The Newest Innovation in Baby Products: The WalkTall Baby
On occasion, insideSUSSEX travel outside of this beautiful county of ours and venture further afield. In April, our feature writer, Lisamarie Lamb, took a short trip to the Isle of Wight, and it was whilst visiting the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary that she spotted an intriguing and interesting idea in action; a tiny child, out for the day with her parents, was holding on to a curved piece of wood that her father also had a grip on. It let her walk, perfectly easily and happily, and it allowed Dad to stand upright, fully in control but comfortable too. So impressed was Lisamarie that she spoke to the people using it, and discovered more about it. This was the WalkTall Baby, and the couple using it were the creators.
The WalkTall Baby is a fantastic new innovation from husband and wife team Sam and Anna means that parents can help their babies gain confidence in walking, helping them find their feet at an earlier age than they might otherwise do. It’s a wonderful way to allow your child more freedom and excitement whilst also being a comfortable tool for parents to use. We spoke to Anna about this new invention and what the future might hold…
What is the story behind WalkTall Baby?
Our baby Tess learned to actually walk when she was 13 months but she wanted to walk from about 11 months old. Cruising round the furniture was quickly not enough for her and she demanded to be ‘walked’ everywhere, using our fingers as her helping hands. I suppose neither Sam nor I could be described as being in the first flush of youth (!) and are both quite tall, so bending down to walk Tess everywhere was sometimes tricky. We found that by using the WalkTall we stopped having the pain of backache and stayed excited about taking Tess out, particularly as she clearly loved it and felt confident using it.
Sam has always been inventive and often spontaneous. He came home one day brandishing this wooden horseshoe shape that he said would solve everything! Tessie took to it really quickly and soon she was rushing around (like her dad) and using the WalkTall to help her balance and get around everywhere she wanted.
Some of our friends had the same issues and Sam crafted a few for them to try. The comments and pictures we had back were really positive and we had lots of interest from passers-by asking where they could buy one. We decided to take the leap and move into production.
Before coming up with the idea for WalkTall Baby, what were you doing?
Sam is a carpenter and joiner for the local monastery. As well as being responsible for work on the Abbey he designs and builds a lot of bespoke furniture including the renowned Abbey Macrocarpa benches and Abbey tearooms. Outside of work Sam is the person who always has a woodwork project on the go; from fox-proof chicken houses to unique baby rattles for new additions. I think all of our family own one of his famous inlaid hexagonal tables or checkerboard bowls.
I am a clinical psychologist and work for the NHS with adults who have long-term physical health conditions, helping individuals to live their lives to the full and working with the teams who provide services to find the best ways of supporting them to do this. I love the outdoors and flowers in particular, and not being discernably green-fingered, have settled for trying to capture the beauty of nature through my three dimensional silk flower paintings. I have put these on hold now as balancing time with my family, my job and this new business doesn’t leave a lot left over. I have loved how the WalkTall has enabled Tess to go to places and try out new walking experiences, such as hills and pebble beaches that would have been so much more difficult if I had to bend over to hold her hands.
Are you planning to make WalkTall Baby a full time job?
It would be a brilliant thing if we could put 100% of our time into WalkTall Baby! At the moment, we are just starting out, with many of our sales being to friends and friends of friends. Now we have our Facebook page and website, we are getting lots of interest and the kind words and encouraging stories are pouring in. The support from local baby businesses has been amazing and it is a real privilege to be working alongside such inspirational and creative people. It would be wonderful to be able to take WalkTall Baby further!
It’s often said that the best inventions solve problems no one knew they had – do you think that’s the case with WalkTall Baby?
Wow. I think I’m a bit unsure how we answer that. I guess Einstein’s statement that necessity is the mother of all invention is probably most applicable! I can say without any doubt that Sam’s invention changed our lives and helped us to enjoy Tessie’s passion for walking without the usual pain of the process. The feedback we are receiving is so positive – I think parents are seeing that the WalkTall is a very practical solution to a physical problem and valuing how easy it use and take out. It’s very light and strong so it can withstand being tucked down the side of the pram or car boot, transported around and does not have to be used only at home. We have received comments that a WalkTall is particularly useful during shopping trips or longer walks – they can carry the bags and the baby without too much difficulty! Parents of twins have talked about how helpful it is to be able to walk both babies at the same time, saving them from tears, tantrums and the pain of a bad back! It really has helped us to savour this special time in our daughter’s life in the way we wanted to and we are keen to give other parents and their babies the chance to WalkTall and enjoy the pleasure of their baby learning to be independent.
Do you have a favourite WalkTall Baby product? What is the most popular?
I think the classic will always hold a special place in our hearts as this was Tess’ first WalkTall but I really love the vibrancy of ‘Hello Tiger’ and Sam’s favourite is ‘Summer Days’. We chose two of the colours (Purdy’s pink and Summer Days) because of their similarity to the pantone colours of the year. I loved the idea of reflecting connection, wellness and peace in some way within our little and much loved 2016 start-up. I think the personalised hand engraved options provide that special unique touch and are probably the most popular in our range at the moment.
What’s next for you?
We are in the final stages of forming a company and are currently working with a design team to help us streamline our website and logo so that it more easy for us to be recognisable. We are currently still patent pending. It is very important to Sam and I that our business stays local and so we have worked hard to find Isle of Wight and British suppliers of the materials we currently use. We are using this time to look for a local British company who could help us move from home production to a commercial venture as the impact on Sam of crafting all these WalkTalls is somewhat counteracting the benefits of the WalkTall’s original purpose!
How can people buy the WalkTall Baby?
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Each new step feels very exciting. We are thrilled to be in discussion with Mumsnet.com as it’s possible that WalkTall Baby may be up for review by their panel in the near future. This will help us to fulfil our hope of benefitting all new parents, and possibly going global. We are secretly very excited to have sent a hand-engraved WalkTall to Princess Charlotte for her 1st birthday as Kate and Will are both tall and therefore may well be facing the same dilemma we did with Tess. In the future, who knows? We hope that in 2116 there will still be a family-run business enabling parents and babies to have fun, make memories and treasure this fleeting period in their lives together.