Baby Walker: Disadvantages & Dangers (Plus 6 Safer Alternatives To Baby Walker To Try Instead)

Baby Walkers Disadvantages And Dangers And Safer Alternatives To Baby Walker

Parents, if you knew that one item of baby gear was linked to approximately 10,000 baby injuries per year, would you use it with your infant? What about if this same product was banned in other nations, and discouraged by pediatrians in the United States1? Would you still want to have it in your home?

I’m talking about baby walkers.

According to US emergency room records from 1990-2014, this item of baby gear has contributed to over 230,000 injuries for infants2.

Since these finding were presented, there has been a push for parents to stop using baby walkers, as they result in dangerous accidents, such as head trauma and falling down the stairs.

Further, some parents may think that baby walkers will help encourage walking, but this is not true. They actually inhibit baby’s development toward this important milestone, and can impact baby’s little legs and force their muscles and baby’s feet into an improper position3.

If you want to help your infant learn how to walk safely, there are much better alternatives than dangerous baby walkers.

This article is not a substitute for medical advice or consultation.

What Are Baby Walkers?

A baby walker is a type of baby gear with a harness seat where baby sits, surrounded by a wheeled frame (anywhere from 4-8 wheels). Usually, there is a tray or activity station at the front and a frame that is wider than the seat, for balance and to act as a bumper.

Baby’s feet reach the floor, allowing them to scoot around and be mobile.

Since babies are in an upright position in a baby walker, it gives the illusion that they are practicing walking, when really, they are seated and not developing the necessary walking skills (such as balance) required to meet this milestone.

Do Baby Walkers Help Babies Learn To Walk?

Do Baby Walkers Help Babies Learn To Walk?

While baby walkers may be entertaining for babies and be fun for them to shoot around the house, traditional baby walkers do not help a baby learn to walk sooner or better than without a baby walker4.

Why? Because your infant needs to develop leg muscles and core strength to hold themselves up. The type of activities which build these muscles include crawling, scooting, and pulling up on low tables or other furniture.

Wheeled baby walkers provide too much support, so that developing infants don’t actually work the proper muscles.

Why Are Baby Walkers Dangerous? – All Risks & Disadvantages Explained

Here are the dangers related to using a baby walkers:

1. Falls/Injuries

Baby walkers have been found as the leading cause of injury in children under four years of age – the leading cause5!

The risks could be anything from head bumps on furniture and coffee tables, to tipping over because of a dropped book on the floor could. The reality is there are SO MANY risks when a baby is mobile in a wobbly walker and a parent is not right with them at every moment.

The seat gives babies a lift, making it easier for them to grab knives off low counters, or reach a candle propper on a side table – items they may not have been able to reach otherwise.

2. Speed

Babies can go as fast as 3 feet per second in a baby walker – that’s fast! Too fast, actually, for an infant6. And, as your probably guessed, it leads to accidents. Even if your little one was right beside you a moment ago, in a matter of 3 seconds, they could be in another room entirely.

Why Are Baby Walkers Dangerous

3. Head Injury

Falling down the stairs is probably the most obvious threat to babies in a baby walker – such falls could injure the spine, neck or cause major head injury. This type of fall could result in an emergency room visit, as the statistics related to injuries with baby walkers have already indicated7.

4. False Sense Of Security

Parents may feel that their little one is safe, simply because they are happy.

While it’s great for a baby to enjoy playing, there are so many risks with using a baby walker. Parents should be within arm’s reach of them at all times. A dropped toy or a table corner can be dangerous to children zooming around in a baby walker.

This false sense of security should never replace supervising your active baby8.

5. Inhibits Development

Despite the impression that a baby walker will help a baby learn how to walk, the opposite has been discovered: baby walkers inhibit development of the legs and motor skills9.

This is because a baby doesn’t learn proper balance in a baby walker, they learn to scoot, instead.

