This video by The Practical Child discusses some of the positives and negatives of the two main types of baby walkers available to purchase.
If you can’t watch the video, here is a transcript of what’s discussed:
Hello, and welcome to the practical child. My name is Kirsty and I’m a children’s physiotherapist. Today we’re going to have a look at baby walkers. This is something that parents often ask us about. To start with there are two main types of baby walker, the sit in style and the push along style.
Sit in style walkers
The sit in style often involves a sling that the child sits which then allows them to scoot along with their feet while staying sitting in the sling. With this certain style, there is some evidence to suggest that it can actually delay independent walking. Because the child is in a sitting position and then don’t have to take all of their weight through their legs, it can encourage an abnormal foot position and some abnormal weight bearing. There can also be a tendency to use it far too early, long before a child would normally be able to stand or walk.
The sling position can also encourage the hips to be quite wide. And as the child is sitting and is fully supported by the sling, this does not help to develop their balance. There have also been some instances of the sitting style proven to be quite dangerous.
However, on the positive, it can be really fun. A lot of babies love being in these walkers. It gives them the independence to move around, when they wouldn’t be able to and as a result, it can help to reduce some of their frustration. This video shows some of the abnormal foot positions that you can get to using this style of Walker.
Push along walkers
The other style of walker is the push along walker. With this style of walker the child has to stand and walk by themselves using the handlebar of the walker for balance and a little bit of support.
Again, looking at the pros and cons, it can be quite difficult to turn or change direction. Using this style of walker as the wheels rarely swivel. They can often also require more adult help. If the Walker is quite light, it can sometimes pit backwards and can also be too fast.
However, on the positive as the child is doing all the standing and walking themselves, this does promote independent walking. It also helps to ensure a better position and weight bearing as well as a good hip position. This type of walker can also help with balance development and allows the child to move freely away from the walker when they feel ready to try taking a step by themselves.
If you have this style of walker that usually comes with some bricks or toys in the tray part, you can take them out and put the heavier toys or books in the tray part to help slow it down and stop it from tipping backwards. However, they will still need close adult supervision.