Once your baby starts pulling themselves up, either people around or data mining on social media will throw walker suggestions in your radar. What is the deal on walkers? Are they montessori? Are they recommended? And most importantly, are they necessary?
Walkers, and other commercially available movement aids hinder development in the same way. They make a child mobile so quickly that he sometimes just gives up on his own attempts when outside the walker. They also give the child misinformation about where his “space” or body ends, and how legs really work, confusing messages that have to be relearned later.Susan Mayclin Stephenson, The Joyful Child: Montessori, Global Wisdom for birth to three
That quote really sums up the case against commercially available walkers. For one, the baby depends on the adult to be put in and out, which straight away removes independence and need to walk. They are too fast and dangerous for babies. Most importantly, it is confusing for a child learning about the physical boundaries of her body.
Montessori friendly walker wagon
“A walker wagon (wooden, not plastic) will provide an opportunity for the child to pull up and practice walking at will, but it will usually require the adult to turn the wagon around when the child reaches the end of the path, and push and pull toys are great fun for the new walker. None of these things rush the child, but they all help give the opportunity for practice at the perfect time.”Michael Olaf, The First Year
Consider now, the walker wagon. The baby decides when to use it, and provides a stable base to practise pulling up and movement. But most importantly, it supports the natural position and development of the child.
You can introduce a Walker wagon once the child can pull themselves up on their own, and shows interest in walking with support.
Choosing a walker
Here are some pointers that I keep in mind while recommending walker wagons.
Stability: Choose a wagon with a heavy base and wide handle. We use V2’s walker wagon as her book cart as well, so having a few books in it provides a little weight for stability too. I also prefer a high base so that the baby’s feet do not get stuck in the gap while moving.
Wheels: Ensure that the wheels have stoppers or are adjustable to prevent them from moving too fast.
Isolation: There are some walkers that double up as an activity board with multiple busy activities, music and lights on them. I would consider a simple, wooden wagon with minimal distractions.
Is it a must-have?
Our walker wagon is from Playtoddz. It is pocket friendly, easily maneuverable, and sturdy. Most importantly, it makes for great a great storage option for V2’s books and is well-loved by her.
Another great option is the one from AriroToys.
As per me, walker wagons fall into the “nice to have” category. They are definitely not a must- have and you can easily provide safe alternatives for your child to explore their environment freely, and to meet their need for movement, with or without a walker wagon.