Welcome to ReviewBox! Today we are going to talk about an accessory for babies: the baby walker. Controversial, the walker has long been contraindicated by experts. But for mums and dads who still want to use the accessory, nowadays there are alternatives.
Current models prioritize playful activities in push walkers, unlike the old ones in which the child was held and seated.
In this article, we will show you what you need to know about the walker and the care you should take before buying this accessory.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Summary
- 3 The best Walker: Our Picks
- 4 Buying Guide
- 4.1 What is a baby walker?
- 4.2 When does the baby begin to want to walk?
- 4.3 Is it safe to use a walker to encourage the baby to walk?
- 4.4 What is the difference between the traditional and the push walker?
- 4.5 What care should you take with the baby walker?
- 4.6 What are the advantages and disadvantages of a walker?
- 5 Purchase criteria: Factors to consider before buying the walker
- The traditional walker is not recommended by pediatricians because of the risk of accidents and poor muscle development in babies.
- Nowadays there are alternatives such as the push walker, which includes playful activities and educational toys.
- We will show you here all the precautions you need to take before buying a walker.
The best Walker: Our Picks
Much has been discussed about the safety of using a baby walker. The consensus among experts is that this is a product that brings serious risks to children.
But it is possible to guarantee your child's safety with extra knowledge and care. That is why we have created this Buying Guide with all the information you need to ensure your baby's safety when buying a baby walker.
What is a baby walker?
Made up of rigid structures, usually circular in shape, the traditional walker has an upper part to support the baby and a wide, open lower part that allows the legs and feet to move.
In addition, the walker has a set of wheels attached to the structure to enable the device to move in different directions.
In this way, the idea is that the baby stays inside the walker, erect, with support so as not to fall. Thus, the baby can move its legs to learn to walk.
However, as we will see later, this model of walker has been considered over the years as a high risk, both for accidents and poor development of babies.
Therefore, today there are variations of the baby walker. The main one of these variations is the push walker. This model, besides leaving the child free and standing with the strength of his own body, contains playful activities attached to the device.
And, although the risks continue to exist with this walker, some argue that this model is safer for the baby who is learning to balance and walk.
Another type of walker that has recently emerged is the belt type. In this model, the child is held by a frame made of adjustable fabric and the parents hold it by means of straps.
We will talk about each of these models of infant walker in detail later in this article. The fact is that parents' interest in the baby walker occurs when the baby begins to show signs of wanting to stand up and walk.
When does the baby begin to want to walk?
And so the age at which a baby begins to want to stand and walk can vary according to heredity, the stimulation provided and neurological conditions.
If your baby has only recently started to crawl, you will need to be patient because he or she will still need to get stronger to start walking. Still, experts say that in general, children start wanting to walk between 10 and 18 months of age.
When the baby begins to want to stand up, it is natural for him to look for furniture to lean on. It is at this stage that most mothers and fathers buy the baby walker, but here the risks are still great because the muscles of the child have not been strengthened.
You can then stimulate the baby by using safe furniture or the playpen, which is a space with fewer risks, in case of falls.
Only when babies are already stronger and can stand for a longer period of time can push walkers be introduced. Still, respecting the time of each child.
Experts warn that the important thing is not to compare the abilities of children and also not to force the early stimulation.
Regardless of whether or not you have a walker, the stimulus for the child to take its first steps can and should be done in a natural and playful way.
For example, the father or mother can hold the baby by both hands and encourage the first steps. Another way is to stand a few centimeters away from the child and let him walk to you alone.
In either case, it is also essential that you ensure that the child is wearing non-slip footwear.
Is it safe to use a walker to encourage the baby to walk?
In many countries the use of a baby walker is contraindicated. In Canada, for example, even the manufacture of a walker has been banned since 2007. The fact is that the contraindication of the walker is based on the risk of accidents that this device offers. Besides the risk of delay in motor development of babies.
According to experts, although the walker offers independence to children, this is even one of the problems of the device. This is because babies still do not have enough physical and emotional development to manage so much freedom aboard the walker.
It is already a consensus among experts that the child's capacity for self-protection is only acquired from the age of five. Therefore, a baby stuck in a device with wheels gives a false sense of protection.
In addition, experts warn that the use of a walker can compromise the muscle stimulation, delaying natural actions at this age, such as standing and walking without support.
This is because with the traditional walker the child ends up using the feet wrong way and leaning on the structure to balance.
With the push walker, although there is still a consensus that it can cause accidents such as falls, there are no in-depth studies on the effects on child development.
What is the difference between the traditional and the push walker?
As we have seen, the traditional walker keeps the baby attached and upright in a circular structure with wheels.
With this model children end up pushing their feet or leaning on the tips of their toes and this hinders their development. In addition, traditional walkers do not allow children to balance themselves using their own body strength.
The fact is that for children to walk, they need to move their feet correctly and use their body to generate momentum. In this way, the baby can balance on the move.
