They’ve been one of the biggest names in the nursery world since our own childhoods, so we’ve come to expect a lot from Italian brand Chicco.
Founded in 1958, the organisation has 140 stores world-wide and sells its goods in more than 170 countries.
New to the vast Chicco collection of parenting products, the 1-2-3 Activity Centre is an updated take on a traditional walker.
We’re used to seeing little ones buzzing around in these square-framed baby-zimmers. But now Chicco have found a way for the Activity Centre to see babies from first steps to ride-on fun times!
How does the walker work for babies just getting to their feet?
My son Ru is 8-months-old and still getting the feel for standing when supported, so he’s just right for step one of the 1-2-3 Activity Centre.
From the moment he was placed in the walker he was comfortable and jiggled around in it happily.
I was delighted to see that after a short while he learnt to move backwards and forwards (albeit just a few inches.)
I’m sure he’ll be whooshing along in a couple of weeks!
What’s it like for older toddlers learning to walk?
That’s stage two, which is suitable from 9 months – and it’s great! My sister brought her 15 month-old twins over for a visit and the1-2-3 Activity Centre kept them safely occupied.
In the second stage it is very sturdy and provides a lot of support in the handlebars. And because it’s quite weighty the walker doesn’t runaway when pushed on by little hands.
Saying that, you will have to keep an eye on your little one’s heels so they don’t bash against the plastic. But on the other hand, the frame works a little like a protective barrier and is sure to keep your child out of trouble. It was almost impossible for the twins to get up close to things they shouldn’t go to near – parental property 1 – sticky little fingers 0!
Does it take up a lot of space?
Yes, it does. Walkers are notoriously bulky at the best of times and this multifunction shape means it does not fold down at all.
So you need a lot – and I mean a lot – of room.
And nippy it is not. But as a parent of a younger baby, I’m secretly pleased my son can’t zoom off in all directions just yet.
But older children would need great spacial awareness and coordination better than mine to get this round cluttered furniture or through doorways in any formation.
You may well decide that that’s a good thing! If you have Grand Designs open-plan living, a spare church hall or never-ending corridors then knock yourselves out.
How is changing the walker to the different stages?
Changing from one stage to another isn’t something you can do to at the flick of a switch.
It needs disassembling and reconfiguring and although this is a simple 15-minute job you wouldn’t want to do it every day – it’s meant to grow with one child.
That said, you could always work through the stages and go back to the first configuration if you have another little one down the line.
Tell us about the toy panel.
The electronic toy panel is sure to keep the attention of your child, as it’s interactive and bright. It also has two sets of sounds, which ups its entertainment value and helps if one option drives you mad!
I also love the rainbow lights around the perimeter – fascinates my son every time.
I also like the way the panel comes off. So even if Ru has to come out of the walker before he wants to, he can be consoled by taking his bright lights with him when back on ‘dry land.’
At first glance the dashboard can look a bit busy. In reality there are only three moveable parts, the mushroom lever, which moves the ladybird, the panda button, which moves the panda and the mobile phone.
Be warned, this phone – which rings when you push down on it – will continually fall off the dashboard, even without tiny hands touching it.
I still have no idea why the phone has two buttons because when either are pressed they produce an identical squeak.
To be fair, I was much more frustrated than my son when trying to work out what the buttons do. Eventually I unscrewed the back to find out, probably not the best way to spend time, but I had to know! Anyway, it turns out there are two tiny bellows inside, nothing electronic like I’d imagined. Curiosity satisfied, it was easy to put it back together again and before Ru missed it.
You can buy this walker from Kiddicare, Argos or Tesco.
Is the walker value for money?
Yes, I think so. At RRP £79.99 it’s definitely not a cheap walker. But if you’re likely to purchase a push-along and ride-on as well, it’s certainly value for money when you think of what you’d have to fork out for all three.
What’s it like to get started?
There’s no doubt about it, once used to the walker’s nifty design it’s easy to see that by simply arranging the supports and struts this way or the other, the functionality changes.
As Tommy Cooper would say, ‘Just like that’!
However, you have to get to that point first and the instructions could stand to be a lot clearer.
It took me some time and a lot of squinting at the instructions (I got a magnifying glass out at one point) to put it together. It was pretty much trial and error and it took me 40 minutes, which is not great.
The longest part of the assembly was the fact that I had to unscrew the electronic toy panel and hunt down the battery compartment. I then had to hunt down some batteries to go in it.
Seems strange that on quite an expensive item they’re not supplied.
The Chicco 1-2-3 Activity Centre is a bright, fun and cleverly designed walker that’ll grow with your child from 6 months to three years. It’s not the cheapest walker on the market, but as it has three different stages you could save you money in the long run – as long as you have the space to store and use it.