The Best Baby Walker Alternatives for Tots on the Move

The Fisher-Price 2-Sided Steady Speed Walker entertains toddlers on so many levels

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Fisher-Price 2-Sided Steady Speed Walker
Photo: Target

Watching your baby walk for the first time is one of the greatest joys a parent can have. Walking opens up a whole new world for your little one, so you may be eager to help them reach this milestone with a baby walker, push toy, or standing activity center. But before we help you choose one for your child, there are important developmental and safety issues to consider.

While there are plenty of baby walkers that claim to encourage walking, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against traditional sit-in walkers and has actually called for a ban on them. This is because traditional sit-in walkers are a significant cause of injury for babies and can harm their posture and gait. "Studies have shown that the use of sit-in walkers has led to significant injury in children less than 15 months," says Anh Le, MD, a physician who treats children at One Medical in Irvine, Calif. "The most common injuries have occurred with children rolling down the stairs, leading to head and neck injuries, and sometimes even skull fractures."

Fortunately, there are plenty of safe alternatives out there. When searching for a baby walker alternative, parents should look for an activity table or push toy that allows a baby to walk or stand behind or beside it. Because they're often bigger than the average toy, you want something that isn't an eyesore and fits in your home nicely. And since a majority of today's activity tables and push toys have musical features, be sure to select one that plays tunes you don't mind hearing (over and over again).

Today's baby walker alternatives can cost anywhere from $35-$200. After speaking with childhood experts, we narrowed down a wide range of baby walker alternatives and are recommending those that are highly rated by parents and caregivers for fun, safety, and quality.

Here are the best baby walker alternatives on the market today:

Our Favorite Baby Walker Alternatives

Best Overall: Fisher-Price 2-Sided Steady Speed Walker

Best Baby Walker Alternatives
Target

Also available at Amazon

Why We Like It: With more than 10 different activities, this sit-to-stand walker provides 360 degrees of educational play.

But Take Note: The sortable shapes aren't attached and could be easily misplaced.

During a visit to the Fisher-Price Play Lab, we saw first-hand how this toy delights babies and toddlers as they sit, stand, and begin to walk, making it our top overall pick on this list. The real innovation here, developed by toy designers after watching children play with several prototypes, is the fact that little ones can interact with it on all sides and at varying heights as a car, shape sorter, musical toy, and a way to learn counting and the alphabet. There are plenty of lower features for sitting babies to twist, turn and pull, and the wheels have a built-in mechanism that keeps them slow, so those learning to walk won't stumble forward. This walker is suitable for children ages 6 months to 3 years old.

Best Runner Up: LeapFrog Little Office Learning Center

Best Baby Walker Alternatives
Amazon

Also available at BuyBuy Baby and Walmart

Why We Like It: A lifelike toy that provides role-play activities while encouraging children to pull themselves up to stand.

But Take Note: The play phone's sticker can dissolve in babies' mouths.

With the help of this learning center, your little one can work on their balance and coordination while pretending to work from home like mom or dad. Designed like a miniature desk, it beckons your child to stand up and reach for one of the various office-like toys. If a baby is still working on sitting up, parents can simply remove the legs to create a floor play experience.

In addition to learning about shapes, animals, and greetings in English and Spanish, children can role play with a laptop, globe, or phone. Just be sure to keep the phone out of your child's mouth as the sticker on the back dissolves easily. This activity center is suitable for children ages 6 months to 3 years old.

Best Value: Bright Starts 4-in-1 Shop 'n Cook Walker

Best Baby Walker Alternatives
Amazon

Also available at Amazon and BuyBuy Baby

Why We Like It: This cute shopping cart has wide, sturdy legs to keep your toddler stable while standing.

But Take Note: It requires three AA batteries to operate, and they're not included with the purchase.

In addition to encouraging kids to strengthen their stride, this push toy provides ample opportunities for your little one to stretch their imagination. Toddlers can sit or stand to play with the bustling cooktop, or they can pull themselves up to push the cart and listen to the popcorn pop.

