VTech walker on the left, Tidlo on the right. Roo has perfected the art of using both at the same time!
Being a rather discerning kind of mummy and one who is following the Montessori philosophy (albeit loosely) I chose the Tidlo wooden walker for my son. We were both very happy with it, he can’t walk yet but he can spin those spinny things like a crazy spinarooney.
When my aunt handed down the VTech Babysteps walker to us, I originally thought I could pass it on to a friend. But wait! This is a great opportunity to show people how the classical wooden toys will prevail over electronic, flashing, noisy ones!
Or so I thought…
Let’s start with the Features:
The Tidlo walker has three things that spin, some discs that can be moved and a wheel that can be turned. It has a shelf at the back so that the child can push their toys around the room and it is a fair bit taller than the VTech walker.
The VTech walker has 10 buttons that can be pressed, a butterfly book that can be opened, some gears that can be turned and three spinning wheels. Oh and did I forget to mention that it makes loads of noises and it flashes a lot?!
The first time that I introduced Roo to the Tidlo walker he was jumping with joy. I showed him how to spin one of the spinny thingies and he carried on doing that for 10 minutes. He still crawls over to it and is getting better at manipulating the different parts of it. He can sit and play with it for about 10 minutes before getting bored.
The VTech walker seemed to bemuse Roo the first time I put him in front of it. I’m not surprised, it bemused me too. However, once he had worked out how to open and close the butterfly book, he was happy to do that for about 15 minutes. He has now got used to all of the lights and sounds and whenever he loses interest it cunningly plays a little tune to regain his attention. Today he played with this for half an hour straight!! But he also played with a plastic spoon for that long so I’m not sure what that says about the walker (or babies for that matter).
I prefer having the Tidlo walker sitting in my living room, just because it is wooden with less garish colours so it doesn’t stand out so much in the evenings when I’m trying to watch Grey’s Anatomy. The freaky nature of the VTech’s playing-noises-randomly feature means that it scares the living daylights out of us when it springs into action.
Reuben can’t walk yet so I tested out the walking feature. I can walk with both of them.
I wish, oh how I wish, that the Tidlo walker fared better in this review. However, at £35 it is £15 more expensive than the VTech which keeps Reuben’s attention just as well, if not for longer.
HOWEVER, sometimes when you press a button it says a letter, sometimes a note and sometimes a tune. It took me a long time to figure out that when the butterfly is open, the vTech piano keys play notes, and when the butterfly is closed the piano keys play letters. Reuben will probably never figure this out. It is almost too complex to work out how the vTech responds to your actions. Certainly too complex for someone in his age group to understand.
With the Tidlo walker Reuben can learn clearly that for his action there is one predictable reaction that he can see right in front of him. From this he can learn that his actions have consequences, that he can control the environment around him and how things work. The Tidlo walker’s reactions are predictable and repeatable. I believe these concrete ideas need to be learnt before an introduction into the complexities of electronics.
In my view the vTech walker is entertaining and amusing, but doesn’t provide as concrete a learning experience to an 8-month old child as the Tidlo walker.
So which would I buy?
(But Reuben would probably choose the VTech!)