Are Baby Walkers Bad for Development? The Truth May Surprise You


If you’re a new parent, you might be wondering Are Baby Walkers Bad for Development? The short answer is: they might be.

As a new parent, you want to provide your baby with opportunities for healthy development and learning. However, some products on the market may do more harm than good. Baby walkers are a popular item for many parents, allowing babies who can’t yet walk independently the freedom of mobility and entertainment.

However, research shows that baby walkers can negatively impact development and even pose safety hazards. Before placing your baby in a walker, understand the potential risks and make an informed choice about what is best for your child’s growth and well-being. The truth about baby walkers may surprise you.

Baby walkers can give your child a false sense of mobility and independence, which can delay their development of crawling and walking. Additionally, baby walkers can be dangerous if your child is not supervised while using them.

So, while baby walkers might seem like a convenient way to keep your little one entertained,


What Are Baby Walkers?

Baby walkers, also known as activity centers, are devices designed to help pre-walking infants move around. They typically consist of a suspended seat surrounded by a rigid frame that rolls on the floor. The idea is that the walker gives babies mobility before they can walk on their own while also keeping them entertained with attached toys and activities.

While baby walkers aim to stimulate development and exploration in infants, there are some concerns regarding their safety and potential impact on reaching critical developmental milestones. ### Research on Baby Walker Safety

Several studies have found that baby walker use can lead to injuries from falls down stairs or collisions with objects. According to analyzes, baby walkers were associated with over 200,000 injuries in the U.S. from 1990 to 2002. Due to these risks, some organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics have called for a ban on their manufacturing and sale.

Impact on Motor Skill Development

Some experts argue that baby walkers can delay when infants learn to sit, crawl, and walk on their own. The supported seated position and mobility provided by the walker may discourage babies from developing the core and leg strength required for unaided walking. Studies have found that babies who spend time in walkers tend to start walking 1 to 2 months later than infants who did not use them.

While baby walkers are a popular product for many parents and infants seem to enjoy them, the risks to safety and development are important to consider. For many babies, time on the floor engaging with caregivers and toys is the best way to learn skills and stay out of harm’s way. If you do choose to use a walker, closely supervise your baby and limit time spent in the device.

The History of Baby Walkers

Baby walkers were first introduced in the early 1900s to help infants learn to walk. At the time, they were seen as an exciting new product that gave babies more mobility and independence at an earlier age. However, research conducted since then has revealed that baby walkers can potentially delay mental and physical development and may even pose safety hazards.

The History of Baby Walkers

Baby walkers became popular in the United States during the 1920s and were a common baby product for decades. They were designed to give infants support as they learned to stand, balance, and walk. The walkers allowed babies to move around freely before they had the strength and coordination to walk unaided.

While baby walkers were well-intentioned and meant to stimulate development, studies in the 1980s and 1990s found that they had little benefit and substantial risks. Researchers discovered that walker use was associated with a delay in mental development as well as motor skills like crawling, walking, and balancing without support. The walkers also posed dangers like increased risk of falls, injuries, and accidents.

Due to these findings, baby walkers are now banned or have warnings against use in many countries. However, some parents still utilize baby walkers, believing that with proper safety precautions and supervision, they can aid in development. The debate around baby walker use and safety continues, but most child development experts recommend avoiding their use due to the potential harm.

In summary, while baby walkers were once a popular product, research has shown that they can be detrimental to development and dangerous. For these reasons, baby walkers are not recommended for infants.

Are Baby Walkers Bad for Development
Are Baby Walkers Bad for Development

Are Baby Walkers Bad for Development?

Are Baby Walkers Bad for Development?

Baby walkers, also known as stationary walkers or activity centers, are controversial baby gear that many new parents question. While baby walkers may seem entertaining for babies and give parents temporary freedom, research shows they can negatively impact development and safety.

According to studies, baby walkers can delay mental and physical milestones. They restrict a baby’s natural movements and exploration, limiting opportunity for learning. Babies need floor time on their stomachs and backs to develop strength and coordination. Walkers inhibit this, and babies may skip crawling altogether, which is important for brain and muscle development.

Safety is also a concern. Numerous injuries and accidents have been linked to baby walkers, including falls down stairs, collisions, and finger entrapments. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advises against using baby walkers and has called for a ban on their manufacture and sale.

While some parents report that baby walkers gave them temporary hands-free time or entertained their baby, the risks to development and safety far outweigh any benefits. Parents should avoid using baby walkers and instead allow supervised floor time for exercise and exploring, using stationary activity centers only occasionally.

Providing opportunities for tummy time, crawling, and exploring the environment with parental interaction and supervision is the best way to support healthy development in babies. If walkers must be used, choose a stationary activity center and strictly follow all safety guidelines to minimize risks, though the AAP still does not recommend them.

In summary, baby walkers and stationary activity centers hinder development, delay milestones, and pose safety hazards. The best approach is to avoid using them altogether in favor of supervised floor time and tummy time for babies. While it may require more effort and time, it will give babies the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential.

