Baby Walker Pros and Cons: Helping or Hindering Development?


As a new parent, you want to provide your baby with opportunities for growth and learning. You may have heard about baby walkers and wonder if using one could help encourage your little one to walk independently at an earlier age.

However, before rushing out to purchase a baby walker, it is important to understand the potential pros and cons to determine if a walker is right for your child’s development. While walkers may seem like an easy way to keep babies entertained, they can also pose risks. By evaluating the benefits and drawbacks, you can make an informed choice about whether a baby walker will truly help or hinder your baby’s progress.

Baby Walker Pros and Cons
Baby Walker Pros and Cons

Baby Walker Pros and Cons: Helping or Hindering Development?

What Is a Baby Walker?

A baby walker is a device that provides babies support while learning to walk. It typically consists of a suspended seat surrounded by a rigid frame that moves on wheels or slides. The baby is placed in the seat, and is able to walk while pushing the walker.

Baby walkers aim to help infants, usually between 5 to 15 months of age, strengthen their leg muscles and improve balance and coordination as they learn to walk. However, there is an ongoing debate regarding the benefits and drawbacks of baby walkers.

On the one hand, baby walkers provide entertainment and mental stimulation for babies through the mobility and interactive toys they offer. They also give babies independence and help them build confidence as they start moving around on their own. The upright position in the walker may also help with development of leg strength and motor skills.

On the other hand, there are concerns about developmental delays, safety issues and hindering natural development. As babies can move rapidly in walkers, there is a risk of falls, collisions and finger entrapments. Walkers may also delay mental and physical milestones as babies spend less time on the floor exploring in the early stages of development. The upright position can put extra strain on legs that are not ready to support a baby’s weight for long periods.

Given the potential benefits and risks, many child development experts recommend limiting or avoiding the use of baby walkers. Close supervision, creating a safe environment, and not using walkers as a substitute for tummy time or interaction can help reduce risks. However, natural development and lots of floor play are considered the best options for learning to walk.

The Pros of Using a Baby Walker

The Pros of Using a Baby Walker

While baby walkers remain controversial, many parents do find benefits to using one with their infant. The most obvious pro is that baby walkers can encourage mobility and help babies strengthen their leg muscles before they are ready to walk independently. The walker gives babies the ability to get around on their own without parental assistance, allowing them a sense of independence and the opportunity to freely explore their environment.

For some babies, the entertainment and stimulation provided by the walker’s attached toys help aid in cognitive and motor skill development. The walker may temporarily distract or soothe a fussy baby, giving parents a short respite. Some walkers now offer additional features like music, sounds, and flashing lights which many babies find amusing and engaging.

Another benefit cited by some parents is that baby walkers allow for safe, contained mobility. The walker can limit access to certain areas and avoid potential dangers like sharp table edges, electrical outlets, and other household hazards. With the use of safety gates and close supervision, baby walkers may provide restricted movement for babies not yet ready for full mobility on their own.

While there are some advantages to baby walkers, there are also significant disadvantages and risks to consider regarding a baby’s development and safety. As with any device used for infants, proper precautions and close monitoring are essential. For some babies, the benefits of mobility and entertainment that walkers provide may outweigh the potential downsides, but parents should evaluate their own situation and baby’s needs carefully before using one.

The Cons of Using a Baby Walker

The Cons of Using a Baby Walker

While baby walkers may seem convenient, there are some significant downsides to consider before purchasing one.

First and foremost, baby walkers can be dangerous. According to research, over 8,000 children are treated in emergency rooms each year in the U.S. for injuries related to baby walkers. The most common injuries are falls down stairs, collisions with furniture, and finger entrapment. Tragically, some infant walker accidents have even resulted in death. For safety, many experts recommend not using a baby walker at all.

Secondly, baby walkers can hinder your child’s development. Walkers prevent babies from crawling, cruising, and walking on their own timeline. Crawling, in particular, is crucial for developing motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and muscle strength. While walkers may seem to help babies walk sooner, studies show they can actually delay walking independently. They also limit opportunities for sensory and cognitive development that come from exploring the environment.

