Best baby walkers: Sit
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There are many milestones in the early years of a baby's life but none are quite so exciting for parents as when they take their first steps. For navigating those difficult transitions – from sitting to standing; standing to cruising and finally cruising to walking, many parents choose to invest in a baby walker.
Although there's no evidence that they will make your baby walk quicker, lots of parents find walkers a great way to engage their little one as well as helping with things like confidence building and support.
There are traditional walkers (which babies hold on to and push along), which are also ideal for encouraging them to pull up and stand. Or you might choose to invest in a "sit-in"’ walker or a multi-functional model, which can double up as an activity station and be used from sitting age (usually around six months).
There are a few different factors to consider when purchasing a walker. One is practicality: are you looking for a model that is beautifully designed or one that has a myriad of different functions? Second is size: some models can be bulky so it's worth bearing this in mind if you only have a small playroom. Finally, longevity is an important consideration too.
Some traditional walkers may be cast aside once your baby is a confident walker but if you want something that lasts, some models can be converted so they remain useful right through the toddler stage.
Whichever model you choose, it's important to note that all the walkers in this round-up require parental supervision and you should never leave babies alone with their walker. In turn, the NHS recommends only using walkers for around twenty minutes per day. With all that in mind, we recruited a team of parent and baby testers to trial the latest models and have rounded up eight of the best.
This is so much more than a traditional walker and is ideal if you’re looking for something multi-functional. It can be used from six months upwards and we found it perfect for those wanting to manage all those different baby transitions. First up, the seat function attached to the activity table is a good fit for those who aren't quite walking. The seat can be adapted as your little one grows and the activity functions are incredibly varied: there's everything from musical piano keys (which light up and introduce babies to colours and animals in three different languages) to a range of sensory toys which are great for promoting fine motor skills.
This also comes with wheels so it can be used as a sit-in walker as babies become more confident (they can use the walker to rotate around the table's different activity stations) which then detaches to form a stand-alone art table for toddlers and older children. When not sitting, the height of this table is ideal for helping babies pull up to stand and the clever distribution of activities really encourages them to cruise around the outside of the discovery centre to build their confidence. If you’re looking to invest in one new item for your baby or toddler's playroom, we would definitely recommend this one. Not only is it great in building confidence but its versatility means it can be used for years and years.
Best: For fun design
This can be used from six months old to three-years-old and offers a variety of different features. The first stage is to sit next to the elephant and use it as a toy (it comes with light-up buttons to press, sounds, sensory activities and a ball game). It can then be used as a walker by holding on to the bar behind the elephant's ear. There are two clever features that we thought made this walker great: first, its two height settings and secondly, the two different speed settings; meaning you can set it to a quicker speed when you’re using it as a walker and a slower one when your toddler graduates to the sit-on function at around sixteen-months-old.
Best: For sturdiness
Suitable from 12 months onwards, this wooden walker ranked highly in sturdiness and engagement. It consists of a wooden frame and 30 pastel blocks (with child-friendly paint should your baby decide to gnaw on one) which can be stored in the walker or used without it for older children.
We liked the variety of the blocks, as they are a great way to teach little ones about shapes. Our tester noted how much her baby loved using the blocks to build different towers (and of course knock them down!). The bar encourages children to pull themselves up and hold their weight and it feels sturdy and secure when supporting walking. We felt this really supported our baby with building confidence and independence.
Best: Budget buy
At just £35, this offering from Little Tikes is one of the most budget-friendly on our list – but can it compete with the more expensive walkers? Absolutely. Suitable from nine months onwards, this walker has a whole host of different features: there are three different settings (music, colours and piano), along with a spin ball, gears to turn, a lift the flap book and piano keys. We felt that this walker was extremely sturdy and loved that, unlike others in our round-up, it folded down to save space when you’re not using it (you can also use it in this folded mode as a 3-in-1 table for younger babies who aren't yet walking).
Other features that impressed us include the lock mechanism on the front wheel that supports babies who are just pulling up to stand (preventing the walker from sliding off without them) and the use of a second bar under the main handle to help offer extra support for babies who aren't quite confident in pulling themselves up yet. Our little tester, who is 13-months-old, was enthralled by this walker and its many features.