Research on How Baby Walkers Affect Development

Research on How Baby Walkers Affect Development

According to several studies, baby walkers can negatively impact a child’s development. Studies show that babies who spend time in walkers may have delayed mental and physical development. ###

A study published in 2001 found that babies who used walkers sat, crawled, and walked later than babies who did not use walkers. The study followed 23 babies who used walkers and 21 babies who did not. On average, the babies who used walkers sat at 8 months old, crawled at 10 months, and walked at 15 months. The babies who did not use walkers reached these milestones earlier, at 7 months, 9 months, and 14 months respectively.

Additional research has found that walkers can discourage crawling, an important developmental stage. Crawling helps babies strengthen their muscles and improve hand-eye coordination. It also helps with depth perception and balance. Babies who skip the crawling stage may face delays in skills that rely on these developments.

There is also evidence that walkers can be dangerous if misused. Studies report numerous injuries from walker accidents each year in the U.S., especially from falls down stairs. The American Academy of Pediatrics has warned against using baby walkers since the 1990s due to developmental and safety concerns.

While walkers are designed to help babies walk, researchers suggest they can do more harm than good. For the healthy development of your baby, experts recommend skipping the baby walker and allowing your child to learn to sit, crawl, and walk naturally instead. Supervised floor time, baby gyms, and playpens are safer options that give babies opportunities to strengthen muscles and develop coordination at their own pace.

Potential Risks and Dangers of Using Baby Walkers

Baby walkers, while seeming convenient, pose several risks to an infant’s

development and safety. Studies show that babies who spend a lot of time in

walkers may have delays in mental and physical growth.

Muscle and bone development.

Extended time in a baby walker can negatively impact an infant’s muscle strength

and balance. The walker supports the baby’s weight, preventing crucial development of core and leg muscles needed for walking. This can delay the age at which a baby takes their first steps. Walkers also restrict a baby’s movement, preventing important exploratory behavior.

Safety hazards.

There are many risks of injury associated with baby walkers. The mobility provided by

walkers means babies can reach dangerous areas like pools, stairs, and kitchen appliances.

According to research, thousands of children receive emergency room treatment for walker-related

injuries each year in the United States, ranging from minor bumps to skull fractures.

Behavioral concerns.

Some studies indicate that extended time in walkers may lead to behavioral issues in toddlers,

such as aggression, dependency, and poor social skills. The walker inhibits a baby’s autonomy and

ability to interact with their environment in a natural way as they are learning to walk. This

could negatively impact development of independence and relationships.

While baby walkers are marketed as helping infants learn to walk faster, the risks far outweigh

any benefits. Most child development experts strongly advise against using baby walkers. For your

baby’s health, safety, growth, and development, walkers should be avoided in favor of supervised

floor time and other activities that encourage mobility and exploration. Your baby will learn to

walk when physically and developmentally ready.

Benefits of Baby Walkers Claimed by Some Parents

Some parents claim that baby walkers offer benefits for development and convenience. While walkers are not recommended for unsupervised use or as a substitute for tummy time and interacting with caregivers, proponents argue the following points:

Encourages mobility. Baby walkers give infants the freedom to move around and explore on their own before they can walk independently. This mobility and opportunity to navigate spaces in an upright position may help strengthen leg muscles and improve balance in preparation for walking.

Provides entertainment. Many walkers feature interactive toys, lights, music and other stimulation to keep babies engaged. The walker gives babies a new perspective to interact with their environment and objects around them. Some parents find that baby walkers can entertain infants for short periods, allowing the parent a chance to accomplish small tasks or simply have a break.

Develops motor skills. Walkers may help infants build skills such as stepping, spinning and maneuvering that will later translate to walking. The walker gives babies the ability to move from place to place, turn and change directions. Repeatedly performing these actions in the walker could strengthen motor pathways in the brain responsible for mobility and coordination.

Offers convenience. For some parents, baby walkers provide a convenient place to keep infants occupied and in one place. The walker contains the baby in an area where the parent can still supervise them while doing light housework or other tasks. Some walkers also have activity trays, snack trays and cup holders for additional convenience.

While some benefits of baby walkers are purported by advocates, many child development experts warn that the risks far outweigh any rewards. Walkers have been proven dangerous if misused and studies show they do not actually help infants learn to walk sooner. For healthy development, tummy time, interaction with caregivers and learning to crawl are far superior to time spent in a walker.

Alternatives to Baby Walkers for Babies

Once you’ve decided baby walkers are not right for your little one, you have several excellent alternatives to choose from that will keep them engaged and help develop their motor skills.


A simple playmat or activity gym is a perfect substitute for a baby walker. Place some engaging toys, rattles and other objects just out of your baby’s reach to encourage them to scoot, roll and eventually crawl over to interact with the toys. This helps build strength and coordination in a safe, controlled environment.

