We pulled together over a dozen baby walkers, both sit-in and push-behind style, and put them to the test. Our hands-on evaluations tested for stability, durability, the fun factor, safety, style, and ease of use (for storage and portability). We came away with some awesome options that we think you and your baby will love! They are detailed below. For more information about how we did our tests, and factors you should consider when picking a baby walker, check out the bottom of this article.
|Model and Link to Amazon||Our Rating|
|#1. Joovy Spoon Baby Walker|
|#2. VTech Sit-to-Stand Baby Walker|
|#3. Hape Wooden Wonder Walker|
|#4. Safety 1st Sounds and Lights|
|#5. Bright Starts Walk-a-bout|
Here are the Best Baby Walkers of 2018!
Usually about $80, available in a bunch of colors. This top-rated baby walker takes on the classic form of a traditional sit-in baby walker, but with some excellent features and style. When we took it out of the packaging, we were surprised at two things: first, how lightweight it was (only about 12 pounds), and second, how it folded up into a pretty thin format that could slide right under the bed for storage. So we were off to a good start! Popping it open was easy, and the walker takes on a pretty sleek and stylish shape and size. We liked the simple colors and contemporary lines, without compromising on features. The tray was large and wrapped around the side of the baby, which should increase safety by making it harder for your baby to reach to things to their right or left. What's also cool about the tray is that it includes a removable insert (like some of the best high chairs) that can be popped off and cleaned easily, and thrown right into the dishwasher (if you can fit it in!). The baby seating surface is soft and plush, and easy to wipe clean or remove for machine washing; the fabric is high quality, and we didn't notice any color bleeding or shrinkage. Once your baby is sitting in the walker, it has three height adjustments to help make sure your baby's little feet can actually reach the floor (or the play mat), and can support babies up to 30 pounds. The rolling/gliding action was smooth and our test babies didn't seem to have any difficulty getting this to move on hardwood, tile, or linoleum floors. Carpets were a challenge of course, though thin-pile rugs or berber carpets were generally fine. With two parents standing on the second step and baby in the walker, we put it to the ultimate test: we let baby try to roll right to the parents, sending the front wheels of the walker right off the edge of the stairs. Well, the no-slip stair pads on the bottom did their job, and did it well: they stopped it right in its tracks, only letting the front wheels go about 2" off the edge and keeping the vast majority of the walker safe and sound. We didn't need to intervene at all, which was reassuring. So overall, we were really impressed with features and safety of this walker, all without sensory overload with tons of crazy toys attached. You have enough baby gear to keep track of already, no need to worry about the random toys that have popped off the baby walker. Of course, even with the safety features you need to be very careful when using any walker on any surface. Cons? Well, the wheels don't lock which is inconvenient, and the tallest height setting leaves something to be desired (if your baby is very tall, they will grow out of it sooner than is ideal). For a taller baby, check out the Safety 1st option below.
Usually about $35, the VTech Sit to Stand is available in pinks and purples (pictured) or oranges and greens. When the dangers of sit-in baby walkers spread like wildfire through the press, this was one of the answers. Instead of having your baby sit inside the walker and roll around, this top-rated activity walker serves babies who have already learned to pull themselves up but haven't learned to walk independently. So it's a slightly different phase of use relative to a sit-in walker. The sit-in style can work for any baby with head/neck control, but this type of push-walker won't be useful until your baby pulls to stand. Once they do, they can grab the handles on this and get themselves into all sorts of trouble! Usually from about 9 months to 2 years of age or so. VTech calls this the "Sit-to-Stand" because it can be used as a little 2in1 activity center by popping off the play portion and placing it on the floor: baby can sit down next to it and play with the colorful toys. Then, it can be placed back onto the frame and unfolded and used as a push-around baby walker, that's the "stand" part. It's pretty underwhelming as a sit-down activity center, but it does do really well as a push-walker, and at a great price point. It's relatively inexpensive, and we found it to be stable, durable, and have some fun gadgets. For instance, a cute little telephone (probably the only one they'll ever see that still looks like this!), piano keys that play music, rollers and gear cogs, and light-up buttons. To power the music and lights, it takes two AA batteries which are actually included (that's rare!). Given the features and relatively low price, it's no wonder that it's been the best-selling baby walker on the market for several years now! Note that if you don't want the rolling walker part, but want a standing activity center that is very similar to this, VTech also makes an awesome Learning Table. Overall, we really liked this basic and inexpensive walker, and thought it was perfect for babies who are around 9-10 months old and ready to explore walking with some support. We also thought that it rolled much better on carpeting and rugs than any of the sit-in walkers, so this is a great option if you have wall-to-wall carpeting or a lot of thicker rugs. One other cool thing is that it has adjustable resistance settings for the wheels, so you can control how fast the wheels will spin. Younger kids will need it on the slower setting, and older kids or carpeting will probably call for the faster setting. Cons? Well, there's no adjustable handle height to accommodate a growing baby, and the friction of the tires on hardwood or tile could be improved to avoid the walker sliding sideways at times. But we can't really complain about that, since it basically makes it possible to turn this walker (unlike with some of the below options) without popping up the front wheels.