A great feature about this push toy is its wide legs, which make it sturdy for little ones who are learning to walk. There's little assembly required; however, it does need three AA batteries, which are not included with the purchase. This push toy is designed for children ages 12 to 24 months.

Best Activity Center: Fisher-Price 2-in-1 Sit-to-Stand Activity Center

Best Baby Walker Alternatives
Amazon

Also available at Walmart and BuyBuy Baby

Why We Like It: With a removable seat, this activity center transforms as your child grows to keep the features age appropriate and entertaining.

But Take Note: The seat adjusts but may not accommodate taller babies.

The best part about this activity center is that you can modify it as your child grows. When a baby can hold their head up on their own, they can use the seat insert (which is machine washable) to enjoy 360-degree access to its various plant- and animal-themed activity toys. Some parents and caregivers note that taller babies are not supported as well, but the seat has three height adjustments, which can help.

As toddlers begin pulling themselves up to a standing position, parents can replace the seat with a winding ramp to race the smiling roller bugs. And since there are no wheels involved, you won't have to worry about your little one tripping or falling while using this toy. Keep in mind that it takes a few minutes to assemble (with a screwdriver), but all in all, it provides ample opportunities for children to strengthen motor skills, engage in sensory play and explore their curiosity. This activity table is suitable for children ages 9 months to 3 years old.

Best Wooden: Melissa & Doug First Play Chomp and Clack Alligator Push Toy

Best Baby Walker Alternatives
Amazon

Also available at Walmart and Michaels

Why We Like It: It's easy to assemble and is made of sturdy materials.

But Take Note: The boxy frame can make it challenging to turn.

This push toy is built to last for years. Because it's made entirely from wood and weighs around 7 pounds, turning corners can be a little tricky for beginners. However, slipping and sliding won't be an issue with its non-skid wheels and easy-to-grasp handle.

With butterflies that slide and spin and colorful fish on every wheel, this walker provides multiple opportunities for your little one to learn and grow through play. And while some parents aren't a fan of its clacking alligators, they can also be quite endearing (and an improvement over some musical electronic toys!). This toy is safe for kids 12 months and up.

Best Sustainably Made: InspiraSpark Little Balance Box

Best Baby Walker Alternatives
Amazon

Why We Like It: It's designed by a mom and moves without wheels.

But Take Note: Because it's made from bamboo, it must be kept dry—and cleaning can be tedious.

Designed by a mom who is also a doctor of physical therapy, this push toy is unique in that it doesn't have wheels. Instead, it has spring-loaded feet that move up and down and can safely glide across surfaces of all kinds. For added stability, you can add "booties" to two feet, providing more traction. The ergonomically designed toy features a large tray in the table's center that has edges for gripping, pushing and pulling. It can also function as a table when your child is older.

This table is made of sustainable bamboo and silicone—but this has its limitations. Upon receiving, you'll want to open the box immediately to allow the table to ventilate, as bamboo is sensitive to moisture. The table is not treated with chemicals of any kind, so it's important to keep it dry at all times. Rest assured that it can be disinfected with a mild cleaning solution and should be patted (not rubbed) dry.

This balance box is safe to use when a baby can balance and independently pull themselves to stand up, starting at around 6 months old.

Best for All Floors: VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker

Best Baby Walker Alternatives
Amazon

Also available at Amazon

Why We Like It: This walker moves well on all floors, and its speed can be adjusted.

But Take Note: The detachable play phone is easily misplaced.

Whether you have carpet, wood floors, or a nursery lined with play mats, this push toy will glide through your space. It has an abundance of features that will keep your little one occupied, including a removable activity panel that invites your baby to practice tummy time and enjoy sensory play. The small, detachable phone is easy to misplace, which can be frustrating for children and caregivers alike.

A great safety feature on this walker is the adjustable resistance knob. With a slight turn, adults can control how quickly the wheels move to keep their little one safe. It requires two AA batteries to operate, which are included with your purchase. This walker is suitable for children ages 9 months to 3 years old.

Best Portable: Little Tikes Light 'n Go 3-in-1 Activity Walker

Best Baby Walker Alternatives
Amazon

Also available at Amazon

Why We Like It: Because it folds flat, this walker is great for small spaces and taking along on vacations.

