How to buy a walker
A walker buying guide
As your child gets older, he or she will progress from crawling to cruising and finally, to walking. There are a number of baby products that help your baby along this path, starting with baby jumpers and baby bouncers and going to infant and toddler walkers. As you select from the many walker designs available, focus on your child's experience with walking, a walker's safety features and whether a walker can accommodate your child as he or she grows.
>> Consider age-appropriate walker designs
The first consideration when thinking about how to buy a walker is your child's experience with walking. A baby's first walker should be an infant walker. These walkers are designed for a baby who's learning to stand on his/her own. They are seated walkers, so your baby can get used to standing safely. Most infant walkers operate with some sort of music when the infant moves around with the walker. After your baby stops moving, the music stops playing. This can stimulate your baby's curiosity, and eventually, he or she will start to associate the sound with moving the walker.
As your baby grows, the next type of walker to look at is a toddler walker. These are designed for young children who are ready to stand on their own. Many of the toddler walkers encourage toddlers to push an object to get around. This allows them freedom to let go of the walker and grab back on to balance themselves.
>> Consider safety features
A key concern about walkers is their safety. Regulations from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission governing walkers can help give you some peace of mind. For example, the CPSC requires that walkers must be wider than a standard doorway. They must also have a gripping mechanism to prevent the walker from going over the edges of steps. To ensure that the type of walker you buy complies with current CPSC regulations, shop for new walkers from trusted brands and retailers.
A specific safety feature to look for is an extra-wide base. This adds stability for your baby as well as helps to keep your baby's hands safe as he or she moves about.
As you consider walker designs, examine the safety features of the seats. You want a seat that allows you to strap your baby in snugly while at the same time remains comfortable.
Another safety feature of baby walkers to consider is the brakes. Although walkers give babies mobility and help them learn to walk safely, you should supervise your baby's early walking. There are times, however, when you'll need to turn your attention from your child to other tasks. Make sure that you can easily use a walker's brakes to keep your child in one place for your peace of mind.
>> Match the wheels to the floor
Be sure to think about the walker's wheels and the types of flooring in your home. Tile and vinyl flooring let walkers with smaller wheels glide across their surfaces easily. If you have a significant amount of carpeting, focus your shopping on walkers with larger wheels to make it easier for your child to get around.
>> Plan for growth
An adjustable-height walker design will let your walker adjust to your child's growth. Equally important is the walker's maximum-weight rating. The best walker to buy for you may be the one that has the widest weight range.
>> Consider walker accessories
Walker accessories can help keep a child stay busy and entertained.
Many baby walkers have toy attachments. These baby toys have varying levels of interactivity, such as having different noises, musical sounds, flashing lights and educational activities. Make sure that you can easily detach the toys for regular cleanings.
In addition to toy attachments, there are practical attachments to consider, such as tray attachments that have built-in compartments to hold baby bottles, sippy cups or snacks.
Knowing up front what you would like to see your child be able to access can help you determine how to buy a walker to suit your needs.
In addition, make sure the seat is easy to clean. Some walkers allow you to pull the seat out of the walker and throw it into the washing machine while others allow you to wipe the seat with a warm towel.