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After a lot of debate and thought we decided to purchase two baby walkers for my twin boys. After reading about the negatives of baby walkers and taking these into consideration I still decided to go ahead with the purchase; it is a toy that most of my friends children and other children have had in our family have had and not had any problems with. We own static activity stations which were the suggested alternatives to baby walkers however the issue is these are static and my boys like to move around the room. So we decided to purchase the Chicco Sketching Baby Walker.
***Chicco Sketching Baby Walker*** The Chicco Sketching Baby Walker is standard baby walker which comes with a detachable toy tray. The walker itself is made from a bright yellow sturdy plastic base and has a bright blue, yellow and green plastic section on top. The seat of the walker is heavily padded and has a white patterned design. The padded seat is removable and can be washed.
The toy tray is detachable there is a steering wheel which has a horn and can be turned. This makes various sounds. There are also a number of buttons which light up and play various sounds and melodies. There is also a key on the toy tray which when turned makes a revving engine sound. The walker requires two size AA batteries (which are not supplied) in order for the toy tray to work. The toy tray clips out and you are a left with a hollowed out tray which you can put other toys or food on for your baby
The walker has been designed in order to be safe and supportive to a baby. The walker has 3 different height positions and the seat is heavily padded with a rigid backrest in order to offer maximum support to a baby's back.
***Suitability*** The Chicco Sketching Baby Walker is suitable for babies from 6 months to 15 months (or until a child is able to walk). The walker is not suitable for babies over 11kg (25lbs) or taller than 85cm in length. Before using the walker you should ensure that your baby can support their head.
Although the walker states it is suitable from 6 months old and has 3 different height settings it does not mean it will be suitable for all babies immediately. My boys are very small (under the 0.4 percentile for height and weight) and could not touch the floor at this age which is why we waited until around 8 months to purchase these. My friends little girl at 6 months was at the 50th percentile for her height (therefore considered to be completely average height for a baby of her age) and she could just touch the floor on the lowest setting with her toes. My boys at 11 months old could just touch the floor and move about on their own.
Chicco states that walkers should not be used for more
than 20 minutes at a time.
***Availability*** The Chicco Sketching Baby Walker is available from a number of retailers including Mothercare, Toys R Us, Asda and Tesco.
The RRP for the walker is £49.99 however if you shop around you will always be able to find a special offer on the product. In October 2010 I purchased two of these baby walkers for £34.99 from Mothercare which I think is excellent value for a baby walker considering you can pay up to £90 for one. Although a lower price the walker does not feel cheap and it is well made and sturdy.
***Using the Baby Walker*** The Chicco Sketching Baby Walker advertises itself to be "easy self-assembly" and I feel that this is not the case. The baby walker comes in a flat pack and the baby walker is probably in around 12 different parts. The instructions are very thorough and easy to follow, however putting the different pieces of the walker together is very fiddly and requires a screwdriver (and lots of patience). Mr Lools had the job of assembling two of these walkers and it took him around 40 minutes for the first walker and 30 minutes on the second.
Once set up the walkers look very attractive. The walker itself looks very sturdy as the base is wide and is very attractive as it is bright and colourful. We started using the walkers when my boys were 8 months old. We set the walker on the lowest height setting however my boys feet were nowhere near touching the floor. My boys are very small ( at this point wearing 0-3 months sized clothing) therefore this was partially expected, however it took until they were 11 months old before their toes could just touch the floor. Therefore for those with smaller babies they may find the walker is not particularly suitable.
Mr Lools and I found that although the boys could not move around the room themselves they did enjoy being pushed around by one of us. This defeated the object of buying these as a way of encouraging them to walk and even entertain themselves in the kitchen whilst I was in the same room making food or putting washing in but it did keep them entertained much more than the static activity stations which my boys got bored of very quickly.
In order to keep your baby safe when using a baby walker they should not be used on an elevated surface and should be constantly supervised by an adult. I would also say that you should ensure that all items are removed out of a babies reach as walkers can help them get into things that they shouldn't. I found being in the walker my boys could get closer to side tables and were able to pull things off the tables more so than if they were out of the walker.
