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What Are Baby Walkers, and Should Babies Use It?

What Are Baby Walkers? Take the right steps with MEIDE Babysitting!

In today’s learning article, we explore all about baby walkers and whether babies should use them.

What are baby walkers? Well, there are plenty of gizmos and devices parents are exposed to when it comes to their children throughout their early growing up years. A baby walker can be considered one of them.

Think strollers, UV sterilizers, helmets… and of course our topic for today – the hotly debated baby walkers.

So, what are baby walkers exactly, and is it a product that you should be buying for your baby?

What Is a Baby Walker?

Believe it or not, baby walkers have existed since the 15th century in Europe, and known more commonly as a go-cart for the wheeled version.

A baby walker is a device that young babies and toddlers can use to move from one spot to another. Since infants are unable to roam about unassisted, a baby walker is supposed to function as a support for them to do so.

4 Types of Baby Walkers

To begin, there are 4 main categories of baby walkers you should be aware of. They are:

  • Traditional wheeled baby walkers, also known as sit-to-stand walkers
  • Seated walkers
  • Convertible walkers
  • Immobile baby jumpers, otherwise known as play centers or activity centers

Similarities of Baby Walkers

Without doubt, all 4 types of baby walkers compose of a plethora of colors and designs to choose from. They come in different brands, models, sizes, and prices. Also, some are enhanced with lullabies and sound effects too. Lastly, almost all walkers in modern day would encompass a variety of toys and fun activities to entice babies (and parents).

Read on to our section below on Baby Walker Uses, Baby Walker Benefits, and Baby Walker Drawbacks for further details!

Differences of Baby Walkers

The 4 different types of baby walkers differ in terms of:

  • Function / Uses
  • Pitfalls (read: danger to baby)
  • Recommended age and weight
  • Price

Read on to our section below on Baby Walker Uses, Baby Walker Benefits, and Baby Walker Drawbacks for further details!

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Here is a brief definition and a sample photo of each type of baby walker:

1) Traditional / Sit-To-Stand Baby Walker

Example of a traditional , sit to stand baby walker.
Example of a traditional , sit to stand baby walker.

A traditional baby walker allows your child to hold on to it and pull himself or herself from the sitting to standing position. From there, your baby could then push the walker like a shopping cart to move around. The walker is supposed to act as a form of support and entertainment. Often, the baby walker will consist of vibrant colors, amusing music, and fanciful toys for the baby to play with too.

2) Seated Baby Walker

What Are Baby Walkers? Take the right steps with MEIDE Babysitting!
Example of a seated baby walker

A seated baby walker allows a baby to sit on it and use their feet, ankle and legs to propel themselves around. Usually, the seated baby walker is made of a plastic or metal frame and fitted with a fabric seat with holes cut out for the baby’s two legs to reach the floor. This type of baby walker has weight limits (usually for babies 10-12kg and below). Thus, parents and guardians should always be wary of the safety instructions before attempting to use them. Of note, babies who are not able to support their head or neck independently should not be using baby walkers!

Again, these seated baby walkers would be equipped with entertaining music, designs and activities for the little ones.

3) Convertible Baby Walker

Sample of Convertible Baby Walker from Babyschooling Website (by MEIDE)
Sample of Convertible Baby Walker from Babyschooling Website (by MEIDE) ; (Photo Credits: from https://www.babyschooling.com/baby-products/walkers/best-baby-walkers-5-months-old/)

Now that you know what is a sit-to-stand baby walker and what is a seated baby walker, think of a convertible baby walker as a fusion of both. A convertible baby walker is a seated baby walker that can be transformed into a traditional / sit-to-stand walker, so that your baby can keep using the baby walker even as he or she gets heavier and older. As you might expect, convertible baby walkers tend to cost more at the outset. However, for fans of baby walkers, they would save you some bucks (and hassle and space), as you would not need to buy two different baby walkers.

