Are baby walkers safe for development? Are walkers safe for babies legs? If these are some of the questions you are currently battling to find answers to, then you must be having doubts about whether or not to get a baby walker for your child. The good thing is that if your mommy instincts are telling you otherwise, there are several alternatives to baby walkers that can help put your mind at rest.
Are baby walkers safe for babies?
Over the years, doctors, pediatricians and other baby development professionals have been able to prove that baby walkers are not safe. They have attributed this to severe injuries caused when babies fall when using walkers.
Several cases of severe injuries have been reported as a result of a baby falling down the stairs while on a walker or being tipped-over by something on the floor.
For instance, according to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, there have been over 200,000 cases of infant walker related injuries in the US alone since 1990. Majority of these cases include children who have been injured on the head or neck after falling down the stairs in a baby walker.
However, in the recent past, baby walker related injuries have been on a decline. This could be attributed to the implementation of the federal mandatory safety standards and the parents looking into other infant walker alternatives.
In this article, we shall, therefore, review some of these alternatives that you should consider to ensure your baby’s safety. We shall also provide the pros and cons of each so that you can be able to make an informed purchase decision.
Which are the best alternatives to baby walkers that are safe for baby?
Without further ado, let’s look at these alternatives.
1. Stationary Activity Centers
Stationary activity centers are similar to baby walkers except for the fact that they are stationary. They do not have wheels so they make a safe activity center for the baby to stand as he or she plays with the toys.
Most activity centers come with a seat and a base level. The base-level tends to be flexible to enable the baby to bounce a bit while sitting or standing, which helps to exercise their legs muscles. It can also be adjusted to different heights to suit your baby’s needs.
Overall, the standing activity center is a great alternative that will allow you to take a break from holding your baby while he or she is placed in a safe place.
Here are the top 3 stationary activity centers to consider.
Skip Hop Explore 3 Stage Interactive Activity Center
This activity center was designed in collaboration with a pediatrician to ensure it meets the quality standards particularly in terms of safety.
It is appropriate for babies aged 4 months to toddler and ensures that the baby is engaged from head to toe through its 25 developmental activities.
Your baby can choose to stand or sit. The seat swivels or rotates at 360 degrees allowing him or her face different direction while the activity center is still stationary. In addition, the seat fabric stretches a bit allowing the baby to bounce while stepping on the base level, which most of them enjoy.
Most importantly, this is a worthwhile investment as it grows with your baby. The bouncer can be converted easily into your kid’s study or play table as they get older.
- It is free of chemical substances like BPA, Phthalate and PVC.
- Designed to enhance a baby’s motor development
- It is very sturdy on the ground
- Has a variety of play toys
- It is very easy to assemble
- Grows with the baby –from activity table to study table
- The base-level can be adjusted depending on whether or not you want your baby to step on it.
- It does not fold up for storage unless you take the legs off.
Bright Starts 3-in-1 Around We Go Activity Center
This is a really unique activity center for a baby.
It offers a chance for him or her to move around on a seat that is attached to a stationary activity center. This not only offers a fun time but also helps to stimulate the development of their motor skills.
This activity center does not have a base level so baby steps directly onto the floor, which is particularly great for kids learning to walk.
Moreover, babies enjoy the wide variety of activities (over 15) they can engage in while using this activity center as they learn to walk such as the piano and musical toys.
Overall, it is actually a perfect alternative to the traditional walker because it allows your baby to walk around in a controlled and safe place where you choose in at home.
- It gives babies the freedom to walk around the activity center but at a limited position.
- The height of the seat can be adjusted
- Variety of play activities
- Grows with your baby (when a baby learns to walk, the walker can be detached from the activity center)
- Can be used on the carpet or hardwood floor
- It is a little bulky for you to carry around
Fisher-Price 3-in-1 Sit-to-Stand Activity center
Fisher-Price is known for its high-quality baby products. Its play toys are high quality and well designed with the needs of the baby in mind and this activity center is no exception.
It is a 3 in 1 activity center which features a newborn play mat, infant activity center, and a play table for a toddler. Hence, there is no doubt that it is meant to grow with your baby from newborn to toddlerhood.
Moreover, it has 3 adjustable height positions on the seat to accommodate your baby’s height as he or she gets taller.
This activity center is different from the conventional walkers in that it does not have wheels. However, it has a seat that spins at 360 allowing your baby to move around the activity center while fully engaged in the wide variety of toys and activities on it.
- The legs can be removable for easy storage
- Seat pad and play mat are machine washable
- It stimulates motor and sensory development.
- The activity center is very versatile
- It does not take up a lot of space
- The seat pad can only be used with a child who can hold head up unassisted.
2. Baby Jumpers
Baby jumpers, bouncers, and exersaucers play a significant role in a baby’s development especially for babies learning to walk. This is because they are designed to allow the baby to bounce from off the ground or a base level using their toes, which stimulates their legs muscles.
Like the standing activity centers, baby jumpers, bouncers, and exersausers do not have wheels. So they are a safe alternative to walkers since your baby cannot wheel accidentally to a dangerous area in the house.
Top 3 baby jumpers to consider:
Baby Einstein Activity Jumper
This baby bouncer or jumper is designed to stimulate your baby’s development through music and play activities.
It rotates at 360 degrees so baby can move around within the jumper and choose the activities that he or she wants. This includes over 12 activities and 3 entertaining activity stations. Also, there are extra loops where you can hang more toys so as to have more fun.
In addition, it is designed to grow with your baby thanks to the 5 height settings.
This jumper differs from a baby walker in that the seat pad bounces to allow your baby to jump up and down with their toes that the floor. As a result, their leg muscles strengthen as they learn to walk.