Stationary Activity Centers

Stationary activity centers, like jumpers, exersaucers and activity tables provide entertainment and exercise for babies without the mobility of a walker. These center the baby in one spot while giving them opportunities to spin, bounce, and swat at stimulating toys. Look for options with different textures, sounds and lights to keep babies engaged.

Push Toys

Once babies start pulling up and cruising along furniture, push toys are a great way for them to start walking while still having some support. Toys that play music or have other interactive elements will keep babies intrigued and motivated to keep moving. As balance improves, babies can start maneuvering these toys on their own.


For very mobile babies, gates are essential for keeping them out of areas that aren’t baby-proofed. Gates allow babies some freedom to roam and explore in a confined space while also keeping them safe. Look for gates with small slats so fingers don’t get caught, and that are tall enough babies cannot easily scale them.

With patience and the proper baby gear, you can give your little one opportunities to build motor skills and strength without relying on a baby walker. Focus on interactive toys and activities, give babies spaces they can freely explore, and keep safety in mind. Before you know it, your baby will be cruising, and then walking, all on their own!

Tips for Using Baby Walkers Safely if You Choose to Use One

If you do choose to use a baby walker, there are several tips to keep in mind for using one safely:

Supervise Your Baby at All Times

Never leave an infant unattended in a baby walker. Always keep a hand on the walker when baby is moving around to steer them clear of potential hazards like stairs, corners or table edges. Watch out for objects on the floor that could pose choking or tripping hazards. Constant supervision and guidance are key to preventing accidents.

Use Safety Gates to Block Stairways and Restrict Access

Install safety gates to block stairways or restrict access to certain areas. Gates will contain the baby walker to one level of the home and prevent tumbles down the stairs. They also limit access to rooms with potential dangers like fireplaces, pools or electrical outlets.

Choose a Walker with Brakes, Non-Skid Pads and Seat Belts

Select a baby walker that has brakes or locking mechanisms for the wheels, non-skid pads on the bottom to prevent slipping and a seat belt or harness to keep baby securely in place. These safety features provide more control and stability for the walker and prevent falls or ejection from the seat.

Remove Walkers by 12 Months of Age

Most experts recommend removing baby walkers by the time an infant reaches 12 months of age. At this stage, babies are becoming increasingly mobile and adventurous. They can start walking, climbing and moving at faster speeds, increasing the risks of accidents in walkers. It is best to transition to stationary activity centers or play yards once baby starts walking.

Never Use a Walker as a Substitute for Supervision or to Keep Baby Contained

A baby walker should never be used in place of close parental supervision or as a way to restrict an infant’s movements for your convenience. Constant monitoring and interaction with baby during time in the walker is essential for their healthy development and safety. Your baby’s wellbeing should be the top priority.

FAQ – Answering Common Questions About Whether Baby Walkers Are Bad for Development

Are Baby Walkers Harmful to Development?

Baby walkers, also known as activity centers, have been a popular product for entertaining infants and helping them learn to walk for decades. However, in recent years studies have questioned whether baby walkers might actually impede development or even pose safety risks. Many parents have understandable concerns about whether baby walkers are bad for development.

Research has found that babies in walkers may learn to walk later. Infants can become dependent on the walker and may not work to strengthen their leg muscles and balance in the same way as infants not using a walker. Some studies show infants in walkers took their first steps around two weeks later, on average, than infants not using walkers. However, the long term impact on development seems to be minimal.

Safety is also a concern, as walkers have been associated with increased risk of injury from falls or collisions. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has warned against using baby walkers due to safety issues and lack of proven benefits. Many walkers can fit through doorways and are unstable, allowing babies to reach areas and objects that may not be safe. The AAP recommends stationary activity centers as a safer alternative.

  • Do walkers delay walking? Some studies show a small delay, but long term impact seems minimal. Stationary activity centers may be a safer choice.
  • Are walkers unsafe? Yes, walkers pose risks like falls, collisions and access to unsafe areas/objects. The AAP recommends against using baby walkers.
  • What are the alternatives? Stationary activity centers, play mats, Jumpers and bouncers can entertain babies without the risks of walkers.

While baby walkers aim to help development and provide entertainment, safety and developmental concerns have led many experts to recommend alternative products without the risks associated with walkers. With close supervision and in moderation, baby walkers are unlikely to cause permanent harm. However, for optimal development and safety, stationary activity centers and supervised floor time are better options. Parents should weigh the pros and cons and make the choice that is right for their situation.


So in summary, while baby walkers may seem like an easy way to keep your little one entertained, the risks to their development and safety far outweigh any benefits. Your baby’s growth and wellbeing should be the top priority, not their amusement or your convenience. Their mobility will develop in time, but that time is not replaceable if their development is hindered. You have a responsibility as a parent to make the best choices for your child to set them up for success in life, even if that means avoiding shortcuts. Your baby will be mobile before you know it, so cherish the early days and be patient through the challenges. Their healthy development into toddlerhood and beyond will be worth it.