Best: Standalone toy
Another budget-friendly buy is this model from VTech. This versatile walker is both entertaining and educational and can be used from age six months and over. The activity station, which can be swiftly detached and used as a stand-alone toy is perfect for tummy time and seated babies. It can be used in story mode and music mode, with numbers, colours, shapes and lots of features for little ones to interact with (the detachable mobile phone was a particular hit). It's really easy to store (the wheels can be removed too) and was very easy to assemble. The only downside to this model is the lack of a wheel lock; if used on laminate flooring in particular it can slide a little which isn't ideal for new walkers or babies unsteady on their feet.
Best: Wooden walker
This beautiful wooden walker is a refreshing change from the many plastic models on the market. Made from sustainably sourced wood and non-toxic paint, it may seem a simplistic offering compared to some options, but it has quite a few different functions while taking up hardly any space. In terms of entertainment, our little one loved the wooden shape sorter and beads, which are designed to help with problem-solving skills. The bottom of the space cleverly doubles up as toy storage and the walker can also be used as a fun ride-on toy. The only downside of this walker is that the handle seemed quite short for bigger babies to reach, so it might not be best suited to late walkers.
Best: For sustainability
This wooden walker might be pricey but it's beautifully built and offers a range of engaging sensory activities. Made from 100 per cent FSC wood (a mark of responsible forestry), it's a sustainable alternative and, given there are so many activities, can help you cut down on plastic toys too. Upon building this model, it was clear that the quality was exceptional: it's a solid piece of craftsmanship that we can envision being passed down the family for many years.
Each side to the square walker offers a new activity: a shape sorter with six chunky wooden shapes, a chalkboard, spinning blocks and a movable clock face with hands. The interactive puzzle at the top of the walker also encouraged our toddler, a late walker, to constantly pull himself up to engage with it. Because of the solid frame, we felt completely confident our little one was secure when using it too. If you can afford it, this is certainly a great investment.
Best: For practicality
This sit-in walker has three different height positions (to adapt to your growing baby) and scored really highly on practicality. It was a doddle to slot together and although it doesn't fold down, this model is a lot less bulky than most sit-in walkers. It's lightweight too, making it really easy to move from room to room. The toy station – which includes light and sounds – isn't as varied as some of the other walkers in our round-up, but it can swiftly be removed to use on the floor too. If you’re looking for a sit-in model that won't take up too much space, this is a great choice.
We loved Baby Einstein's 4-in-1 discovery centre. If you’re not sure if you’ll get much use out of a traditional walker, this one is a great option as there's so much more to it and the activity table can be used long after your child has taken their first steps. For a more traditional walker, we can't fault Little Tikes offering: it provides great value for money and scored highly from both its parent and toddler tester. Finally, if you’re looking for something to take pride and place in your nursery then Legler's walker is a purchase you won't regret.
The big question most parents will wonder is around the safety of baby walkers. Like any baby toy or tool, the important thing is to make sure you always supervise your little one when using a walker. Babies and toddlers should never be left unattended in a walker and, like anything, it's important to moderate the amount of time you use them for. The NHS warns against excessive use of baby walkers and suggests using them no more than twenty minutes a day. It notes that they can delay walking if babies use them too much.
While many parents use walkers as a fun way to introduce their baby to walking, there isn't any evidence yet to show that they have a beneficial effect on babies' development. While purchasing one may help with entertaining and educating your baby, there's no suggestion they’ll make them walk any quicker.
Since many modern walkers are multi-functional, it's always important to check the instructions to see the age range they can be used from. If they have a sitting function or an activity function that can be accessed without standing, walkers may be suitable from as early as six months of age. Otherwise, they tend to be recommended from around nine months onwards which is when most babies begin to want to be on their feet. Every baby is different so it's important to check the guidelines and only use a walker when you feel your little one is ready. As a point of reference, your baby should be able to place both feet completely flat on the floor while using the walker. If only their toes can touch the floor, you’ll need to wait until your child grows more.
For some fun tub time for your baby, have a look at our selection of the best bath toys for babies and toddlers
Want to bookmark your favourite articles and stories to read or reference later? Start your Independent Premium subscription today.Read more: The best kids shoe brands for every age group 10 best gifts for one-year-olds: From PJs to play tents 8 best baby nests to settle and soothe your baby 12 best play mats for babies to enjoy tummy time Best overall Best for fun design Best for sturdiness Best budget buy Best standalone toy Best wooden walker Best for sustainability Best for practicality Best: Best: Best: Best: Best: Best: Best: Best: For some fun tub time for your baby, have a look at our selection of the best bath toys for babies and toddlers