from the children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. There’s a lot to play with here, including a removable music tray.
- Best indoor/outdoor activity center
3. Summer Pop ‘n’ Jump Portable Activity Center
The Summer Pop ‘n’ Jump Portable Activity Center is perfect for at-home and on-the-go play, even if you end up outside. This play center packs up easily and includes a sun screen for outdoor play.
- Best push toy
4. V-Tech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker
A multi-use toy, the V-Tech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker is meant for babies and toddlers from nine months to three years old. The play panel is removable, so you can let baby play with that on its own or simply push around the walker portion without all the bells and whistles.
- Best old-fashioned playpen
5. Graco Pack ‘n’ Play Simple Solutions Playard
The advantage of a playard (formerly known as a playpen) is its simplicity and freedom of movement. Your baby can freely roam within the confines of the Graco playard with whatever toys you decide to put in it. It’s also portable and converts into a changing station.
Babies need constant entertainment and development, so finding a safe way to keep baby occupied and happy is a never-ending task. Baby walkers may seem like the solution, but they can be very dangerous. The best alternative is a stationary baby activity center or, if your baby is old enough, a push toy.
Baby Walker FAQs
Baby walkers with wheels that confine your baby while allowing them to move freely have been proven quite dangerous because babies can get into a variety of bad situations, from falling down stairs to falling in a pool to reaching dangerous items, such as hot dishes or cleaning supplies. In addition, they limit a baby’s natural progression toward walking, which can delay development rather than help it.
Babies can definitely learn to walk without a walker! In fact, walkers can actually inhibit babies from learning to walk.
Encouraging activities that lead to walking is one of the best ways to help your baby stand and walk. These activities include rolling, sitting, crawling and even bouncing in their jumper. Once your baby is holding on and standing, you can encourage them to cruise around while holding furniture. You can then support your baby in standing on their own by helping to hold them up from their core rather than their hands.
Babies develop at their own rate, so you shouldn’t rush them to any milestones. If you’re concerned that your baby isn’t developing properly, you should contact your doctor for an evaluation.