Somewhere around the one-year mark most babies begin to walk. Some practically take off running while others need encouragement. Here are five categories of toys that will help new or emerging walkers practice, build confidence and get moving - with parents in hot pursuit!
Your baby certainly doesn't need a toy in all five of these categories and they'll probably be more interested in some than others. We recommend borrowing toys from friends or trying them out at a friend's house or the playground to see what your baby responds to. Of course, they'll always like someone else's toy better than their own, but it might give you an idea what they'll like best.
(Although we're including links and pricing for the toys pictured above, there are many beautiful, well-made versions of these toys and these are intended as representative of a category of toy.)
• Pull toys give babies a little job to do and can even be used on the floor by pre-walkers. (Happy Hippo pull toy, $18)
• Doll strollers are much sought after (and fought over!) at our local playground. Best for babies who've been walking for a month or two as they are too light-weight to lean on if your baby is unsteady on his or her feet. (Maclaren Junior Quest doll stroller, $30)
• Walking toys should have enough heft to them that they don't go flying forward when your baby leans on them. This Alligator Chomp and Clack by Melissa and Doug ($42) was a favorite of our son's when he was just getting started.
• Balls are good for crawlers as well as new walkers who are motivated to give chase to them. We like the Oball ($8 for this size) and the Edushape balls ($12 for this size) because they're easy to grip and lightweight enough both to be thrown easily and to do minimal damage to other kids or objects in their path.
• Push toys usually make a sound or motion which encourage babies to keep moving forward. (Flapping Penguin push toy, $18)
What are we missing? Is there another type of toy your child found helpful or fun as an early walker?