Walkers – Use and Safety Tips

Scarlett started using the walker about 10 days ago. She still doesn’t go anywhere in it except backwards at times. I know though that it won’t be long until she will be racing around the house in it. In case you’re wondering, it’s normal for a baby to go backwards first and then learn to go forwards. They seem to also do this when learning to crawl.
People have asked me if I think a walker really teaches a baby to walk or if it is just another useless piece of baby equipment that shops try to convince you that you need. Why get it if they will learn to walk anyway, right? I don’t think a walker teaches walking at all, but it does give you a place to put the baby where they can sit upright and move about on their own.
Babies need to explore, to move about, and they get frustrated and fussy if they are confined. To give you an example: Logan started using the walker early, at nearly 6 months old. He could barely touch the floor at the lowest setting, but as soon as he learned to move it on his own, he was off. He loved being able to move about on his own and follow me from room to room. He used to do this cute hop with both feet and got to where he could move the walker at lightening speed.

Logan didn’t crawl until he was 11 months old. During those months, he was happier in the walker than on the floor. He would get frustrated if he couldn’t move around and would fuss a lot. Of course I did put him down at times so he could learn to crawl, and he eventually did figure it out. I still used the walker for him until his first birthday; then he preferred crawling, and learning to stand so he didn’t need the walker any more.
For him, the walker made a difference. It kept him happy and gave him greater freedom of movement. I say walkers are useful; just don’t expect them to actually teach your baby to walk.

Some tips on walker safety:

– Never use them at the top of a staircase unless you have a safety gate in place, one that will be impossible for your baby to learn to open on his own. Make sure the gate swings toward you instead of down the stairs for extra safety. Even then, know where baby is at all times, just in case someone else was to leave the gate open.

– Make sure that if low cupboards are in the baby’s reach, they can’t be opened by little fingers, otherwise baby will open them out of curiosity and ram the walker into them, squishing his fingers. The same would apply to any room door when baby is in that room. You can always prop doors open, or else close them to keep baby out.

– If your walker doesn’t have an activity tray, you can tie some toys to it. Just make sure you use a strong piece of string, something that will be ok for baby to chew on (such as a tie from a pair of track pants), slip the toys on, and tie securely on the other side. Make sure the string is taut and that baby won’t be able to get it over his head; also make sure it is tied securly so that it won’t come undone.

– Make sure the walker is locked in position when you change the height level, otherwise it could collapse, injuring your baby.

– Your baby will be able to reach things they couldn’t before. Watch out for tablecloths (can be pulled down), electrical plugs (use large pieces of furniture to make inaccessable, or cover with special plastic inserts), and any furniture or ledges that would be at baby’s head level. Move up anything that you have on low tables that could be broken or that would be dangerous for baby to play with.

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