Babies usually take their first steps without any support between the ages of 9 and 12 months, and are usually walking well by 15 months. But note that word 'usually': it's perfectly normal for some babies walk earlier than this, and others to walk later.

Advertisement

Before the great 'first step's moment, your child will learn to stand, supported by you (and with gradually reducing rates of wobble) and then will move on to trying to haul themselves up to standing using furniture (or your knees). From there, they'll want to 'cruise': moving from chair to sofa to chair with their hands holding on while their legs move or maybe walking while holding on to you.

How you can encourage those first solo steps

When your child starts trying to take their first steps, try to not to rush them (exciting as it is!). Walking takes time to learn. It could be months between when your baby starting to stand up and them actually being able to walk on their own. In the meantime, it can help to:

  • Give lots of encouragement. Offer a helping hand or something for support, such as a walker, but don’t force them if they are not in the mood.
  • Make sure their feet are bare, where possible, as that way they'll be able more easily to feel the floor underneath them.
  • Go round the house and remove obvious trip hazards. Also move furniture with sharp edges or make sure sharp corners are covered. You might also want to put a soft mat down to cushion falls.
  • Once they're able to cruise, offer walkers and pushalong toys to help strengthen those little legs.

Here's our pick of the best baby walkers and pushalong toys, as tested by babies and rated by parents

1. Little Bird Told Me Dexter Dog Push Along, £109.95

– Best for sturdiness and cuddliness

Age suitability: 12 months+ | Best for age: 12 months+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A walker in the shape of Dexter, a soft, furry padded labrador dog, in a solid wooden frame with wooden wheels and rubber tyres. Dexter has crinkly ears, a button nose, a collar and a squeaker in his tail. Can also be used as a ride-on (up to weight of 20kg). Comes in a display box with carry handle,

Why we love it: Dexter is undoubtedly expensive but he's gorgeous to look at and huggably soft to feel, and the walker itself is sturdy, supportive and well-made. We loved Dexter's squeaky tail and that he's robust enough to be double up as a ride-on toy. When our child tester Theo, 12 months, first saw Dexter, his mum Liey said he crawled straight up to him and gave him a cuddle and kiss. She said Dexter is helping him gain balance and strength in his legs, adding, "Theo loves pushing him around the room, squeaking his tail and crinkling his ears."

Available at: Little Bird Told Me, Amazon and House of Angus

2. Fisher Price Laugh & Learn 3-in-1 On-the-Go Camper, £74.99

– Great for more confident walkers

Fisher Price Laugh & Learn® 3-in-1 On-the-Go Camper

Age suitability: 9 months+ | Best for age: 12 months+| Batteries: 3 x AA (not included)
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A 53cm x 50cm x 35cm plastic light-up activity centre on wheels with a handle for pushing it along. The activity buttons trigger 3 learning levels of phrases, songs and sounds about letters, counting, shapes and colours. Comes with over 10 removable accessory toys, including a camp fire, fishing rod, a coffee pot and a variety of play food.

Why we love it: If your child can already stand solidly and you're looking for a toy that encourages toddling and offers lots of fun play activities, this is the one. It's probably not quite sturdy enough for a just-learning-to-stand baby to use the handle for pulling up to standing but rolls along well and is packed with lots of interactive features. We love the coffee pot that rattles and the turning dial on the little hob. It's also a toy with longevity – the fishing rod that you can use to pick up fish shapes and put on the shape sorter 'cooler' will come into its own as your child gets older and develops more dexterity. Anna, mum of our child tester, Finn, 18 months, said, "My son loves it and – honestly – he plays with it every single day. It's colourful and the sound is fantastic. You get so much for the price."

Available at: Smyths Toys, Amazon and John Lewis

3. Jurassic World Pic & Push T Rex, £20

– Great for crawlers as well as walkers

Age suitability: 12 months+ | Best for age: 12 months+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze, MadeforMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A 35cm-high pushalong dinosaur toy that will pick up colourful plastic rocks in its 'gyrosphere' when it's rolled over them. The gyrosphere can also be detached and rolled along on its own.

Why we love it: This is fun – and adaptable for crawlers as well as walkers by taking the gyrosphere out. The handle is quite short, though (taller toddlers might find they have to crouch a bit) and it does work better on carpet than a tiled or wooden floor. Annika, mum to our child tester Lilijana, 14 months, said, "I love that there are lots of ways the toy can be used. Lilijana loves posting balls into the wheel the most, wheeling it back and forth, and putting one ball on the top slot."