4) Immobile Baby Jumper / Play Center / Activity Center / Exersaucer

Sample of Play Center and Toys for Babies - by MEIDE
Example of a baby playing with toys in a stationary position.

As the name states, a baby jumper is immobile and does not have wheels. Also known as an exersaucer, or play or activity center, this device is simple like a seated baby walker without wheels or any ability to move around. Also, often, these devices do not allow the baby’s feet to touch the ground – unlike seated baby walkers. Notably, an exersaucer does enable your baby to remain upright whilst seated and playing on it. (note: this is pertinent to understand the drawbacks and health hazard risks elucidated later below)

What Is a Baby Walker Used for?

Modern baby walkers have evolved to cover a wide range of uses and functions.

Here are the different uses of each type of baby walker in the table below.

WARNING : Read through this whole article and do your balanced research before deciding on the right course of action! Simply relying on one table or source of information may lead to unsafe decisions. The use of baby walkers is, in general, controversial and unsafe, as regarded by international health authorities.

Type of WalkerMinimum AgeUses
Traditional Baby Walker / Sit-to-stand Walkers6-10 monthsSupposed to facilitate your child mobility by allowing him or her to move from one place to another
Seated Walker5-10 monthsMay be used by young babies and toddlers, who can support their head and neck, but cannot stand independently yet, to move aroundUsually has fun and interactive toys to stimulate the child
Convertible Walker6 months and upConverts from a seated walker to a traditional walker, and vice versa
Immobile Baby Jumpers / Play Centers / Exersaucer6-12 monthsMay be used by babies who cannot support themselves fully in an upright position yet, and thus gets support from the jumper / exersaucerEntertains and keeps your child engaged while being on the same stationary spotComes with plenty of fun toys for your child to explore
4 Types of Baby Walkers and Their Uses (Risks are NOT mentioned here – read full article for them)

How Much Does a Baby Walker Cost?

In case you are wondering, baby walkers vary in price depending on the brand and model.

Here are some value-for-money options that you may consider (if you have indeed chosen to purchase a baby walker despite the controversial points discussed above) :

  1. Fisher Price Musical Lion Walker, $39.99, Toys R Us
  2. Tiny Love 4-in-1 Here I Grow Mobile Activity Centre, $189, Mothercare
  3. Kolcraft Tiny Steps 2-in-1 Activity Walker, $59.42, Amazon Singapore
  4. Dream On Me 2-in-1 Charlie Car Walker, $84.93, Amazon Singapore
  5. Delta Children Lil’ Play Station 4-in-1 Activity Walker, $117.11, Amazon Singapore

Now, before you click or rush down to buy a walker, read on to understand the benefits versus drawbacks of baby walkers first.

The Underwhelming “Benefits” of a Baby Walker

While there are plenty of controversies surrounding baby walkers, there are also touted benefits of owning one.

1. Allows You to Take a Breather

Baby Walkers Can Help You Catch A Breather!
Baby Walkers Can Help You Catch A Breather!

Modern walkers come with plenty of stimulating activities that your baby will enjoy and be entertained with. They are also visually stirring with vibrant colors and modes of play. Many baby walkers also double as activity centers.

Apart from stimulating their little minds and honing their fine motor skills, they also give you a little time to catch a break and do what you need. Despite drawbacks as mentioned below, the possible benefit of allowing parents to have a transient peace of mind and have some of the rare “me time” is a true treasure that some would vouch for.

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2. Gives Your Child More Mental Stimulation

As mentioned above, baby walkers are installed with many activities and toys. These visual and audio effects help promote mental stimulation for your baby. By increasing the chances of play time for your little one, baby walkers could play a part in your child’s mental development.

That said, do remember to read on about the hazards and drawbacks. It is worthwhile to note that opponents to baby walkers would argue that all these activities and toys can be delivered to your baby without the “walker” or “jumper” component and thus avoid the drawbacks.

