We borrowed the Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Activity Walker from the cousins. This was the very first walker that Matthew used.
We decided to introduce a walker toy when Matthew was pulling up on the coffee table at 15 months and teach him to walk with it. He was also creeping (on his hands and knees) at this point. Being a visual and kinesthenic learner, we moved his legs for him one at a time just to show him the motions. We didn't get very far with this as he clearly wasn't ready to move forward on the walker yet.
After a month of trying it on and off, he began to take a few steps with it while leaning heavily on it. He took steps with his arms bent and his chest right up against the handle. It supported his weight without a problem.
Another month later, he was leaning less on the walker. However, there were a couple of instances when it slipped out from under him when the front part ran over a rubber ball, lifting the two front wheels. With him leaning on the handle, which was directly over the two back wheels, the walker reared up and sent Matthew crashing down. He was upset moreso because of the bad surprising fall. He was not injured. This would not have happened had he not been using the handle to support most of his weight.
The ability to steer came in the 5th month after introducing the walker. He was 20 months old. At this point, he was cruising from one piece of furniture to another and cruising along the sliding glass door and other flat surfaces (perpendicular to the ground). He was hardly relying on the walker to support him. He was not walking independently yet.
He began taking several independent steps at 21 months.
Pros and Cons
- Lightweight yet sturdy.
- Collapsible for easy storage or transport.
- Perfect height for Matthew when he started. He is generally in the 40th - 50th percentile for height in the growth chart for boys with Down syndrome.
- No fancy bells and whistles and lights on this walker but it does sound out when tapped or upon impact with another solid object. I think that the less distraction there was on the walker, the more it will be used as a walker rather than just a "sit-down-and-play" toy.
- Good for pulling up as long as Matthew wasn't completely relying on it to stay put. It can roll away.
- Easy to steer on carpet (berber), linoleum, hardwood, and tile.
- It has slipped out from underneath Matthew twice when the two front wheels ran over a small rubber ball and lifted off the floor. As long as all four wheels are grounded, then it's fine.
- Climbers would be tempted to climb the front side. Not safe as it could roll away, especially on non-carpeted flooring.
Better walkers by Fisher Price or other toy manufacturers might exist. But overall, this walker served us well except for the unfortunate slip-ups, which could've been avoided. This is by no means a bad starter walker and I'm glad we have it. It will see more use soon when Elizabeth gets up and moving.