The 6 Best Alternatives To Baby Walkers
Though you may have grown up using a baby walker yourself, there are now safer options for getting your baby ready to take their first steps. The best alternatives to baby walkers safely help strengthen their legs and encourage your little one to move, which is essential for walking. Some studies show baby walkers don’t encourage healthy walking in developing infants and can actually delay motor and mental development. The wheeled toys have also sent thousands of babies to emergency rooms.
Here’s what you need to know about safer alternatives for your mobile baby:
- Stationary activity centers may resemble walkers, but they’re far safer since they lack wheels. These are usually round with a seat for the baby in the center to access toys. The seat may be designed to swivel, and some activity centers even have adjustable heights on a platform to encourage bouncing and strengthening legs. Just keep in mind these do take up quite a bit of room with their size.
- Baby jumpers, sometimes called bouncers or exersaucers, are designed to get your baby safely jumping off the ground or an attached base. Stationary activity centers sometimes also double as baby jumpers.
- Push toys help a standing or cruising baby take supported steps. Look for one with a sturdy handle for small hands to grip while pushing that can be tightened or loosened as your toddler gets more comfortable walking. Push toys do have wheels, so you’ll want to keep a closer eye on your baby when it’s in use. If you’re tight on space and budget, push toys tend to take up the least room and are typically more affordable.
Though each type is intended to encourage movement, you’ll want to pay attention to the age minimum. Activity centers are usually appropriate for younger babies since they’re supported by a seat, while most push toys are recommended for age 1 and up since they need to be able to pull themselves up to standing. All babies develop at their own pace, so consult a pediatrician if you're not sure if your child is ready for these baby walker alternatives.
With all this in mind, below are the best alternatives to baby walkers.
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1. A Baby Activity Center That Grows With Your Baby
Parents love Skip Hop's baby activity center because this toy can be used by infants and toddlers since it has a convertible design. Place your infant as young as 4 months old in the swivel seat and they can bounce on the adjustable platform while playing with toys attached to the ring.
As your baby begins to cruise, they can stand on the outside of the stationary activity center to reach the toys. When your baby becomes a toddler, convert it to a table for coloring and other activities.
The activity center's seat swivels 360 degrees and is machine-washable. Movable toys include a squeaking cloud, swaying stars, a spinner, and a keyboard that lights up on the top ring or the platform (visible through a peekaboo window) to motivate your baby to move those feet. With a 4.8-star rating and more than 3,000 reviews, parents commented they love the high quality and easy maintenance of this pick.
Plus, an added bonus: The center's design is colorful enough to be attractive to babies but minimal enough to fit in better with your home's decor than most toys.
A helpful review: “My daughter has been using since 4 mo old. She had great neck and head control and could sit pretty good with support. I really think its helped her strengthen her legs and practice her balance. [...] The seat spins easily and the toys promote motor skills. They can also be great for teething baby as she loves to pull the cloud to her and chew on it ... Easy to sanitize. Great colors! I love that it grows with her too. I'm cheap so the fact it's like a 3 in one table makes the money worth it. Toys snap on in seconds and with ease. Easy for an adult to take off or move but not for baby. She's now 25-26 in long and we untied and let the foot base go to the original position and she fits perfect. I get lots of things done while she can play and watch me in this thing. Don't have to worry about her running around in it like her walker. Great investment.”
2. The Best Value: An Activity Center & Baby Jumper Under $100
Looking for a more affordable baby jumper? Try this Fisher-Price pick that doubles as a stationary activity center. The Jumperoo is springier then similar options, so your baby can really bounce in this one, and it has three height adjustments for a comfortable fit.
The machine-washable seat rotates 360 degrees for access to toys, including a soft butterfly and toucan your baby can bat at, a giraffe with a bead spinner, and a froggy teether.
The manufacturer does not provide an age minimum and instead advises using only with an infant who can hold up their head. Once your baby can climb out or walk, the manufacturer advises retiring the highly rated Jumperoo.
A helpful review: “My little one loves this jumper/activity set. The colors are bright and there are lots of toys for him to play with. He loves the music as well. Worth every penny and provides long periods of entertainment.”
3. A Portable Activity Center For Outdoor Play
This portable activity center is lightweight but sturdy, and it's designed to be used anywhere, but it's especially great for outside use. The stationary activity center/jumper protects your baby from the sun with a UV canopy for shade, and it folds down for storage into a convenient carry bag.
It's designed to allow and encourage bouncing while in the machine-washable seat, and reviewers report little ones can really jump in it since the harness is held in each corner by springs. Toys include a spinner ball, rattle, teether, and mirror book, and the seat can be adjusted for height to three levels.