But Take Note: Assembling this walker can be confusing.

If your baby needs a little inspiration to move their legs, perhaps this push toy will do the trick. Like a small lantern, the projected lights on this walker will beckon your child to put one foot in front of the other. It also folds into a standing activity table and sit-down play center, so they can enjoy interactive play no matter their age. This collapsible feature also makes this walker great for travel and easy to store away at the end of the day.

It's important to note that assembling this walker can be a challenge. Once the parts are connected, they can't be rearranged, which has left some parents installing the activity center upside down. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully during assembly so that your child will get the most out of this three-in-one toy. According to the manufacturer, it's suitable for children ages 9 months to 3 years old.

Best Creative Design: Fat Brain Toys Scoop 'n Scoot Ice Cream Walker

Best Baby Walker Alternatives
Fatbraintoys

Why We Like It: This well-made walker comes with a lifetime guarantee.

But Take Note: Unlike other walkers, this one is designed for toddlers 18 months and older.

In addition to safety, quality is one of the most important facets of any toy. This push toy has a lifetime guarantee from the manufacturer, which is great if you plan to have multiple children. It's made of both wood and metal, and requires some minor assembly.

The quality also extends to this toy's design. From the magnetic ice cream scoops to the vibrant popsicles and lollipops, the attention to detail on this miniature ice cream truck is one of its best features. Just be aware that while other push toys are suitable for babies under a year old, this one is designed for children aged 18 months and older.

Best for Outdoors: Little Tikes Spiralin' Seas Waterpark Play Table

Best Baby Walker Alternatives
Amazon

Also available at Amazon

Why We Like It: A fun way to beat the heat while encouraging your toddler to stand and practice their motor skills.

But Take Note: Only the included balls will fit down the spiral tub; others may get stuck.

Harnessing the benefits of one of nature's best sensory toys, this water table is a fun way to encourage your child to practice their motor skills while enjoying the great outdoors. The wide, rounded edges are ideal for gripping and shuffling along, and there are a variety of activities for little hands to reach.

As your toddler grows taller, they can drop a ball down the spiral tube and watch it plop into the lazy river. Just be sure to use only the balls included with the table, as others can get stuck. This table takes anywhere from 20-30 minutes to assemble and is suitable for children aged 2 years and older.

Best Educational: Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Around the Town Learning Table

Best Baby Walker Alternatives
Amazon

Also available at Amazon and Kohl's

Why We Like It: A table that's designed for little ones as young as 6 months old.

But Take Note: The play phone can be misplaced, and its stickers dissolve easily.

With one of the earliest age ranges among our selections, this learning table makes a great toy for children as young as 6 months old. Each corner features a different "destination" and the content can be tailored to your child's developmental stage. Plus, it plays and recites more than 120 songs and phrases.

This table begins as a seated floor toy, and you can add legs to it when your little one is ready to pull themselves up to a standing position. Just keep an eye on the play phone, as its stickers can dissolve in your child's mouth. This table is suitable for children ages 6 months to 3 years old.

Best Classic: Radio Flyer Classic Walker Wagon

Best Baby Walker Alternatives
Amazon

Also available at Walmart

Why We Like It: This wagon's tread and rounded bumper keep your kids and furniture safe.

But Take Note: This wagon is on the heavier side, weighing about 10.5 pounds.

A Radio Flyer wagon is a quintessential childhood toy; you may have fond memories of either owning or riding in one and want to pass on that nostalgia to your child. When your little one begins to pull themselves up, they can use the wagon for support as they take their first steps. To keep your kiddo safe, its wheels are lined with molded grip tread and are accompanied by resistance clickers, which you can use to adjust the walker's speed.