Usually about $75. This Hape walker is one of the most adorable and high quality activity walkers we tested. We love the quality craftsmanship, vivid and non-toxic paint colors, and the simple and clever toys that keep a baby interested but not overwhelmed. One of the great things about this walker is that it's basically impossible to tip over, whether it's tipping forward, backward, or to the side. It's very stable, and that's more than we can say for many of the walkers we tested! When our test babies tried it out, they all seemed to love being able to put random things in the front and push them around. This included toys, stuffies, and in one case the family cat! This is one of the great things about this walker that will keep toddlers enjoying it for a while, and it's a much better experience than simply pushing buttons on electronic toys. When we tested it, we found that it assembled very easily out of the box, and everything worked pretty well. The only drawback that we keep finding with wooden baby walkers is that they are really hard to turn. While the VTech will turn by basically sliding sideways or a toddler can pop up the front wheels to turn it, that can't happen with these. The wheels on this walker are grippy and it's heavy enough that it can't be turned easily at all. So a couple of our testing babies ended up going in a straight line until they hit something, and then mom or dad had to turn it in a different direction. So that was a bit of a pain. The second issue with wooden walkers is wheel speed: it's really difficult to get the wheels to turn at a good speed. On this one, you can't simply tighten the screws more to make them spin more slowly (like you can with the Cossy model, below). So we found that it was a bit too fast on hard surfaces, but really great on carpeting. Outside of those wheel-related issues, we thought it was durable, super sturdy, well-built, and is likely to be a go-to toy for several years.
Usually about $50. This is a much more traditionally-styled baby walker with all the bells and whistles, including the bright colors and noisy toys. But it also includes the non-skid safety catches on the bottom to reduce the chances of rolling down the stairs, so it's a bit of an old-meets-new style baby walker. Out of the box, we thought that it folds down into a good-sized package that can slide right under a normal bed, so that was great for storage. Once it's popped up, it has 3 adjustable height settings to accommodate your growing baby. We did find that at the lowest setting it's most appropriate for babies who are probably around 10-months old or over like 28" height, otherwise they probably wont be able to reach the floor (note that it has a 31-pound weight limit). It's like this one is too high, but the Joovy option is too low. We've yet to find the perfect-height baby walker that also meets all the other criteria we care about. Anyway, back to our review. About the toys - it has a lot of them, some with music and lights, some with crinkle-noises, and some relatively simple cause-effect options. We'd like to be able to tell you what type of batteries these toys use, but we couldn't find that information anywhere and couldn't find a battery door anywhere on the walker! We didn't go through batteries after about 2 months of testing, but it's worth pointing out that we have no idea where they are hidden, what size they are, or if they are replaceable in the first place. Back to the positives. We liked that there were the toys, but they could also be swiveled out of the way (to the side) to expose two snack trays. They don't have washable trays, but they were good sizes for simple snacks. Speaking of washing, the seat cover is removable and machine washable, so that's a nice feature. So overall, we liked this activity walker, and it's worth inclusion on this list. It seemed durable, rolled well on hard floors and rugs, and our test babies seemed to really love the toys. But if the batteries die you're both out of luck! Strange. Note that Safety 1st also makes two additional baby walkers: first, the Safety 1st Ready Set Walk baby walker that is very similar to this one, and also doesn't have a replaceable battery. Second, the Safety 1st Disney Music and Lights baby walker, which is also very similar to this one but has super pink Disney styling and, wait for it, you can replace the batteries! Though assembly and battery replacement were both a major pain.
