Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Stroller kids

Lately I've been noticing children (not babies or toddlers) in strollers a lot lately. Other writers have been noticing too--Zosia Bielski in the Globe & Mail, Margaret Hartmann at Jezebel, to name just a couple--likely because of Too Big For Stroller*, a blog that makes fun of stroller-riding big kids & their parents. (Here's a Salon interview of the blogger) Probably I notice because I'm always checking out other people's strollers & how well or poorly they work. But mostly it's just because these kids are big. Big, like 60 pounds big. Some of them look like they're well old enough to be in elementary school. I'm willing to give some of them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they're just big for their age. However, they can't all be.

Before I really get going, I'd like to say that I'm not writing this to judge parents. I'm coming at this from the perspective of a parent who knows she'll be facing this question herself in a few years. I'm also just really curious about why bigger kids are in strollers these days, compared to in the past. Is it that strollers are getting sturdier & more able to accommodate older kids? I know ours has a weight limit of 50 pounds. Even if your child is at the 95th percentile for weight, s/he's going to be five years old before s/he hits 50 pounds!** The average kid is about 50 pounds at the age of seven.** Maybe since parents often pay $500-1000 for one, they want to get their money's worth out of it. Or is it that children are somehow becoming less able to walk due to more sedentary lifestyles? Is it that parents are trying to cover too many miles on outings? Or is it about safety? Perhaps parents want their children contained, rather than running around in busy public places? (though most of the big kids I see in strollers are not actually strapped in & were old enough to easily undo the harnesses & escape, anyway)

One of the commenters on the Salon interview points out that "people think it's somehow "immoral" to not expend energy. Sitting when you could be walking is viewed as a sign of poor character." She also criticizes the writer of Too Big for Stroller, saying that she "has no idea which kids are able-bodied and healthy. Some may have invisible disabilities or illnesses." Whatever the reasons these kids are in strollers (& I seriously doubt any significant percentage are disabled or ill), what I worry about is the future health of this generation of kids. If they're riding around in strollers a lot of the time (which seems unlikely, but I have no way of knowing) that doesn't bode well for their future activity level. Isn't this just setting them up for a life of riding motorized vehicles instead of cycling (or kayaking or other human-powered travel), watching sports rather than playing & just a lot more sitting? It has nothing to do with laziness or work ethic, I'm just concerned that this may be one more reason children will grow up to be much less healthy than their parents: a generation already suffering from ridiculous rates of obesity (in North America, anyway) & related health problems.

So, my dear readers, I ask you: have you noticed this trend when you're out & about? If you have older children, when did they stop riding in the stroller? Do you have memories of riding in a stroller as a small or not-so-small child? Why do you think kids are staying in strollers longer?

*Sadly, I can't access the blog: Firefox tells me it's a server error. Could you see it? Or maybe it's been taken down...
**According to these growth charts.


  1. I've also seen a lot of big kids in strollers. And I find it very weird too. However...Jonah started refusing to ride in his stroller at about 18 months, and that was the end of that. The girls are 21 months, and started to get annoyed with the stroller, but I plan to keep them in as long as possible (about a year more I think) just for crowd control! The stroller is rated for 40 lbs in each seat, but I can't imagine how a 40 lb child would fit in it. Jonah weighs 40 lbs!

  2. I've seen this too and I agree with your comments. I put our regular stroller away when Emily is 3.5 and the only time she gets a ride is in the bike trailer or when I use the trailer as a running stroller. I am beginning to feel that she is even to big for that but otherwise I don't get to run. She is not ready to ride her bike while I run yet so if I can't get a babysitter...

    I tend to think that because there has been an increase in the number of larger young children the manufacturers have increased the weight limits on a lot of baby stuff and some parents of older kids are taking advantage of it. Like you I worry this will just serve to facilitate a sedentary lifestyle.

  3. I am on the "judge not, lest ye be judged" side of the fence. My three and a half year old pretty much walks or run-bikes everywhere, up to 5K so far! BUT....when we go to Stanley Park this weekend for Vancouver 125 celebrations, and we'll be out all day with TONS of stimulation? She will most likely spend some time in the stroller to chill out while her baby sister hangs out in the ergo. That's what we did on our recent trip to Disneyland/Legoland/San Diego....and I'd be annoyed if people who didn't know how long our days were judged that she should be out walking (which she was most of the time!). I'm certain there are big kids who do not belong in strollers, but it's hard to judge. Oh and with two or more kids there is added complexity, preschooler-meltdowns, needing to contain one while changing the baby's diaper so we don't have a runaway etc.


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