The walker has a detachable toy tray which sits in front of your child when in the walker. The base of this tray is kidney shaped and about 40cm wide by 30cm high. On this tray there is a steering wheel which turns and makes noises which has a horn to make beeping noises. There are 6 buttons on the tray which play sounds and music. There is also a key which you can turn which mimics and ignition and when turned makes the sound of an engine revving. There is a button which sets the "mode" of the toy bar. It is possible for the buttons to play music or play animal sounds therefore there are some learning features to the walker. There is the option to have the sound level on full or half volume which I think as a parent is great because on full volume the sounds and music is very loud and quite annoying especially if you have a child that likes to spend 5 minutes solidly turning the key that makes the sound of an engine revving!
My boys love the toys and are always entertained by these toys, in fact often used to cry to go back in the walker after they had been in for 20 minutes and I would take them out.
My friends little girl has the same walker and my friend gives her finger foods whilst in the walker. The design of the toy bar on the walker means food gets stuck in between and under the buttons which makes it very difficult to clean and has stopped the buttons from working. I have given my boys fruit whilst in the walker but taken the toy bar off so they have a tray instead which has kept the toy section in excellent condition and all buttons are still fully functional despite the buttons taking a regular bashing. The toy tray has two clips on one either side which when pressed at the same time the toy tray lifts out. It is not possible for a child to do this and does require some force for an adult to do so.
Being able to remove and wash the padded seat is very useful because as it is white it does get dirty quite quickly. I have hand washed and put this on a cool wash and it has washed well and all stains were removed. The seat also fitted back into place fine after being washed.
To adjust the height settings you must do this when no child is in the walker. You simply press a button and hold a lever down and the walker moves up and down into three different positions. These positions are set therefore when the walker is in the correct position the button clicks down and you know the walker is locked safely into position. If walker is in between a height position it will not click and the walker will not stay in place and just fold.
The walker is very durable and sturdy the wide base on the walker makes this sturdier than other baby walkers we looked at. The walker has taken some bashing and my boys regularly crash the walker
Pictures of Chicco DJ Baby Watcher Sketching
Chicco DJ Baby Watcher Sketching
into skirting boards and there are no scuffs on the walker it looks as good as new (although my skirting boards have taken some scuffs). I would no way describe this as a "safe" toy and a toy you could allow your child to play with unattended however I have found even at speed the boys have not tipped out of the walker or injured themselves. I always intervene when they start moving too quickly however we have one occasion where one of my twins crashed into the dining room table leg at speed and the walker stayed firmly on the ground. We have always used the walker on laminate or tiled floors and the walker does move quite fast and you do need to take care as your child gets older they can pick up some speed when playing in this. We have used this on carpet and have found that the walker still moves fine however a child will need to make a little more effort to get moving.
Developmentally some would argue that a baby walker will encourage walking from babies as it strengthens their legs and encourages them to make walking movements. I would probably say although for some it may be the case personally I feel children will walk when they are ready which varies from different children and is not based on if they have used a baby walker. In our experience the Chicco walker was more of an entertaining toy rather than one that encourages physical development as my boys could not touch the floor to make walking movements, which will be the case for many other smaller babies. The toy bar does have some learning features and will introduce animal noises to children however they are very basic and the toy tray is definitely more entertaining rather than educational.
***Overall*** If you have made the decision to purchase a baby walker than the Chicco Sketching is a good choice. The baby walker is colourful and the detachable toy bar has lots of flashing lights and car sounds to keep your little one amused. My boys are fascinated by the steering wheel on the tray and are entertained allowing me to get on with tasks whilst supervising them playing with the walkers in the same room. Although baby walkers are great for keeping children amused you do need to supervise children constantly as there are a lot more dangers associated with them than the alternatives of static activity stations.
This is a bulky item and although the baby walker folds it does take up a reasonable amount of storage space. It is also not as suitable for smaller shorter babies and reaching the floor can be difficult therefore limits the effectiveness of the toy.
At £40 this is a reasonably priced baby walker and is made to a good quality which is strong and durable. As a baby walker has only limited use for a child and they soon outgrow it once they can walk in my opinion it is not worth breaking the bank over.
~~~Also posted on Dooyoo 2011~~~~~