It is often thought that baby walkers are safe for babies to use, but there are actually great dangers that come with their use. They raise babies’ heights, allowing them to potentially reach dangerous objects or burn themselves on stoves and ovens.
They also increase speed and mobility in babies that may not actually be ready to walk yet.
The biggest risk with mobility is the potential for a fall down the stairs. Many babies are injured every year from injuries due to accidents like these.
They are trapped, unable to get out of the walker before they slip down the stairs. Most of the injuries are serious, with the baby either hitting her head on the stairs or the walker falling on her at the bottom.
With all of the injuries and risks associated with baby walkers, more parents and medical professionals are speaking out against their use, even calling for a ban against their manufacturing.
However, as a parent, you still want something to be able to place your baby in so that you can get a much-needed break. Thankfully, there are some alternatives to baby walkers that you can try.
Alternatives for Baby Walkers
Babies and parents love these alternatives to baby walkers for one main reason: they give babies a safe place to play on their own while giving mom and dad’s arms a break.
While there are still some things to consider before using one of these alternatives, they are ultimately safer than the traditional walker is and can be more beneficial for babies’ development.
1. Baby Jumper
At first glance, the jumper may seem similar to the traditional baby walker. There is the bucket seat and activity station, with toys that surround the baby to keep her entertained.
The main difference, however, is that the jumper is stationary.
This alternative is perfect for active babies who are unable to stand on their own. They can give their little legs exercise while keeping themselves entertained with colorful toys, lights, and sounds, depending on what the jumper model comes with.
One of the downsides to jumper stations is that, like baby walkers, they are difficult to store. They do not break down easily and are very bulky.
In addition, the shape of the seat, similar to the walker or activity center, does not entirely support your baby, so prolonged use may cause discomfort.
The jumper station is a great alternative to a baby walker. The design and feel is comparable, and the baby still has plenty of entertainment with the toys around her. The jumper station, however, has the added safety factor of being stationary, which means there is less risk for an accident.
2. Doorway Jumper
If you are looking for simplicity, the doorway jumper is a great choice.
The design is simple – a bucket seat suspended from a clamp – which makes it easily portable from room to room and a breeze to store when not in use.
Babies love it, too. There is typically more bounce with doorway jumpers than jumper stations, which makes it more fun for the adventurous baby. They also have more control of the bounce height and direction, and make even use their little toes to swing themselves around.
It is important to know that not every jumper fits every doorway. You will need to measure both the width and depth of your doorway before making a purchase to ensure that it will fit.
There are also few toy options with most doorway jumpers, which may have your baby losing interested after a shorter period of time.
The doorway jumper is a great way to give your active baby some much-desired exercise with all the bouncing she could dream of.
It also gives you peace of mind as a parent knowing that she is safe and confined in the same spot you left her.
3. Activity Center
Baby activity centers can come in many forms, but the most typical is the exersaucer. Its design is similar to both the baby walker and stationary jumper. The main difference is that there is typically a base to it.
Your baby still gets all of the entertainment she wants, but you do not have to worry about her going anywhere. It is also convenient for you, the parent, as they are typically fitted with a tray (surround by toys) that can double as a feeding station for snack time.
Unlike the jumper or walker, the activity center does not offer much in the way of exercise for your baby. Some exersaucer seats may have a little bit of bounce to them, but not enough to keep your baby moving or entertained.
Overall, the activity center is great for younger babies (at least 4 months of age – they should be able to hold their head up) who just want to put their feet on the ground and play with some toys. It may not be the best choice for older babies who want to move a bit more.
4. Push Walker/Toy
Once your little one starts getting more stable on her feet and starts to exhibit signs of serious walking, you can start looking into a push walker. These can come in many different forms, from rolling plastic activity centers to wooden carts.
Both types are fun for babies, and you can find one that is perfect your baby’s personality. There are some that come with lights and sounds, as well as buttons, mirrors, and peek-a-boo flaps, which can keep baby entertained to no end.
The walkers that are designed to look more like carts are great for those little ones who like to be on the go, as they can push their favorite toys and animals wherever they wish.
There are still great dangers that come with push walkers. You need to supervise your baby at all times when they are using them. Just like with baby walkers, there is the risk of falling down the stairs while using this toy, even though they are not confined to the seat of a walker.
Push walkers are great for the emergent walker. Babies can get in real walking practice, placing their full weight onto their legs, and they can still be fun, even after your baby has grown into a fully walking toddler.
5. Sit-to-Stand Toy
The best thing about a sit-to-stand walker can be boiled down to one word: versatility. It can still function as a push walker, but you do not need to wait until your baby is of walking age before you can use it.
With a sit-to-stand toy, you may have a few different options. Some come with removable activity centers that can be played with on the floor by babies that may only be at the sitting or crawling stage. There are others that can be converted from floor play to scooting (like a car), and then to walking.
Just like with the push walker, there is always the risk for a fall down the stairs if you are not watching your baby. These types of walkers are also often made of lightweight plastic.
This means that they are prone to toppling over on babies that are not quite ready to walk on their own. Unstable walkers tend to put their full weight onto the handles to either pull themselves up or propel themselves forward, both of which can cause the walker to roll away from them.
Out of all of the baby walker alternatives we have looked at, you will probably get the most use out of a sit-to-stand toy. They can be utilized from an early age, with their lights, sounds, and toys, and they can take your baby right through the walking stage and into toddlerhood while keeping them entertained.
Consider Safety when choosing alternatives to baby walker
You need to make sure your baby is at the appropriate developmental stage before using any of these baby walker alternatives. Improper or early use can lead to hip, neck, and back injuries in infants.
Make sure your baby can hold up her head and can sit (mostly) on her own before using any jumper or activity center. You also need to ensure that the height is adjusted appropriately, to a level where the baby’s feet can firmly touch the ground.
When using a standing or push walker toy, make sure your little one is stable on her feet for the most part and that the toy is sturdy. Children tend to put their full weight into the push handle, and improper care can lead to the toy rolling away or toppling over.
While baby walkers can be suitable for occasional use, the alternatives mentioned are typically safer and better for babies’ development. They are still able to give you a break while entertaining your growing, active little baby.
Did you enjoy our list? Share your thoughts with us, and pass this link along to other parents who may be looking for an alternative to a baby walker.