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July 2, 2021

Vintage Photos of Babies Learning to Walk With a Wicker Frame From the Early 20th Century

Does a baby walker help a child learn to walk? Some are clearly intended for walking practice. Others seem to be more for adult convenience. Though similar un-wheeled wicker walkers can help babies get around, those in the pictures seem to be rather restrictive.

Baby walkers were known as early as the 15th century in Europe. An illumination in the Hours of Catherine of Cleves, a Dutch manuscript from that time, depicts the infant Jesus in a wooden baby walker. The 16th century medical writer Ferrarius recommended them for training an infant to walk. In the 17th century they were taken as a symbol of mastering a skill through constant exercise. And the idea of encouraging a child to be upright, both physically and morally, appealed to some.

Go-cart was a common historical name for the wheeled version. Other alternatives were also used. A baby-runner was a padded wooden ring, set at the height of the baby's waist, on a pole that was fixed into the floor and ceiling. The baby was placed inside the ring and able to move in a circle around the pole. This prevented the baby from reaching dangerous places, such as hot ovens.


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