Another downside is that baby walkers don’t actually help babies learn to walk. While in a walker, babies move in an unnatural upright position using their toes, rather than learning the proper heel-to-toe walking motion. The wheels on walkers also move differently than human legs and feet. Most experts agree that walkers do not provide any benefits for learning locomotion skills.

In summary, due to the risks of injury and developmental delays, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advises against using infant walkers. Allowing babies to learn to move on their own timeline through crawling, cruising, and walking with assistance from parents is the safest way to promote healthy development. If you do choose to use a walker, be extremely vigilant and follow all safety precautions to minimize risks. But for your baby’s wellbeing, it may be best to avoid them altogether.

Do Baby Walkers Help or Hinder Development?

Do Baby Walkers Help or Hinder Development?

Baby walkers, also known as activity centers, are a popular baby product for many parents. However, there is an ongoing debate about whether baby walkers help or hinder a child’s development. Some studies have found that baby walkers can delay mental and motor development in babies.

On the one hand, baby walkers provide babies entertainment and exercise. The walker gives babies mobility and freedom before they can walk on their own. This can help strengthen leg muscles and provide mental stimulation. The walker also gives babies an opportunity to play with different toys attached to the walker, helping develop hand-eye coordination and cognitive skills.

On the other hand, some research has found that baby walkers can be detrimental to development. Since babies can move around quickly in walkers, there is a risk of falls or collisions with objects that can lead to injuries. Walkers also do not help babies learn how to balance, cruise, or walk on their own. Studies have found that babies who spend a lot of time in walkers may have delayed walking by up to one month.

Some key points to consider regarding baby walker use and development:

  • Limit time spent in the walker. Only use the walker for short periods, around 10-15 minutes at a time. Too much time can delay walking.
  • Supervise the baby at all times. Never leave a baby unattended in a walker. This avoids the risk of falls, injuries or accessing hazards.
  • Encourage walking without the walker. Spend plenty of time helping the baby practice walking while holding your hands. This helps build balance, coordination and walking skills.
  • Choose a walker with extra safety features. Look for a walker with brakes, seat padding, and no sharp edges. These features reduce injury risk.
  • Watch for milestones. If a baby is not cruising, standing or walking by 18 months, talk to their pediatrician. Delayed walking can sometimes indicate a developmental issue.

In summary, while baby walkers provide entertainment and exercise for infants, they do not teach babies to walk. When used properly and in moderation, baby walkers are unlikely to cause permanent harm. However, it is best to limit time in walkers and encourage walking without assistance. With supervision and by following safety guidelines, baby walkers can be used constructively as part of a baby’s development.

Safety Concerns With Baby Walkers

Safety should be a top priority when considering a baby walker for your child. Several concerns exist regarding the use of these devices.

Falls and Injuries

Baby walkers can lead to falls and injuries as children gain mobility before developing balance and coordination. Studies show that walker-related injuries account for a large percentage of injuries to infants. Falls down stairs are a major hazard, as walkers give babies access to stairways before they are developmentally ready. Walker-related injuries also include fractures, burns, and finger entrapments.

Developmental Delays

Some research indicates that baby walkers can cause developmental delays in infants. Walkers restrict a baby’s movement and do not allow them to crawl and explore freely. Crawling is important for developing motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and balance. Babies in walkers may miss out on these developmental benefits.

Access to Hazards

Baby walkers give infants access to potential hazards before they can comprehend dangers. Walkers allow babies to reach kitchen appliances, cords, small objects, and other unsafe items that can cause injury. Constant supervision is required to prevent accidents and ensure safety.

Overall, while some parents find baby walkers convenient, the risks to development and safety are considerable. Many experts recommend skipping the baby walker altogether. Stationary activity centers and jumpers are safer alternatives that provide similar benefits for entertainment and exercise.

