Baby walkers allow a child greater mobility, and faster access to other objects, than they would normally have. This can increase the risk of an accident.
Playing on the floor is better for your child’s development. If you buy and use a baby walker, think carefully about the safety of your home environment. Other people like parents and siblings share that environment, and it's not always possible to completely remove all other hazards or to focus undivided attention on one child.
Product safety standard
Baby walkers must meet product safety standards, even if they are second-hand. The standard sets out requirements for the stability of the walker, its performance over steps, and safety warnings.
See Baby walkers for more information about the baby walker product safety standard.
Buying a baby walker
New baby walkers
When buying a new baby walker, look for a statement showing:
- compliance with the American Standard ASTM F977, or
- the American JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) logo.
A reliable retailer can help you select a safe walker. Look for these safety features:
- recessed wheel mouldings
- friction strips on the base
- warning labels
- grips around corners.
Second-hand/old baby walkers
Don't use a baby walker if it's second-hand, a hand-me-down, or made before 2002, or you're not sure if it meets the standards. Throw it away and buy a walker you're sure complies with the standards.
How to use baby walkers safely
- Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for assembly and use.
- Use the walker only for short periods of time — they are designed only for occasional short use.
- Always supervise a baby in a baby walker — it's not a safe place to leave a baby alone.
- Check the environment. Make sure:
- hazards such as stairs, heaters, and fireplaces are well-guarded
- the walker is on a flat, stable surface like a floor
- outer doors are shut
- electrical and blind cords are out of reach
- hot foods and liquids are out of reach
- toys or beads attached to the walker are well fastened, and the toys comply with safety standards.
Reporting a problem with a baby walker
If a shop is selling a baby walker that doesn't meet the mandatory standard, you can report it to the Commerce Commission. They are the agency that enforces the Baby Walker Product Safety Standard.