Usually about $45. This top-rated Bright Starts walker has a lot of great things going for it. Out of the box, just like all the other baby walkers, it was a bit of a pain to assemble. None of the baby activity walkers are easy to assemble, unless it's just a push walker (like the VTech or Cossy). But one of the things we loved after we assembled it is the tall seat back height, which was fantastic for supporting shoulders and heads of especially young babies. It was definitely a taller seat back than any other walker in this buying guide. Other than that, it is overall pretty similar to the Safety 1st baby walker models. It has 3 adjustable heights to support babies from about 6 to 12 months of age (or 15-26 pounds). In our tests, it worked just fine for even older babies, though we were probably pushing the weight limits a bit. We measured from the bottom of the seat to the floor and it was about 6" at the lowest height, and 9" at the highest height; so it's adjustable, but not really over a dramatic range. The bigger size restriction we bumped into was with babies with chubby thighs, since the leg holes are surprisingly narrow making it hard to move baby in and out of the seat. The activity center part of the walker was pretty cute: it's a little safari-themed steering wheel with music, sounds, and lights. One of the nice things is that it has adjustable volume control so you can make it low enough to entertain baby without giving mom a headache! One of the random things is that it has these somewhat pointy leaves on the sides, our test babies didn't hurt themselves or anything, but it seemed like a strange decision for Bright Starts. We also didn't think the seat was very comfy, made of very thin fabric, and though we thought it was nice to have the higher-back seat, it made it impossible for us to fold up and slide under our bed (it just didn't fold up small enough to do that). Anyway, this is a great overall baby activity walker with some good features, and an excellent price that might make up for some limitations. Oh, did we mention that you can replace the batteries!? It was a pain because you need to remove the toy entirely, but it's nice to have the possibility.
Usually about $75. We're suckers for super cute wooden toys that are well-constructed and durable, like the awesome line of wooden toys by Melissa and Doug and Hape. This Cossy baby walker is no exception. It's got bright primary colors, wooden construction, an adorable look, non-toxic paint, and good craftsmanship. When we pulled this out of the box, there was some minor assembly required, which took us about 5 minutes. Easy-peesy. There were several features that stood out to us, like the rubber trim on the wooden wheels to help protect your floors and prevent sideways sliding, and the adorable xylophone for making music. To be fair, the xylophone doesn't sound so great, but you need to remember it's just a toy! The wooden wheels don't have preset adjustments like the VTech, instead you can tighten or loosen the screws to make it easier or harder to push around. The height was great for a baby around 12-18 months of age, and we liked the little storage basket on the back where you can put the xylophone stick and the included wooden shape blocks that fit into slots on the side of the walker. The toys were overall well-executed and high quality, and kept babies busy for a good amount of time. On the side you can wind cars and a stop sign around on a road-like track, and on the front there are balls on rails that your baby will love sliding around. So overall this is a really adorable baby walker that has some fun toys and features while maintaining a style suitable for the more discerning parents out there! The only downfall we found with this walker was the wheels: it was hard to get them all to equal tightness, and then over time they would loosen and spin faster than you might desire. For handy parents this might not be an issue, as you could put on some teflon washers and use them to change the friction; but for most other parents it will prove a bit of a pain in the rear. So this is an excellent activity walker with only one detractor.