If you do choose to use a walker, select a model that meets current safety standards, with features like grips to prevent falling down stairs, wide bases for stability, and mechanisms to prevent finger entrapments. But no walker can prevent all accidents, so close supervision and safety precautions are always necessary to minimize risks. For the wellbeing of your baby, consider if the potential dangers of baby walkers truly outweigh the benefits.

Alternatives to Traditional Baby Walkers

Alternatives to Traditional Baby Walkers

Rather than using a traditional baby walker, there are several alternative options that provide mental and physical stimulation for infants while supporting healthy development. These options mitigate the risks posed by walkers, such as falls, injuries, and delayed walking.

Stationary Activity Centers

Stationary activity centers provide a safe area for babies to sit, spin, bounce, and play. These centers stimulate leg movement and core strength needed for walking without the danger of falls or collisions. Some options include:

• Exersaucers: Seated activity centers with bouncing bases, spinning seats, and surrounding toys to bat at and manipulate. These help build leg strength and balance.

• Jumpers: Harness-style seats that attach to doorways or stand-alone frames. These allow babies to jump and bounce while developing leg muscles.

• Play mats: Large padded mats with arches that have hanging toys, mirrors, and other manipulatives. These encourage tummy time, reaching, grasping, and eventually crawling in a protected space.

Push or Activity Toys

Toys that babies can push or walk behind provide opportunities for supported walking. Some options include:

• Activity walkers: Walkers with a wide, sturdy base and surrounding toys for babies to grip and push. These help build walking skills in a stable, controlled manner.

• Push toys: Toys with handles that babies can grip to push and walk behind. These teach balance, coordination, and the foot-eye skills needed for independent walking.

• Ride-on toys: Toys babies sit on and push along with their feet. These strengthen leg muscles and balance in a fun way.

By avoiding traditional baby walkers and instead choosing stimulating and supportive alternatives, you can encourage your baby’s development while maximizing safety and minimizing health risks. The options above create opportunities for exercise, play, and learning key skills that will translate to independent walking when your baby is physically and cognitively ready.

Setting Up a Safe Environment for Your Baby

Providing a secure environment is essential for your baby’s development. As your baby becomes more mobile, it is important to prepare your home accordingly. Some key steps to take include:

Remove Hazards

Conduct a thorough safety check of your entire home, removing any potential hazards. Pick up small objects like coins, marbles, toys with small parts, etc. that could present a choking risk. Use safety locks to secure cabinets and drawers where dangerous items are stored. Place corner and edge bumpers on tables, counters, and other hard surfaces.

Use baby gates

Install baby gates to block stairways or restrict access to certain areas. Baby gates provide an effective barrier and help prevent falls down stairs or entry into unsafe places. Mount gates in doorways or use freestanding gates. For the top and bottom of stairs, use pressure-mounted gates. Make sure any gate you choose is properly installed and the correct width for your particular doorway or stairway.

Place down soft flooring

Cover hard floors in main living areas with carpeting, rubber mats, foam or rubber floor tiles, or other soft, padded flooring. This provides a softer landing surface in case your baby falls over. Foam puzzle piece floor mats with non-slip backings are ideal for this purpose.

Keep diaper changing table secure

Take extra precautions with diaper changing tables, dressers, and other high surfaces. Always keep one hand on your baby during changes to prevent falls. You can also install diaper changing table straps or use changing table bumpers for added safety. Secure heavy pieces of furniture to walls to prevent tip-overs.

Monitor your baby at all times

Constant supervision and monitoring is the best way to ensure your baby’s safety. Never leave an infant unattended during bathing, changing, or any other activity. Baby walkers, in particular, require constant supervision since they can easily maneuver into unsafe situations or areas. Always keep your baby in eyesight to avoid accidents and prevent potential injuries.

By taking proactive steps to baby-proof your home, setting up soft flooring, using safety gates, securing heavy furniture, and closely supervising your baby, you can create an environment conducive to safe exploration and development. Make safety a priority and your baby will thrive in a secure, nurturing space.

Recommendations for Introducing Mobility

When your baby is ready to start moving around on their own, a baby walker may seem like an appealing option to help encourage mobility and independence. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind regarding baby walkers and your child’s development.

