According to Dr. Nicola Spurrier, unreasonable time in baby walkers and bouncers teaches babies to stand on their tiptoes, causing their calf muscles to tighten. This affects their ability to walk, missing out on valuable floor time and disregarding critical developmental stages such as rolling and crawling.
While a baby walker has wheels that allow the baby to move around horizontally using her legs while suspended in it, a baby bouncer lets the baby move up and down vertically in response to their kicks and wiggles while in a reclining position.
Every parent wants their little ones adequately stimulated and exercised both mentally and physically, and that’s where baby exercisers like walkers and bouncers come into play.
Both the baby walker and bouncer are incredible options designed to better the lives of babies and parents alike, as long as you supervise the baby while they are in the device.
Picking the right product for your baby comes down to pure personal preference, but we at 1happykiddo will share with you the key differences between a baby walker and a baby bouncer, plus their pros and cons.
Baby walkers vs. baby bouncers defined
To decide whether a baby walker or a baby bouncer will be the best option for your baby, you need to know what both these terms mean.
Here, we’ve broken down each of them to give you an idea of what these baby products are and when and how to use them.
Baby walkers are circular wheeled devices with a suspended seat in the center, with two leg holes designed for children between the ages of 5 and 15 months.
It gives the little ones protection, support, and stability as they move around at will on the wheels of the walker.
The suspended seat and the two-leg hole allow your baby’s feet to touch the ground and “walk” around even though the American Academy of Pediatrics clearly states that baby walkers do not promote independent walking, and stresses that walkers can delay normal development and motor control.
Advantages of a baby walker
- With a baby walker, you get a mobile entertainment center for your baby. It allows babies a sense of Independence with the ability to propel themselves around the house with their little toes.
- Babies are happy knowing that they can reach what they see without needing to wait for the caregiver to take them there. This ability increases their confidence and encourages exploration.
- Babies don’t appreciate staying in one place for too long. With a walker, they can scan things out for themselves.
- Walkers can also give parents the much-needed relief and rest as they give babies away to expend built-up energy which can lead to better sleep and a happier baby overall.
Disadvantages of a baby walker
- Baby walkers are large and could hold up a lot of storage space. There are numerous models in the market now that collapse and fold, but they are still big enough to make it difficult to find a suitable place to keep them.
- Due to the dangers that arise when a baby is mobile, baby walkers are not recommended by most pediatricians. Babies can move very fast in a walker and they can easily fall down the stairs or into a pool within a twinkle of an eye.
- Baby walkers are also elevated off the ground which means babies can also reach stove burners, sharp objects, or easily grab toxic chemicals that would otherwise be out of reach.
- Many parents believe that walkers will help babies learn how to walk quicker, but this is only a myth. Walkers may delay walking.
- Walkers do not support babies’ hips and back appropriately and only their toes can reach the ground, so they do not get the right feel of what it means to walk.
A baby bouncer consists of a hoop suspended by an elastic strap that infants use to exercise and play. More sophisticated baby bouncers have a base made of hard plastic sitting in a frame and a suspended fabric flexible seat.
At its most basic level, a bouncer is simply a seat on a wireframe that allows it to spring up and down, often with a tray holding toys.
They are meant for infants who can not sit unassisted yet and usually serve up to 9 months after which, some of them like the Nuna Leaf Grow (below), can be used as a toddler chair.
Advantages of a baby bouncer
- Just like with walkers, bouncers are a great source of entertainment for small children and a perfect means of spending energy.
- They are stationary but still have sensory toys which are great for motor skill development and fun.
- Baby bouncers have an added feature; they bounce. Babies are ready to jump and bounce from around 4months or so.
- Parents too can get tired from holding their little ones up while they bounce on their legs, but bouncers will give your arms and legs a break while still allowing your baby to bounce all they want to.
- Bouncing on the bouncer can even strengthen your baby’s legs as they are pushing up their body weight with their legs muscles. This can be of great benefit when it comes time for your baby to learn how to walk. It encourages fine motor control.
- The repetitive bouncing motion can soothe a tired, fussy newborn into a satisfying deep sleep.
Disadvantages of a baby bouncer
- Just like walkers again, bouncers can be very bulky, taking up a lot of space, and difficult to store. The greatest disadvantage with this is that there are not many that fold down smaller due to the way they are manufactured.
- Depending on the type of bouncer you have, they can also take a lot of time to assemble and take apart. The bouncing station often has a seat that is suspended with coils, bands, and springs which take time to adjust and fasten correctly.
- Just like walkers, baby bouncers could potentially delay walking.
- Extended use can potentially do more harm than good. Due to the same seat structure that walkers have, babies’ hips and back are not properly supported.
Comparison table of walkers vs bouncers
|6-7 months||4 months|
|Large spaces||Small/large spaces|
|Walking and multipurpose use||Playing and bouncing|
|Decorated with multiple toys, activity tray||Spinning seat with toys|
|Requires a high level of attention||Prolonged usage can have adverse effects on the baby|
Are baby walkers safe?
Yes, for the most part. As long as you don’t leave your baby unsupervised in one for a prolonged period, then baby walkers can and should be considered perfectly safe to use with babies.
From what age should a baby be placed in a baby walker?
Most baby walker manufacturers recommend that your baby be placed in a baby walker around the age of 4 months when they can support their head on their own.
Are bouncers better than walkers?
Baby walkers are controversial for a very good reason. They make babies more mobile than parents are used to. On the other hand, bouncers are static and safer for small babies, but they will not help a baby learn how to walk properly.
Most bouncers are designed to keep your baby in one spot while with a walker, your baby is more likely to move around, raising a series of safety concerns involving ledges, stairs, and running into items that may topple over.
Do babies need walkers or bouncers first?
Before babies can walk, they must learn how to stand on their own first.
When they are placed in a bouncer or a walker before they have developed adequate control of their muscles, they may not be able to support their whole body in a proper position.
At first glance, both these devices seem enjoyable and appropriate opportunities for your baby, but there’s more to them than fun and entertainment. They greatly contribute to your baby’s healthy developmental growth.
One of the most significant inherent risks of any equipment is using it too much. If babies are spending time in their walkers and jumpers, they are not spending time in uncontained spaces where they can strengthen their muscles and explore the environment around them.
While some babies may spend time on these devices and seem to move and develop without any trouble, others may have more difficulties down the road. At the end of the day, only you can decide what’s best for you and your baby.
These little ones learn by having various opportunities and experiences. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each piece of equipment in your baby’s life gives you the knowledge to make appropriate decisions.
Allowing your baby to have lots of floor time to explore their environment, strengthen their muscles, and refine their movement will help set a solid foundation that will have them up and walking before you know it.