It is recommended for babies weighing 15-25 pounds or from 4 to 12 months.
- The seat pad is machine washable
- Toys are cleaned by wiping with a damp cloth
- It has 5 height adjustment
- The seat rotates
- Good for stimulating a child’s core muscles
- Only suitable for babies who can sit up unassisted and who weigh under 25lbs
- The seat may be hard for a baby to rotate
Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo
This jumperoo is rated among the best baby jumpers, which can be seen clearly from the numerous positive reviews by parents.
It features exciting activities for kids including sounds, lights, and music. The jumper seat also rotates at 360 degrees which enables your baby to enjoy all the activities around it.
Most importantly, it grows with your baby in that it has 3 adjustable height positions. In addition, it does not move around so there is no risk of your baby falling down the stairs.
This jumperoo frame pivots to a nested position allowing you to tuck it away when not in use and fold when carrying it.
It also makes a great baby shower gift as it comes in a gift-ready box.
- The seat pad is machine washable
- Very comfortable seat
- Allows babies to jump using their toes, which strengthens the legs muscles
- Can be adjusted at 3 positions
- Does not require a doorway to use it
- Price is on the higher side
Jolly Jumper Baby Exercise with Super Stand
This is another great alternative that allows babies to develop coordination and rhythm, improve balance, and strength their muscles.
It comes with a super-strong 6-foot frame and a saddle seat. The frame does not need any tools to assemble and it can fold flat during storage or traveling.
The good thing about this jumper is that it does not require a doorway since it comes with a frame.
For this reason, it can be used either indoors or outdoors.
The saddle seat is firmly designed to hold the baby in an upright posture by supporting his or her spine during exercise.
- Gives baby an exciting feeling of freedom since they are not enclosed
- Great for engaging active babies who don’t like being confined
- The frame is very strong and sturdy
- Very easy to assemble and fold when storing
- Does not require a doorway; hence can be used both indoors and outdoors
- The height is adjustable
- Takes up more room if you live in a small home
3. Sit-Stand Walkers/ Push Toys
The sit-stand walkers or push toys do not require your baby to sit in a seat or an enclosed area like the activity centers and baby jumpers reviewed above.
A kid can choose to stand while pushing the toy or sit and engage in a wide variety of activities on the push toy.
However, this type of walker needs to be used by children who are more stable on their feet and are practicing how to walk.
There are different types of sit-stand walkers and here are our selected top 2 that you can look at.
Fisher-Price Bright Beginnings Activity walker
This is a perfect alternative for a pre-walker who is crawling and holding onto furniture around the house.
This walker is designed to be pushed by the baby while he or she is holding on to the handlebar. It has wheels that roll smoothly on the floor even on the carpet; hence, helping the baby make those first steps.
For babies who are yet to start learning how to walk, the walker folds flat on the floor for them to engage in the various activities on it.
As the baby grows, this push walker can be converted into a sturdy walker to make the first steps more steady.
- Promotes learning through discovery
- Strengthens fine motor skills through the hands-on activities
- Folds up to ease storage and traveling
- Rolls smoothly even on a carpeted floor
- It is very sturdy
- It does not play any music
VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker
This push walker comes highly rated and recommended by parents of pre-walkers. This could be attributed to the fact that it is affordably priced and yet offers the best learning experience to pre-walkers.
To start with, the play panel is removable so it can be placed on the floor for babies who yet to starting learning how to walk.
This play panel has 5 piano keys that play music. Also, it has over 70 sing-along songs, music, fun phrases, and sound effects that babies and toddlers and enjoy.
In addition, it has light-up buttons, colorful spinning rollers, and shape sorters, which help to promote motor skills development.
In order to control speed, you can set the wheel tension using the 2 wheels settings to it keep from moving too fast to rolling backward. The wheel tension makes it slightly harder for the baby to push it.
- Plays music
- Encourages interactive play
- Grows with your baby
- Promote sensory development
- Moves smoothly on the floor
- Comes with 2AA batteries
- Watch out for the small phone. Gets lost quite often
Another option is to place your baby in a playpen or play yard. This is actually the safest option because the baby is enclosed in a safe area and you control what items or toys they can play with.
In addition, the baby can choose to stand, sit, or lie down when they get tired. This frees you to do other chores in the house or have the much-needed me-time.
The level of safety that comes with placing your baby in a playpen definitely cannot be compared to other alternatives. However, concerns have come up regarding the impact of confining a baby to a playpen for long periods of time. Some professionals have argued that it makes it difficult for a child to explore their surroundings and find new activities to engage in; hence, affecting their development.
It is, therefore, recommended that you should not let your child spend too much time in a playpen. Placing babies in a playpen as you attend to other chores for a short while may not have any detrimental effect as long as you keep them engaged will different activities.
5. Floortime or Natural Walking
If you are completely against the use of infant walkers or any of the alternatives that we have reviewed above, you can consider natural walking or floor time.
The good thing about walking your baby on the floor and especially when barefoot is that it allows them to feel the ground under their feet. This helps them to develop strong muscles, which promotes walking.
While shoes help to protect their delicate feet against injury, allowing the soles of their feet to touch the floor is important. This is because sensory information is usually sent to their brain from the feet and drives them to start learning to walk.
See also: Stuffed animals for babies to cuddle
A few years ago, baby walkers were considered a must-have baby item. However, this has since changed and parents have switched to other alternatives to baby walkers due to the associated injuries. These options also keep the baby contained, occupied, and engaged but in a safe place, unlike the traditional infant walkers. No matter how much of a supermom you would like to be, sometimes you wish you could put the baby down for a minute and do other things. Thus, with these alternatives, you get to do other chores at home and rest without having to hold your baby all the time.