It's designed for babies ages 6 to 12 months (or up to 25 pounds); keep in mind this pick's seat doesn't rotate.
A helpful review: “I have two children under two years old and my oldest absolutely loves to be outside. This chair has given me the ability to put my youngest in it and keep him entertained after several times of being in it. An added plus is that you can remove the little attachments that you already have on the seat and attach some other toys after a few months when baby starts getting tired ... From the teething log to the crinkly book and the teething rings in the rotating ball — I love the little mat that goes on the ground because I can put a blanket down if the grass is a little wet and chilly and at the beach I can put it on top of sand and not worry about it burning his feet. And the shade visor thing is amazing ... The portability is helpful too as we are going to the beach soon and we are going to utilize this every day.”
4. The Best Baby Jumper
For especially active babies, consider the best baby jumper. With no toys to distract your baby and a springy harness, your baby can really jump in this one. The Jolly Jumper is designed to improve your baby's balance, coordination, and rhythm while strengthening their legs.
While some baby jumpers attach to doorways, this standalone structure uses a 6-foot-tall sturdy frame that can be used indoors or outdoors. One reviewer reports that this is her 5 month old's "favourite thing in the world" and that "No one has ever been more happy than my baby is when she is in this jumper." Parents commented they also love that this jumper doesn't require tools for assembly and folds flat for storage.
The jumper's seat is designed to firmly support baby's spine and support correct posture, according to the manufacturer. Though it's unclear if the seat is intended to be machine-washable, reviewers report that it washes well. This jumper can be used for babies that can hold their heads up; once they're walking or hit 28 pounds, it's time to move on from the jumper.
A helpful review: “This is the best baby purchase I have made when it comes to entertaining my 5 month old son. We got it when he was 4 months old and after a couple of times using it he has really figured out how to jump like crazy and LOVES it. He seriously will jump for 20 to 30 minutes at a time and I don’t have to constantly be there keeping him busy. I like how portable the stand is and how easy it is to set up. The Velcro, clip and buttons make him feel very secure so I don’t mind the extra steps to put him in. He’s taking longer and better naps too! Awesome product, worth every penny!”
5. The Best Baby Push Walker On A Budget
The best baby push walker is highly rated with a whopping 14,000 reviews, and it's clear why parents continue to choose it. This affordable pick can be used from about 9 months to age 3, and reviewers report they love this toy for encouraging their babies to pull themselves up, stand, and walk.
The push toy's front panel is decked out in colorful buttons that appeal to babies. They make more than 70 sounds, including animal noises and songs, and they encourage learning shapes and colors. The toy panel is also removable for another way to play, and you can adjust the volume to high or low, or turn it off. A play phone fosters creativity and introduces pretend play.
The gripped handle is easy to hold onto, and the wheels work on both carpeted and hard floors. Caretakers can adjust the back wheels to one of two speeds to accommodate both early and steady walkers.
A helpful review: “Daughter has been using this since 11mo, but wish we had bought it earlier. She used it to help figure out how to walk (by 12mo), and still runs around with it at 17mo even though she is walking and running without support. I also like that the play panel on [the] front comes off, and it's super interactive... it's one of our daughter's favorite toys!”
6. A Cute Wooden Push Toy
If you'd prefer a non-plastic option, this Melissa & Doug wooden push toy is as cute as it is motivating for young walkers. Three chomping alligators make a click-clack sound when the walker is pushed, which is enough to encourage most babies to keep moving, but keep in mind you can't turn this sound off. Spinning beads with butterflies and ladybugs in the center of the toy are also fun for babies to play with, and the handle is easy to grab and comfortable to hold.
Use this push toy with babies age 1 and up. Though the wheels cannot be adjusted, a rubber strip around them keeps them from sliding, and reviewers report this makes them sturdy on wooden floors as well as a carpet or rug. Parents also commented they love how well made this toy is, and the chomping alligators appeal even to their 3-year-olds.
A helpful review: "We (but mostly our baby) loves this little walker! It's very high quality, feels sturdy to the touch/push and works quite perfectly. Our daughter was even enthralled by the twisty blocks half way of the handle. Early on she would sit and spin those for longer than she would stand and push the whole cart. Our daughter has been using this to walk around for almost four months now, well before she was walking on her own. So this provided her a practical and fun way to get up and start using her feet, learning to balance and practice walking. It's been fun to watch her slowly get more confident and begin to walk correctly (not on toes, feet pointed straight, etc)."