How to buy the best baby walker
By Anna Studman
Pros and cons of buying a baby walker, plus important baby walker need-to-knows.
A baby walker is a seat with a tray table in a wheeled frame. Despite the name, they're not designed to help your baby learn to walk. They're there to provide your child with entertainment and mobility at a time when they might be starting to want to move about more.
The best baby walkers can be really useful, but mums and dads report differences in how easy it is to get their babies in and out of different walkers, how comfy their babies seem, and how easy/difficult certain baby walkers are to assemble.
Find out which are the best and worst baby walker brands.
How much do I need to spend on a baby walker?
The cheapest baby walkers typically start at around £25 and they can range up to £70 or more. If you are open to spending a bit more, before splashing out think about how much use your baby will get out of the walker (bearing in mind babies shouldn’t use a walker for more than 30 minutes at a time). If you want it to serve multiple functions, though (see ‘baby walker features’ below), it may be worth the investment.
Baby walker or baby bouncer
In our 2015 baby survey, we found that 45% of parents had bought or been given a baby bouncer during the first two years of their child's life, while 62% had bought or been given a baby walker. Both are designed to be used at the point when your baby is showing signs of wanting to be active, but is not yet ready to walk.
However, baby walkers were rated by parents as more useful than baby bouncers: the latter was rated as the least useful baby product in our survey.
Find out which products parents rate as essential for new parents in baby products you need.
Baby walker pros
- Baby walkers are a great means of allowing active babies to start exploring.
- Provided that you buy a recommended brand of baby walker, it should be straightforward to get your tot in and out of, provide good value for money and be easy to clean.
- Many baby walkers come with built-in toys, games, and even music and lights – so they'll provide a lot of entertainment for your baby.
- They also usually have tray tables, so you don't have to move your little one for feeding if they're happy where they are.
Baby walker cons
- Baby walkers are not recommended for more than 30 minutes' use at a time, so you can't let your baby roam around in their walker all day.
- While all new baby walkers should comply with strict safety standards, there have been concerns in the past over how safe baby walkers are. Follow our safety tips to find out how to use them safely.
Baby walker features and design
Baby walkers come with all sorts of bells and whistles. Most have in-built toys and some even have music and lights. Do check that you can swap all of this out for a plain, clutter-free tray if you plan to feed your baby while they’re in their walker or things could get messy.
Some baby walkers are multifunctional, doubling up as rockers, bouncers or jumpers. This is useful if you’re short on space and want one product to serve more than one purpose.
In terms of the design, think about how comfy it will be for your baby – does the seat have a good depth of padding? Is it height-adjustable? All these factors will make a difference to how much enjoyment your little one gets out of their walker, not to mention how much easier it makes life for you.
Baby walker safety
When buying a baby walker it’s important to check that it complies with British Standard BS EN 1273: 2005. The date is important (the last four digits are the year the standard was approved, in this case 2005), because that’s when more stringent safety requirements were imposed. Older walkers can tip over, and can be dangerous for your baby.
Once you get the baby walker home, follow these simple guidelines to make sure your little one has fun and stays safe:
- Never leave your baby unattended in a walker
- Never let your baby use the walker near steps, stairs or thresholds
- Confine use of the baby walker to one room at a time, keeping doors shut
- Check surfaces are flat and free of objects that may cause tipping over
- Be extra vigilant if allowing your baby to use the walker in the garden, especially as the surface – on a patio, for example – may be uneven and there could be extra hazards
- Make sure both your baby’s feet touch the floor. The seat height should be adjustable for this purpose
- Never carry the walker with your baby in it
- Avoid use near fires, stoves and radiators
- Always use the harness that comes with the walker
- Stop using the walker when your baby reaches the maximum weight recommended by the manufacturer
- Walkers are not suitable for babies who can't support their heads (before around six months) or who are already accomplished walkers
- Limit use to a maximum of 30 minutes at a time
- Remember your child will move much more quickly, particularly in a reverse direction, than when crawling