Only Use a Walker Occasionally and Under Close Supervision

While walkers may seem amusing to babies, they should only be used occasionally and under very close adult supervision. Babies can move around quickly in walkers and lack the coordination to avoid obstacles or change direction efficiently. This can lead to collisions, falls, and other injuries. Constant walker use can also delay walking by discouraging crawling and cruising along furniture. Limit walker time to 10-15 minutes, a couple times per week at most.

Choose a Walker Carefully Based on Your Baby’s Age and Size

If you do decide to use a baby walker, choose one carefully based on your child’s age, size and development. Walkers for younger or smaller babies should have extra safety features like wider bases, grips or stops to prevent falls down stairs, and padded frames in case of collisions. For older babies, look for a walker with activities or toys to keep them engaged, but avoid excess bells and whistles that could be distracting. Height adjustment and recline options are also useful as your baby grows.

Focus on Alternatives to Build Mobility Skills

Rather than relying on a walker, focus on alternative activities that build your baby’s mobility skills in a safe, engaging way. Place toys just out of reach to encourage crawling and cruising. Once your baby is standing, hold their hands to help them walk, then slowly provide less support as they get steadier. Play games like follow the leader. Most of all, give your baby plenty of floor time to practice new skills at their own pace.

With close supervision, occasional short-term walker use likely will not cause lasting harm. However, walkers are not necessary for development and alternatives can stimulate mobility in a safer, more engaging way. Every baby develops at their own pace, so avoid comparing them to others and have patience through the learning process.

Baby Walker Pros and Cons FAQ

Baby walkers, also known as activity centers, are controversial baby gear. Some parents swear by them, while others warn against using them. Before deciding whether or not to use a baby walker, consider the following pros and cons:


  • Entertainment and stimulation. Baby walkers provide stimulation through sounds, lights and activities that many babies find entertaining and engaging. This can give parents a chance to accomplish other tasks while the baby plays.
  • Encourages mobility. Baby walkers allow infants who can sit up on their own but aren’t quite walking yet the opportunity to move around and practice walking motions. This can help build leg strength and balance in preparation for walking independently.
  • Gives parents a break. The entertainment and mobility factors of baby walkers mean that parents can have a temporary reprieve from constantly engaging with or carrying the baby. Parents can do chores, shower or simply rest while the baby plays in the walker.


  • Delayed walking. Some research studies have found a link between baby walker use and slightly delayed onset of independent walking. The walker may discourage babies from practicing walking on their own.
  • Safety hazards. Baby walkers have been associated with increased risk of injuries, especially from falls down stairs, collisions with furniture or other items that can lead to head injuries and fractures. Close supervision and safety precautions are required to prevent injuries.
  • Hinders exploration. Baby walkers restrict a baby’s ability to freely explore their environment by crawling and interacting with the floor. This exploration is important for development.
  • Requires supervision. Due to the risks of injury and developmental delays, baby walkers should only be used under close adult supervision. This limits the opportunity for parents to accomplish other tasks.

In summary, while baby walkers aim to stimulate and entertain infants, they also pose safety risks and potential developmental impacts that require consideration. For some families, the benefits may outweigh the risks with proper precautions taken. For others, it is not worth the risk to development and safety. The choice is a personal one that depends on each family’s situation and values.


After weighing the pros and cons, it’s important for parents to make their own informed choice about using a baby walker. While walkers may seem appealing in providing mobility and entertainment for infants, the potential developmental delays and safety hazards are risks that can’t be ignored. For some parents, the benefits outweigh the costs. For others, traditional floor time and other activities are better alternatives.

Ultimately, you know your baby and situation best. Do thorough research on the latest walker models and safety standards to determine if a walker is right for your family. And if you do choose a walker, be sure to closely supervise your baby during use and follow all instructions to minimize risks. Your baby’s development and safety should be top priorities. With the right choice and precautions, a baby walker can be fine. But traditional floor time and other activities may stimulate your baby in ways a walker simply can’t match.