Available at: Argos and John Lewis

4. My Child Roundabout 4-in-1 Activity Walker, £99.99

– Great for younger babies

Age suitability: 6 months+| Best for age: 6 months+ | Batteries: 4 x AA (not included)
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A plastic 44cm x 74cm x 66cm sit-in walker/rocker/bouncer/activity centre with no-tip safety pads and a (lockable) 360° rotating seat that adjusts to 3 different positions. Comes with a padded back rest, removable bouncing board, 2 detachable toy trays with sounds, songs and lights. The seat pad is machine-washable.

Why we love it: This is a great choice for getting younger babies used to the idea of being upright and using their legs to move around – either by bouncing, spinning or scooting along on the wheels. And with a good selection of toys to rattle, slide and push, not to mention lights and sounds, there's a lot else to hold your baby's attention. Jennifer, mum of our child tester Faye, 14 months, said, “"It’s brilliant for play time, allowing your child some independent play while being safe at the same time. It's helped my daughter find her feet and it keeps her occupied for quite a while." We like how the toy tray is removable, so your child can play with this separately out of the walker, but – truth be told – it would be nice to have a volume control for the music as it can be a little loud.

Available at: My Child, Amazon and Pram World

5. Fisher-Price 3-in-1 Sit, Stride and Ride Lion, £54.99

– Great for developing number skills

fisher price lion walker

Age suitability: 9 months+ | Best for age: 1 year | Batteries: 3 x AA (included)

What it is: A 42cm x 78cm x 42cm light-and-sounds plastic lion that can be ridden on and pushed along. It has 10 light-up buttons to push to develop number recognition and if you push its nose, it will play songs, sounds and phrases. Comes with 3 balls for feeding time (drop them into the lion's mouth and they pop out of the little arch below).

Why we love it: With all those push-button phrases, flashing lights, songs and sounds, this is not a toy for quiet play! But it pushes (and scoots) well and is nice and sturdy. And we – and all our child testers – love balls for feeding the lion with. We only wish there was a spot under the seat for storing the balls in when play is finished.

Available at: Amazon

6. Vtech First Steps Baby Walker, £28

– Great for detachable activity centre

v tech walker multicoloured

Age suitability: 6 months+ | Best for age: 9 months+ | Batteries: 3 x AA (not included)

What it is: A 46cm x 40cm x 45cm walker with a detachable activity centre, textured wheels and easy-grip handle. The activity centre features light-up buttons, a shape sorter, animal buttons, gears and a play phone. Comes in red or pink.

Why we love it: The detachable activity centre is great – loads for little fingers to get busy with and lots of lights and (loud) sounds – which makes it a good purchase for a baby who's a way off mastering the art of walking. The walker function is smooth enough but our child testers' parents reported that it's a bit slippy on wooden floors. It also flips over a little more easily than we'd like, so it's probably not suitable in this mode for a still-pretty-wobbly-legged toddler.

Available at: Amazon and Argos

7. Chicco Gardener Baby Walker 2 in 1 Move and Grow, £20

– Great value

Chicco Gardener Baby Walker 2-in-1 Move and Grow

Age suitability: 9 months+ | Best for age: 9 months+ | Batteries: 2 x AA (not included)

What it is: A 42cm x 44cm x 45cm lights-and-sounds plastic walker with textured wheels and a shaped handle. The front features an interactive shape sorter and garden-themed activity buttons, including a sliding ladybird, a rolling sun and flowers that light up and play music when you 'water' them the watering can.

Why we love it: This is a lovely walker that offers a lot of play value for a great price. It's nice and solid, and our child testers really loved the watering can feature, and the shape sorter that plays funny sounds. Our only gripe is that the shape sorter is only really accessible if a child is standing; a sitting child wouldn't be able to reach the holes.

Available at: Argos

Advertisement

About the author

Helen is Deputy Editor of MadeForMums, the author of Parenting for Dummies (Wiley, £17.99) and the Head Tester for our MadeForMums Toy Awards. She has written about parenting for Mumsnet, Pregnancy & Birth, Prima Baby, Boots Parenting Club and She Magazine and she's also been Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby. She has 3 boys and a heavy-duty washing machine.

Read more...

Authors

Helen Brown
Helen BrownHead of Content Delivery

Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies. Before joining MadeForMums over 7 years ago, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement