When Can a Baby Use a Walker?
When’s the best time for baby to start using a baby walker?
There is definitely some controversy about baby walkers and when baby can use a walker.
Most of the concerns about baby walkers are regarding modern sit in baby walkers which have been banned in Canada and can be dangerous for babies.
Concerns about baby walkers are primarily for 2 reasons. One that babies are suddenly mobile and much higher up than they would be otherwise which can, and it would seem frequently does lead to accidents including burns and scalds, falling down steps, crushing fingers, and pulling objects on top of themselves.
Secondly there is a misconception that being in a sit-in baby walker will help babies learn to walk. However, the design means that babies are actually not learning to balance, can't see their feet, are using different muscles to scoot than they need to walk, and may end up essentially hanging by the crotch for long periods which can be damaging to the development of the spine and hips.
Using a traditional push-along baby walker however encourages babies to sit and play, crawl, pull themselves up to standing, and gives stability while they are figuring out how to take their first tentative steps.
With this in mind while a modern sit-in baby walker shouldn't be used until your baby can sit unaided and touch the floor with flat feet (and then probably only for short periods - the NHS recommends 20 minutes). A push along baby walker can be introduced whenever you like providing you are there to supervise.
Letting your baby take the lead
Given the time and encouragement to develop their muscle strength and balance all babies will learn to walk, regardless of whether or not they have access to a baby walker. All they really need is enough time on the floor, learning to roll, then sit, crawl, and pull themselves up onto you or the furniture.
Just like baby walkers, a well-designed push along toy can be great for encouraging all these skills as well as helping build confidence and strength while they play.
If you choose an activity walker over a baby walker you can introduce this long before babies are walking as they will love to sit in front of it and practice their fine motor skills while they play. Having the walker there as part of their surroundings means they will naturally start to pull themselves up on it when they are ready to start standing.
Obviously, unlike a table or sofa, baby walkers don’t have wheels so you need to make sure you are there to stop it rolling away from them before they are ready. Although, that being said, the learning to walk process is always going to end up with plenty of falling over.
Do baby walkers affect development? We take a closer look.