Almost all baby walkers tested in a survey failed at least one safety test - a result child safety advocates say shows parents do not realise the danger their children could be in.

A Consumer NZ investigation tested 10 walkers against safety standards set by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. Nine of the walkers did not fully meet the standards.

Some were not designed so they could not fall over a step, and others were criticised for lack of sturdiness and for having poor warning labels.

The New Zealand supplier of two of the walkers tested says the product passed in-house tests.


He attributed the failure to a "difference of opinion" between those tests and those of the ministry.

Consumer NZ bought 10 walkers from chain stores, online retailers and Trade Me and tested them.

The chief executive of Consumer NZ, Sue Chetwin, said she was surprised at the high number of walkers that did not meet the standards.

Ms Chetwin said "the big test" was a walker's ability to stop on a step edge. Seven of the walkers tested failed this assessment.

"The walkers were pulled towards the step ... They all stopped at the edge, but when we tested them with a dummy [to imitate a baby], a few of them toppled over."

All walkers sold in New Zealand are tested for stability, structural integrity, ability to come to a stop when in motion and safety warnings.

Suppliers of walkers involved in Consumer NZ's investigation say they are not at fault.

Brent Nuttal, product manager of Baby City, which distributes the Chicco and Little by Little walkers, said his company's tests showed both were safe.

The Chicco walker was the only product to pass all the Consumer NZ safety checks, but the Little by Little walker failed the step test and had inadequate warnings on the label.

Mr Nuttal attributed the failure of the Little by Little walker to "a difference of opinion" between the official tests and Baby City's tests.

"The testing report on our walker showed it had passed that [step test] in a laboratory in China.

"We apply the same tests to our walker that is done for the American market, and it passed that test."

He said Baby City used an updated version of the American standards.

"We get them [walkers] tested overseas, to the highest possible standards. The standard that we're advised is the highest possible is the American one we use."

The supplier of the Super Nanny walker - which was taken off the market after the Consumer NZ investigation - said it met European safety standards.

"It has a safety standard but it's not recognised by New Zealand," said a company spokesman.

"We collected all the [Super Nanny] baby walkers, ceased sales and ceased advertising ... Customers who purchased the products were sent letters advising they could return the product and have it replaced."

Ann Weaver, director of Safe Kids, New Zealand's national injury prevention service for children, said the report highlighted issues with imported walkers.

"We are concerned at how some baby walkers are brought into New Zealand that don't meet the standards and ... are particularly concerned at how walkers contribute to the high number of fall-related incidents."

Mrs Weaver also said many people did not realise the risks involved in putting their children in walkers.

"People think children are safe ... in fact, the baby walker can assist in elevating the child so the child can reach things that are higher - a hot cup on a table or a jug cord dangling down from a bench top.

Plunket's national child safety adviser, Sue Campbell, said her organisation advised against the use of baby walkers.

"They give a baby increased mobility where they can reach things and get to things fast that they wouldn't normally get to," she said.

"Learning to crawl and moving around on the floor is the natural thing for these babies."

* For safety around the home
* Child safety