Since balance is a key part of learning to walk, it’s important to allow your baby to learn how to hold themselves up and stand independently – not lean on a baby seat. They will develop the muscles needed for balance by pulling up on furniture or by crawling.

6. Babies Who Use Walkers May Start To Walk Later

Use of a traditional baby walker may actually impede your baby learning to walk, as studies have found that those who used baby walkers started walking independently later than babies who never sat in one10.

Do Baby Walkers Have Any Advantages?

Despite all the risks involved, parents continue to purchase baby walkers, since their little ones do have fun in them.

However, if it’s just about having fun, consider getting some cool stationary activity centers (which also encourages your baby to stand up for longer periods of time) without the risk of zooming around or falling and bumping their head.

If you’re looking for something that will keep your child entertained as well as safe, a great alternative is a stationary activity center.

Final Verdict: Are Baby Walkers Safe?

Baby walkers are not safe: there have been hundreds of thousands of serious accidents (emergency room visits – and worse!) related to the use of baby walkers.

While they are not banned (yet) in the USA, other countries don’t allow them, for safety reasons.

Do not use rolling baby walkers, choose alternatives, instead.

What Can My Baby Use Instead Of A Walker? – 6 Safe Alternatives To Baby Walker

Here are my favorite and safe alternatives to baby walkers. They can actually help your little one learn how to walk without putting them at risk of all those injuries or delays in motor development!

What Can My Baby Use Instead Of A Walker?

1. Low Furniture

The cheapest and best alternatives to baby walker you probably already have: couches, ottomans and low coffee tables.

These sturdy structures are ideal for babies to pull up on and work on balance and stepping from one item to another.

2. Learning Table

A learning table, or activity table is a sturdy, low-standing surface with a play panel. The idea is to encourage babies to utilize the standing position for longer periods of time, which develops muscle and balance11.

Some tables have a removable activity panel, so the table becomes a kid’s regular, flat table if you need it for drawing or crafts as they get older.

3. Play Yards

If keeping your little one in a safe place for three minutes is your biggest concern, then play yards are a good choice. Your infant can be in a secure place (within your sight, of course) without risk of injury.

A play yard, also called playpen, can be a good environment for your little one to practice crawling, work on pulling up and staying in a standing position, which is awesome for muscle development necessary to begin walking.

4. Baby Push Walker

A push walker is different from a push toy. Push toys are typically for younger babies, or when crawling on the floor or play mat.

A push walker, though, is great for when baby starts taking their first steps. It requires they stand upright, but provides a little stability and support12 – just like walkers elderly folks use for similar reasons.

Similarly, a sit-to-stand walker is the same idea, the front portion is an activity center with buttons, games, etc, and the back is a push walker older babies can control independently, once they start walking.

You should be within arm’s reach of your infant when they first begin using a push infant walkers, as falls are common. These are great for babies who are walking confidently, not for young infants.

Are Push Along Walkers OK For Babies?

5. Baby Activity Center

One of my favorite alternatives to baby walkers are stationary activity centers13. An activity center is a safe, convenient option to keeping your little one busy so you can make dinner, or just sit for a few minutes.

Some have stationary seats, while others have seats that are springy and allow baby to bounce a little as they interact with entertaining objects or sensory toys attached to the frame or center of the activity center.

Think of a short counter with fun activities that has an attached chair. Some allow for movement, while others are completely stationary.

The main benefit to using activity centers is entertainment without the risk of injury. They provide a suitable alternative to baby walkers, while allowing baby to play safely.

6. Baby Jumpers

Using a baby jumper (a seat with a springy harness, usually set up in a door frame) offers a means of exercise as babies push their legs in the jumper’s seat.

PRO TIP: While a baby jumper is considered safer than baby walkers, they are not highly recommended as a way to teach an infant how to walk. Baby jumpers are safer because they are stationed in one place, so there is no risk of falling or tipping over. Make sure you purchase one that will firmly support baby’s spine, instead of a softer, cushioned seat.