The push walker, on the other hand, was created as an alternative to avoid the risk of accidents and poor development. The push walker resembles a mini cart with handles on which the baby supports himself and wheels to facilitate movement.
With the push walker, the baby uses his body strength to move his feet. Even so, the risk of falls is not eliminated.
Therefore, as we will see later in this article, extra care by mums and dads is fundamental to ensure the baby's safety while using the walker.
Another differential, however, is that this type of walker usually comes equipped with playful and educational toys. With activities and toys, the walker stimulates the child's motor and cognitive coordination.
Below, you can see the main differences between the traditional walker and the push baby walker.
|Traditional walker||Push walker|
|Infant position||Held and upright||Standing|
|Risk of accidents||High||Medium|
|Stimulus for walking||Wrong||Correct|
|Toys to play||Has||Does not have|
What care should you take with the baby walker?
Firstly, babies should only use the walker if they are already able to sit, crawl and stand for some time. In order to use a walker, the child needs to have muscles that have already been strengthened.
In addition, while your baby is using a walker, it is essential that an adult is around to supervise him. This will minimise the risk of accidents such as falls. Remember that your baby still has no notion of what is or is not dangerous.
In addition, stairs, ramps, slippery floors and risk areas such as kitchens and rooms with lots of furniture also need to be avoided. It is important that the space is free of rugs or any object that could get caught in the wheels and cause the baby to trip.
With an adult nearby it is also easier to help the child to maintain the correct posture and step when pushing the walker. It is also recommended that you do not let your baby spend too much time in the walker. Set a few minutes a day.
And even if the child uses the walker to practice their first steps, it is essential to encourage them to walk on their own.
The baby should only use the walker if they are able to sit and crawl. An adult needs to be around all the time to supervise him.
The recommendation is that you take turns between using a walker and activities in which the child can move freely.
But it is not necessary to encourage your child to walk all the time. The more time he has to play freely, the faster he will develop.
Therefore, when the child is already solid in balance and steps, you should leave the walker aside and motivate him to move without support. Also, you should be extra careful with the toys that are included in the push walker.
The activities included in the walker, in general, have parts that fit together and move. Therefore, extra care must be taken so that the child does not hurt himself with these parts or put them in his mouth.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a walker?
In addition to allowing the baby to use his stride correctly and to use his body strength to balance himself, the push walker usually has extra activities.
In general, this model has a table which can even be used on the floor as a play table to create sensory stimuli. The vibrant colours, different shapes and activities also help in the motor development of the baby.
In addition, some models even allow learning about numbers and letters. We will talk more about the different types of activities offered by the push walker in the Purchase Criteria.
The disadvantages of the walker, as we have seen, are that, regardless of the model, there is the risk of accidents, such as falls and traumas. In addition, there may be delayed or poor muscular development of the baby, who, if left for too long in the walker, may take a long time to walk by himself.
Purchase criteria: Factors to consider before buying the walker
If you have decided to buy a walker for your baby you must take into account that there are varied models, with different functions and objectives. But then you may wonder: how do I know that I am buying the best model available?
To help answer this question, we have listed below the factors you should consider before making a walker purchase
Below we will detail each of these factors for you to make the right choice.
It is important that you look at the different models of walker to choose the one that best suits your baby's reality.
In common, they all abuse of colours to stimulate the child's interest. And, as we have seen, there are basically two models: the push walker and the belt walker. Among the push walkers, you will find two types: the simple and the personalized.
The simple walker is formed only by front wheels and the support handle for the baby to hold on. Personalized walkers vary a lot. You can find them in the shape of animals, dolls, cars, motorbikes, among others.
It is also possible to find this type of walker with a support seat and folding type. The most popular models also include educational accessories, either as part of the walker structure itself or in table format.
But besides the push walker, it is also common to find the belt model, which fits around the child's waist. This walker is made of fabric, like a sling, in which parents support the child by means of straps.
The advantage of this model is that adults can maintain their posture and avoid back pain, besides the fabric being comfortable for the baby.
The most modern models of walker have other functions besides helping the child to walk. In general you will find the walker with functions ranging from two to four.
Some models allow, for example, the walker to be transformed into a seat, which remains immobile and is ideal for the child to eat. Other models even have spaces for cups and baby bottles.
The walker models that have an activity table can be folded to offer up to three functions
- Play table
- Floor board
- Tray attached to the cradle
So the child can play freely with the activity table in different ways. Some walkers also include a brake function to increase the baby's safety while pushing the walker.
The educational and playful activities offered in the push walker vary among the models available on the market. They serve to stimulate the child's motor and visual coordination.
In general, most include many colours, as well as matching parts and sound buttons. The most complete models include activities to entertain and stimulate the creativity of the little ones, such as mini mobile phones with horns, gears, rattles, spinning balls, colorful shapes and textures to fit in.
In addition, you can find walkers that stimulate the learning of numbers, shapes and colours.
(Featured image source: Kyryl Gorlov / 123RF)