3. “Supports” Your Child During The Early Stages of Mobility

Without a baby walker, your child may not taste independence so fast. The period of time when your baby progresses from flipping over, to crawling, to sitting and standing, may be arduous and challenging for both baby and parent. Some parents claim that using a baby walker helps their child achieve walking faster and kickstart the baby’s mobility. Also, it may help prevent accidental falls by providing some support.

However, it is vital to note that these claims are widely disputed. These claims could have been put forth as part of commercial and marketing purposes by companies selling the devices, or simply part of a psychological effect from said marketing. Remarkably, research has shown that even if baby walkers do provide certain such benefits, they are short-lived. On the other hand, they may do more harm than good in the long run. In fact, the baby walkers may even pose additional immediate risks (such as risks of the baby moving to dangerous locations like the stove and kitchen). Read on to understand more about these drawbacks!

The Vital Drawbacks of a Baby Walker

This is something that all parents should know. Baby walkers are not as fun and safe as they have been marketed to be.

As a background, Canada had banned the sale of baby walkers back in 2004. Also, many organizations, like the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Kids In Danger, have all released alerts and warnings about the risks of baby walkers. In general, these established and trusted authorities are actually discouraging parents from using baby walkers.

Here are the main drawbacks of a baby walker:

1. Developmental Delays

Baby walkers pose immediate and long-term risks to our babies’ development.

Did you know? Research has shown that contrary to popular belief, baby walkers do not provide any benefit to a baby’s development. In fact, it may delay walking for a typical child for 2 to 3 weeks.

This is because babies need opportunities to learn how to pull themselves up, crawling, and creeping about – opportunities that a walker does not offer. Through these activities, they develop motor skills, balance and muscle strength.

Scientifically speaking, baby walkers also stop babies from seeing their legs and feet when using it, preventing them from realizing that their feet and legs move the walkers.

In yet another study, the amount of time spent using baby walkers also matters: it was found that for every 24 hours spent in a baby walker, they learn to walk 3 days later and stand 4 days later than they originally should.

From our perspective, these data are scary enough for us to hold the reins before buying or using a baby walker. But, that is not all.

2. Safety Problems

Baby walkers pose immediate safety issues too for our precious babies.

Although the number has dropped significantly, baby walkers are still responsible for about 2,000 injuries yearly in the USA. These injuries are serious to the extent that they require visits to hospital emergency departments.

Increasingly, studies have also shown that baby walkers cause many injuries that could have been prevented, due to slipping, tripping, and toppling over.

One likely factor is that baby walkers enable babies to reach areas that they could not have, like kitchens and toilets, or allow them to grab dangerous items that may have been lying on low tables or furniture.

On top of that, the walkers also help them to speed around quickly, sometimes to the extent that their parents cannot react in time and prevent accidents from happening.

If you’ve noticed, certain toys on the walker that may have been designed to keep your baby entertained could end up posing as a danger. Your baby may hit his head on hard plastic rattles or toy figures on the walker. Their feet may also get stuck under the suspended bottom part where the wheels are while gliding.

All said and done, a baby walker does come with many safety problems and issues.

The Verdict: Should I Buy a Baby Walker for My Baby to Use?

A Baby Walker May Not Be Your Best Solution.
A Baby Walker May Not Be Your Best Solution.

For many parents, as well as babysitters and our company MEIDE Babysitting, the potential risks highlighted to date of baby walkers, does seem to outweigh “benefits” of the baby walkers. In our conscience, the health and safety of babies should remain as top priority.

Nonetheless, we hear you. For the baby walker fanatics, who still believe baby walkers are the way to go – it is useful to note that there are models available that allow you to control different settings to minimize accidents. For example, you can toggle the speed, height, and even the wheels. You may also limit the time your baby spends in the walker to a maximum of 15 minutes a day, and to put your baby inside only when they can sit independently.

Moreover, given the many options that you can find that also offer the same purported benefits without the same risks, as well as the similarities and differences of the 4 types of baby walkers explained above, we believe it would greatly help you to make a better decision – whether to buy a baby walker or not, and whether to let your baby use a baby walker or not.

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