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Shopping Guide for Best Baby Walkers

Baby walkers are somewhat controversial, yet still widely used. Some experts claim they can be detrimental to a baby's natural development (not to mention a safety hazard in some situations), whereas proponents of baby walkers claim they're an excellent way to keep little ones contentedly occupied for a few minutes. If a baby walker is the right product for your household, we're here to help you find the best and safest models, and learn how to use them responsibly.

At BestReviews, our mission is to aid you, the consumer, in finding the right products to fit your needs. Following extensive research, we've put together a product matrix — found at the top of this page — featuring the five best baby walkers out there.

Before you make your purchase, read on for our full guide that will teach you all you need to know about baby walkers, their features, pros and cons, and how to select a suitable model that offers good value for money.

Modern baby walkers tend to have a range of safety features, such as brake pads that stop them from going over a step.

Pros and Cons of Baby Walkers

As mentioned above, baby walkers aren't loved by many experts, but they do have their pros, as well as cons.

Pros:

  • Assuming the area is secure, seated baby walkers can give parents a safe place to put their baby down for a few minutes while they attend to essential chores — or when they just really need a break and a coffee.

  • Many babies love exploring in a walker, especially active types who may be frustrated by their lack of mobility.

  • Most baby walkers some with a range of toys that provide entertainment and stimulation.
     

Cons:

  • Baby walkers can be unsafe if used near stairs without a safety gate, close to pools, or near other hazards.

  • Many experts believe that baby walkers can interfere with a baby's natural development — though this shouldn't be a problem if only used occasionally, and for short periods of time.

  • Baby walkers only have a short shelf-life, since there's no need for them once your baby starts walking on her own.

Baby walkers are controversial and may have some safety and developmental risks, so consider all the pros and cons before you decide to purchase a baby walker, and with all products for children, stay informed and take all suggested precautions seriously.

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Types of Baby Walkers

Types

Seated Baby Walkers

Seated baby walkers have a fabric, sling-like seat in the middle of a frame on wheels. They support your baby so he can use his legs to move himself around in the walker.

  • Pros:

Double up as play stations, have a tray for food or activities.

  • Cons:

Potential to cause developmental problems if used too regularly, unsafe if used unsupervised, or in an area that hasn't been baby proofed.

  • Price:

Around $40 to $80.

EXPERT TIP

With a seated baby walker, make sure the seat is well-padded and comfortable. It should offer plenty of support, so it's better if it's slightly structured, rather than too flimsy.


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Types

Push Along Baby Walkers

Push along baby walkers have four wheels and a handle. They may take the form of a push along stuffed animal, a brick-filled cart, or a plastic activity center on wheels.

  • Pros:

Helps your baby get his balance while walking, without physically holding him up like a seated baby walker, may have a longer shelf life as your little one will use it for other things once he's mastered walking.

  • Cons:

Can only be used once your little one starts standing and "cruising" by herself.

  • Price:

Roughly $20 to $50.

It's seated baby walkers that most experts have a problem with, so if you're concerned about the developmental hazards, opt for a push along baby walker instead.

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Considerations for Selecting a Baby Walker

Considerations

Brakes and Speed Settings

Pay attention to brakes and speed settings, as these can help make a baby walker more safe. Those that have brakes can be used stationary, as well as for walking.

Speed settings are also useful to stop your baby from dashing off too quickly.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

If you have hardwood or tile floors, rather than carpet, put your baby walker on a lower speed setting, otherwise your little one will be zooming around much too quickly.

Considerations

Toys and Attachments

Most baby walkers have some kind of toys or entertaining attachments to keep your baby amused. These might be spinning parts, basic musical instruments, buttons that produce lights or sounds when pressed, toy telephones, or a wide range of other baby-friendly amusements.

Many seated baby walkers have removable "entertainment consoles" which fit in the tray on the front of the walker. When removed, the tray can be used for food, coloring, or other activities.

Baby walkers should be height-adjustable, so you can adapt them as your baby grows.

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Considerations

Color and Design

While the color and design shouldn't be the most important factor when selecting a baby walker, it's still wise to choose one that you like the look of, and that you think your baby will enjoy.

As with a lot of baby products, most are quite bright, although you can find some in more muted tones.

Some models also have themed designs, such as jungle, race car, or underwater.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some baby walkers are more gender-neutral than others. You may prefer this if you're likely to be using it for another baby of undetermined sex, or if you simply prefer not to gender stereotype.

Baby Walker Safety

As long as you're careful, baby walkers should be very safe for your little one. Let's find out more about how to prevent accidents or injury.

  • Never use a baby walker anywhere near steps or stairs, unless they're fitted with a suitable stair gate.

  • Always supervise your baby while she's using her walker.

  • Make sure the floor is completely clear of objects that could be tripping hazards if your baby ran his walker into them.

  • Check your chosen baby walker is wide at the base and feels stable, not like it could tip over.

  • Take note of the maximum weight limit, and stop using the baby walker once your child exceeds it.

  • Never put your baby in her walker anywhere near a pool or other body of water.

  • If your baby walker has a harness, use it.

CAUTION

Ideally, baby walkers should be used indoors only. You'll find more tripping hazards outside. Even when carefully supervised, children can move surprisingly quickly in baby walkers, and can get a fair distance away from you before you know it.

Tips

  • If you're short on space, look for a baby walker that can be folded up for easy storage while not in use.

  • Some baby walkers can transform into a high chair, table, or stationary activity center once your baby has grown out of them.

  • Baby walkers aren't suitable for infants who can't yet support their own heads.

  • Look for a baby walker that's been approved by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM).

  • It's worth thinking about how loud the activity center on your chosen baby walker is — some are noisy to the point of annoyance.

You can find baby walkers with a built-in MP3 connection, so your baby can listen to his favorite songs while dashing around.

FAQ

Q. Are baby walkers easy to keep clean?

A. Most baby walkers are fairly easy to keep clean — good news if your baby seems to make a mess as soon as you look away for five seconds. The tray and main body of a walker tends to be plastic, and the seating is normally plastic-coated, too, meaning you just need to give it a good wipe down when it gets dirty.

Q. Is there a maximum amount of time a baby should spend in a walker?

A. If you have a seated walker, you should never sit your baby in there for longer than 20 to 30 minutes at a time.

Q. Do I need a baby walker to help teach my child to walk?

A. Walking comes naturally to able-bodied children, so baby walkers definitely aren’t necessary to teach them to walk. All babies reach those milestones at their own rate, and there's no evidence to suggest a baby walker helps them get there any faster. In fact, the opposite may be true; if your baby is using a walker regularly, he might not be practicing standing and "cruising" unsupported as often as babies who don't use a walker, both of which are building blocks on the path to walking.

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