Baby Walking Toys: Get It or Forget It

Why is it that we moms can't wait to get our little ones walking? Here are some of my babies first steps! (I remember I had the same issue with crawling and I now I think "What was the rush? She's into everything!") We encourage with baby walking toys and lend a much needed finger for support. We take off the baby shoes knowing walking is easier in bare piggies.

While every baby will walk when they're ready, both physically and mentally, there are things you can do to help your child develop the gross motor skills needed to walk independently. I credit the push walker my daughter has been using for months with helping her gain the confidence to get up and go on her own two feet. So here's what to get and what to forget when it comes to reaching the walking milestone.

Push Baby Walkers

Fisher Price Stride to Ride Lion is not only sturdy for babies just trying out their legs, but it's still fun and entertaining for the experienced walker. Babies are rewarded when walking by the lights and music. I will say, like many walkers, it can be a challenge for babies to initially stand up while holding the lion, especially on hard surfaces. On hard floors, since the wheels are not rubber, the toy moves a little too quick for inexperienced walkers who may find it running away from them. For babies who find exploring the lion fun enough, pressing the nose offers a musical surprise. This walker easily converts to a ride on toy (you push or baby uses feet to scoot) by pushing the tail (seat/handle) down. Overall, I call this toy a GET IT!

The Step Start Walk 'n Ride walker is great for keeping a baby entertained, but it tends to look more fun than it is. Because of the rather odd construction, this walker poses more of a challenge for little ones who are just learning to walk. The close placement of the wheels makes it slightly unsturdy for babies who are relying on it for support. The wheels also seem to get in the way of the baby's legs when in the riding position. It's also not as simple as some of the other walkers on the market to switch into the riding mode. For that reason, I'd say FORGET IT!

Sit-In Walkers

Sit-in walkers were popular a generation ago, but now the American Academy of Pediatrics is strongly discouraging their use. So while the Safety 1st Sound N' Lights Activity Walker and many others are still on the market parents should know, according to the AAP these types of baby walking toys pose the potential for injury, specifically the danger associated with falling down the stairs. In addition, sit-in baby walkers make it easy for babies to "walk", which the AAP says delays the development of leg muscles needed to walk unassisted. I think there's enough evidence there to simply say FORGET IT!

Push Walking Toys

The Fisher Price Push Along Corn Popper is an oldie but goodie, that is still one of the most popular sellers when it comes to baby walking toys. The colorful balls that go "pop, pop, pop" are irresistible to young on-the-move toddlers. That being said, I would not recommend this toy for babies who are just starting to walk as it lacks a wide enough handle for two-handed support needed by inexperienced walkers. This is a definite GET IT!

Pull Walking Toys (For the Experienced Walker)

Pull walking toys are great for babies who've mastered forward walking. Pull toys like Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Frolicking Frog Pull Toy help improve coordination by encouraging walkers to turn around and look at what they're pulling, while still walking forward. Pull toys offer little or no support for babies so they should only be used with experienced walkers, but otherwise GET IT.

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