To prevent scratches on walls and furniture, this walker has a rounded bumper on the end. Assembly is required, and altogether this walker weighs almost 10.5 pounds. It also has a weight capacity of 35 pounds, which may exclude some older toddlers from riding in it, but not from pushing it around. This walker wagon is designed for children ages 1 to 4 years.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Baby Walker Alternative

Type of Toy

Many brands still call their toys "baby walkers," but they look nothing like the type of sit-in walkers doctors advise against. Instead, they may be push toys with wheels and handles toddlers can use to practice standing and walking. Or they may be stationary activity centers with several attractions that entice young children to stand up and practice their balance. Some toys may also offer a combination of ways to use them, with activities younger babies can play with during tummy time or sitting up on the ground, as well as legs or wheels to attach when they get older. Consider your space, your child's developmental level, and how long you want to be able to use this toy when deciding what type to get.

When it comes to all the toys in this broad category, Dr. Le says she prefers activity centers. "These are the safest alternatives to baby walkers," she tells Parents. "In a stationary center, a child can bounce and swivel as well as be entertained. Other activity centers encourage babies to pull [themselves up] to stand and develop muscle strength as they walk around the table to play."

Material

One thing to consider when looking at push toys and activity centers is material. If you're looking to reduce your carbon footprint, a wooden push toy like the Melissa & Doug Chomp and Clack Alligator is a great option. Just remember that wooden toys tend to be heavier than plastic ones, which makes them less portable and not as easy to maneuver. The benefit of plastic push toys and activity centers is that they are lightweight, easy to clean, and often have musical or light-up features.

Educational Value

Parents may also want to consider how well a product caters to various developmental stages. For example, a push toy or activity center that provides opportunities for sensory play through music, lights, and things to touch can be beneficial to your child's development. Sensory play helps build nerve connections in the brain's pathways, which can strengthen your child's language, fine motor (e.g., zipping a jacket), gross motor (e.g., walking), and cognitive (e.g., solving a problem) skills. Some of these toys also incorporate counting, alphabet songs, color and shape sorting, and bilingual greetings into their activities.

"Children learn about the world around them through interactions and play," says April Twenhafel, MS, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Newport Beach, Calif. "It's through this sensory experience of exploration that a child develops physically, mentally, and emotionally."

Entertainment Value

Of course, a walker, push toy, or activity center should also be fun! Look for those that have plenty of features to keep your child engaged. Whether it's through sounds, shapes, or even role-playing objects, a great toy will keep your child entertained while nurturing their cognitive and motor skills.

How to Use Baby Walker Alternatives Safely

While baby walkers have been around for years, their safety is refutable. In 2019, an estimated 3,000 children were treated in the emergency room for injuries related to a baby walker, jumper, or exerciser, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) reported. According to a study in Pediatrics, more than 90% of baby walker related injuries from 1990-2014 were to the head or neck, and more than 74% were caused by falling down the stairs in a walker.

"Sit-in walkers can also increase children's exposure to objects that are dangerous and normally out of reach, such as a hot stove or hazardous household chemicals, leading to burns and poisonings, respectively," says Dr. Le.

Thankfully, there are a variety of activity centers and push toys on the market today that are much safer than sit-in baby walkers. But before a child even begins to crawl, parents should baby proof the home to provide a safe environment to explore and play.

"It's our job as parents to create safe places of exploration where our children can freely discover the world around them in order to develop confidence and independence," says Twenhafel.

Before you make your purchase, you can always check the CPSC to make sure the product has not been recalled for safety concerns.

Your Questions, Answered

Do walkers delay walking?

According to Dr. Le, it's possible. "Know that despite [the] name, walkers were not meant to encourage babies to walk," she explains. "In fact, they can delay motor development since they can prohibit children from developing the strength and balance needed to be able to start walking."

How do I encourage my baby to walk?

"Giving your child opportunities to explore a safe environment and become comfortable with their body movements are key," explains Dr. Le. She also suggests walking in front of or next to your child and offering them your hands to help strengthen their balance.

Dr. Le also notes that falling will occur and is expected. "Reminding your child that trips or falls are OK and normal helps them understand it's part of the learning process," she says.

Who We Are

Laura Lu, MS, is a seasoned health writer whose work has been published in The New York Times, Media Psychology, and Brit+Co, to name a few. After writing as a staff member at Mayo Clinic for several years, she transitioned to her current role as a stay-at-home mom to her 4-year-old son, 2-year-old daughter, and adorable bichon frisé.

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