The baby walker was invented to help babies along as they learn how to take their first steps. The fact that there’s a painting with Mary and Joseph hard at work while baby Jesus is occupying himself in a walker, shows you it’s been a must for families for centuries. Thankfully they’ve evolved over the years but the style of the modern baby walker is very recognizable today. There’s a seat, wheels fitted to a frame and a tray with a few moveable toys, all meant to keep baby’s attention and get them interested in learning to walk on their own.
For the parent why use a walker? It allows you to use your arms and hands again and gives you a glimpse of freedom. You’re free to move around without a baby attached at the hip. Now your home is your oyster. There’s a lot more you can get done now that baby is occupied. But placing your baby in a walker doesn’t give you cart blanche to do whatever you choose. With every privilege comes responsibility. You must be aware that your baby can get injured in a walker if you’re not mindful and don’t use your walker properly.
In a nutshell, there’s two factors that you as the parent have to take into account when baby is in their walker: 1) they are now on wheels. They can get around a little easier than before, and much faster 2) the walker provides height. Your baby might be able to reach things that they aren’t able to out of the walker. This is why only 50% of parents across the globe opt to use a walker for their child. The nerves can be real.
So is it right to use a walker or no? Personally I feel like deciding to or not to use a walker is like choosing what religion you want your kids to follow. It’s up to you the parent. Ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish with the walker. What’s your intent? Do you work from home or need to get a few things done and your child is at the right age and development stage for a walker? Then go for it. Some young babies with conditions that alter their ability to walk properly, need the use of a walker to give their legs time to develop and to get used to walking. In this case as a parent you would be deemed wrong for not using a walker to help your child in their development. Whatever your decision, if you opt in, here’s somethings to think about long before you put baby in the walker seat.
Make sure you’re in the right environment for the walker.
Make sure the room is already baby-proofed. Go through our baby-proofing check list and make sure you’e prepared the room for baby. If not and there’s an abundance of sharp items and edges then maybe that isn’t a good area for them to use the walker in. Same for if there’ stairs or if you’re outside. Like a front porch or driveway or near a pool, these aren’t good environments for walkers.
Check for and remove heavy, hazardous items they can grab from the shelves. You have to consider that they might gain access to things that were out of reach before.
Use your walker time wisely. They will not want to get in if they feel like their always just left there. Keep a set amount of time and get what you need done. Every child is different but no more than 20 minutes in a walker at a time. Think about it, being in one seat for more than that would be uncomfortable for anyone even if it did allow you to roll across the living room.
I was one of those work from home moms that needed my arms free and at the time our son loved the walker, so we used it. And we used until he didn’t like it anymore. But it allowed me to get a few things done during the day. I could take 20 minutes and get a conference call done or make myself a real meal. I learned how to use my walker in a way that benefited the both of us. Now my irritation with our baby’s walker came when it crossed paths with my feet. The bottom plastic edge literally scraped me and I thought I had crossed paths with a razor. I didn’t want to stop using my walker but then also I never wanted to feel that pain again. As a solution we wrapped a rubber strip around the bottom. Little did we know we were starting to create a product other parents would need and appreciate.
Check out how the idea has evolved into Mr. B’s Baby Bumper here.
To those parents that say, Why not just use a carrier if you want to go hands free at home? Ever heard of attachment issues? Hey, I’m for carriers and for using them at home. We used one ourselves. Once I got the hang of putting it on, it was so great when I had to feed our little one and didn’t want to be couch locked. The Boba wrap was our brand of choice. Honestly, there was a bit of a learning curve. But after watching a youtube video about 20 times on repeat I got the hang of it. And after using it a few times it became the easiest thing. But I don’t recommend using all of the time. There has to be a balance. Having your child attached to you for 70% of your day is not healthy and will create some attachment issues on someones part, either for you or your baby.
As with any parenting decision, do what works for your child and your specific situation. If you need free hands for a certain part of the day, make that your walker-time routine. A baby walker and carrier are like tools. A tool can work for some and others find they don’t need it. They would rather do life without picking up the tool. Just know this, from the age of 5-15 months a baby walker is a tool that’s in your parent toolbox, if you pick it up is all up to you.
What do you think about a walker for a baby? Is it something that helps(ed) you? What’s your favorite toy or items to keep your babies engaged while you try to get something done? Leave us a comment or give us your feedback on what you read or what you’d like for us to discuss in our next blog post.