Some additional information:
The baby walker is a transitional development toy for supporting the transition from standing to walking, helping to get your baby confident and ready for independent walking. While there is no convincing scientific data that baby walkers help your baby learn to walk (in fact they might do the opposite), there is no denying that they are super fun activity centers that give you some control over their mobility. Baby walkers come in two primary styles: first is the classic sit-in walker that is half exersaucer, half walker. Second is the push-walker that baby can hold onto and push around the house, usually doubling as an activity walker on one side. Neither provide any reliable developmental advantage: they probably won't make your baby walk sooner or better, and definitely won't guarantee they are track stars when they grow up. Instead, think of them as entertainment for your baby until they learn to walk, just like a bounce bounce exersaucer, activity jumper, or activity center.
We don't want to freak you out, but the traditional sit-in roll-around baby walkers were pretty dangerous. So dangerous that Canada banned them a few years ago, and the American Academy of Pediatrics is calling for a similar ban in the USA. Babies in the classic type of walker could reach higher and more dangerous things around the house (they can roll right up and grab something off the counter!), roll down a staircase, or even roll into a pool. Babies move really fast in a walker, and one little mistake (like forgetting to close the basement door) can lead to disaster. So pay attention, and don't take your eyes off a baby in a walker; baby care is serious business. So take the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and don't accept an old second-hand walker from a cousin, be sure to buy a new one with modern safety features.
In the past few years, several improvements have been made to increase safety of sit-in baby walkers. Most mdels now include lower rails that (in theory) will catch on a stair edge and use friction to stop momentum before a disaster happens. Think of it like a super low-rider car: any little pot-hole and you will be scraping the bottom of your car when your tire drops into the hole. New baby walkers operate on the same principle, using bottom edge friction to bring slow the walker down and bring it to a stop when it drops off any ledge over about half an inch deep. So this reduces the risk of your baby careening down the stairs or off any ledge. One of the baby walkers we tested, the Delta Children Deluxe Lil Drive Baby Activity Walker, did not have the lower rails. Though the Lil Drive walker was a lot of fun and babies loved the race car walker styling, we didn't think it met our safety standards. Newer designs will also increase the width of the tray area surrounding the baby, making it harder for them to reach beyond the width of the walker pushing up against a kitchen counter (and also making it harder for them to pinch fingers when bumping into a wall or furniture). In fact, our best-rated baby walker does both of those things, and does them really well. Even though baby walkers are safer than ever before, please be sure that your house is baby-proofed before you let your baby loose in a new walker! If you're interested in an exersaucer that doesn't roll around, you can see our reviews of those here!
Regarding our test procedures, we had 4 babies give each walker a try in their own homes. The test babies ranged in age from 7 to 22 months, and the households varied quite a bit - some had all hardwood, some wall-to-wall carpet, and some with a mix. We unboxed and assembled each model, and then turned them over to the parents. Parents reported back to us about each product they tested, giving us honest feedback about the performance of each. And they were really honest! After we got them back from the parents, we tested them out ourselves and tried to confirm or disconfirm all of the positives and negatives reported by the parents. Then, we compiled parents' reviews with our own and put together a ranked set of the best walkers. Note that 6 of the walkers we tested are not on this list: one came broken out of the box, a couple broke a random part during use, and a few more received overall poor reviews and were not worth including here. Regarding the stairs test, we only subjected the Joovy and Safety 1st models to that test. It made us really nervous when we tried it, but it was worth it for our peace of mind. Overall we found that the Joovy performed a bit better than the Safety 1st in the edge-of-stairs test, presumably due to the configuration of the Joovy base and its nice anti-slip surface on the bottom rails. Of course it's just one test and your situation might differ, so always watch your baby carefully and make sure your home is safe before using any baby walker. The top rated baby walkers on our list can get pretty expensive. If you're not willing to max out your credit cards on a fancy walker, and you can't find any random gift cards left over from your baby shower, then there are some excellent cheap options like the VTech Sit to Stand. Just like with all of our articles, as we receive and test additional baby gear, we will continue to update this list throughout the year. We hope all of our hard work pays off, and helps you find the perfect baby walker for your situation!