I received an infant walker from my mother-in-law as a gift. I have heard that some brands are not safe. How can I know if it is OK to use the type I was given for my daughter?
I am very glad you asked this question, as it is very important for all parents to be aware of the potential risks of infant walkers. All wheeled walkers should be designed to meet national standards that require them to be either too wide to fit through a standard doorway or have some sort of gripping mechanism that makes them stop at the edge of a step (or both).
Even with these nationally recognized "stair-fall safety standards" in place, unsafe models continue to be sold in the United States. Experts share the very real concern that even with added "safety" features, walkers still pose a safety hazard as they offer infants the dangerous ability to move around with surprising speed months before they otherwise would, and years before they develop any sense of caution. As a result, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the US follow Canada's lead and ban walkers from the market, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) does not consider walkers to be a safe option for babies.
In contrast, stationary activity centers offer infants and pre-walkers the same novel and more upright view of the world but without the same risks. It's just important that you make sure not to leave a young baby sitting in one for too long, since a 4- or 5-month-old who is just developing head and neck control and body support may only do well in this position for five to 15 minutes at time until they build up additional strength.
If you haven't already, I suggest that you become familiar with the Consumer Product Safety Commission's website as it is the best source for information regarding recalls and safety concerns for all juvenile products.