However, baby jumpers should be used sparingly, as the seat and position of the legs is not ideal for baby’s leg muscle development14.

How Can I Help My Baby Learn To Walk?

You can help them learn to walk by having them practice standing up on their own, and ‘cruising’ around safe, low furniture (like a coffee table or firm cushions).

1. Plenty Of Tummy time

When a baby spends time on their belly, its actually a great form of exercise.

A rolling push toy and other crawling toys can be a way to entertain and encourage younger babies who are just starting to crawl. Simple push toys can be rolled ahead, encouraging coordination as they move toward the object.

Other ideas:

  • Encourage movement by intentionally placing items out of each.
  • Spread a play mat on the ground with sensory toys.
  • Put some toys in their play yards so they need to move around to reach new items. This is all about developing motor skills and hand eye coordination, which are essential for walking.

2. Make Your Own Or Buy Activity Centers

While there are some awesome products for a portable activity center, these are not necessary for teaching babies how to walk. You can create your own over a toddler-table: read their favorite pop-up or touch-and-feel baby books or put a sensory bin on a stool, so they have to stand to play with it.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, it just should be safe and encourage proper development.

How Can I Help My Baby Learn To Walk

3. Walk With Caregiver

It might be uncomfortable for your back, but the best baby walker alternatives are old-fashioned and require no purchases: practice walking with your baby.

  • For early walkers, hold their hands and take a few steps together.
  • Let your baby walk a few steps into your open arms (and cheer them on, of course!).
  • Walk together, holding one of baby’s hands, especially for outdoor play over uneven terrain.
  • Let your baby walk on a flat, but soft surface, such as a carpet, beach sand or grass so that minor falls will be a little easier.

And, remember that there is a wide range when it comes to walking age: anywhere from 8 months to 14 months is normal for babies to take their first steps, so don’t feel that you need to rush this milestone; your baby will walk at their own pace, and then you will be chasing them everywhere!

Baby Walkers Are Bad – FAQ

While baby walkers are not currently banned in the USA, pediatricians recommend parents to NOT use wheeled baby walkers, due to the risks involved.

Thankfully, there are alternatives to baby walkers – or the option to allow your baby to learn how to walk the traditional way – by practicing crawling, lots of tummy time and pulling up on furniture. No gadgets are required to meet this important milestone – just patience and plenty of practice.

Is It Necessary To Use A Baby Walker?

Baby walkers are not required to help a baby learn to walk. Furthermore, they are unsafe and inked to many accidents invovling babies.

Babies have been learning to walk to millennia without the use of baby walkers, so don’t worry about your little one ‘being behind’ or learning to walk later than his or her peers with the absence of a baby walker.


Why Do Pediatricians Say ‘No Walkers’?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has requested for a national ban on baby walkers15 due to:

  • Number of injuries related to using baby walkers – including cases of drowning or serious head injury
  • Negative impact on baby’s developing muscles (calves, legs and pelvis)
  • Research shows that baby walkers actually impede proper walking techniques in babies.

Are Push Along Walkers OK For Babies?

Push walkers are a safe alternative to baby walkers, as long as your child has developed enough balance and control to take independent steps and they are not used on a second floor or around stairs16.

Once baby begins walking, they will probably have a few tumbles. This is normal, but you can reduce the number of bumps and bruises by being within arm’s reach of them.

Push walkers are different from baby walkers, because there is no seat: your infant stands up and pushes the wheeled base, much like the walkers used for elderly people – except, tiny and brightly colored, of course!

The purpose of this article is informative. It’s not a substitute for professional medical advice or medical care. Remember: safety first! Consult your doctor/pediatrician in case of any doubts. The author of this article does not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here.


About Me - Zooey BarnettHello Moms! I am Zooey. I am a wife and a mother of three amazing kids: almost 5-year-old Haley and 2-year-old twins Jesse and Matthew. I am a jogger, cooker and blogger.

If you have a question or a comment, do not hesitate to write to me! 🙂

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