Whether it’s a crumb-strewn home-on-wheels, or one of those things that only makes its way out of the closet and into the light of day on special occasions, there’s one question every parent who has ever used a stroller has to face: how old is too old for your little traveller to be pushed around? The question, of course, has as much to do with Baby than it does with the stroller, but that’s the only obvious part of the answer, since guidelines for when to set strollers aside are blurry and hard to find.
Stroller weight limits
Technically, weight limits have the last word in the argument over the latest possible time to stop using a stroller, unless you want to go shopping for a newer, bigger one. Most strollers have a weight limit of around 50 pounds though, which can carry many children straight through kindergarten and into grade school, which many parents find to be inappropriately old to still be using a stroller. The biggest argument against late stroller-use as children get older, besides the fact that it can be physically hard on parents, is that it stands in the way of children getting enough exercise to develop and strengthen their muscles. The official recommendation from the Center for Disease Control says that children should get about an hour of physical activity a day, and the UK’s National Health Service recommends that young children should get about 3 hours of activity in a day. However, both of those totals can be reached while still using a stroller for travel, as long as parents make sure exercise is happening somewhere else.
Many parents decide to stop stroller use when their children are walking fairly steadily on their own, and are trustworthy enough that their parents won’t have to worry that they’ll run off or wander into the road. This often happens around 3 or so. Some children are either more unruly or more easily tired, and their parents might decide they’re better suited to staying in a stroller a little longer, at least on certain trips, while other children reject their strollers and demand to walk everywhere earlier. In many ways, the decision of when it’s time to step away from the stroller has more to do with the individual family’s home and lifestyle, or the individual child’s needs, than it does with the child’s age.
Environmental factors and circumstantial evidence
Families who live in cities might stick with strollers a bit longer than families who have fewer crowds to navigate through. This makes sense given that most toddlers don’t listen perfectly well, and definitely don’t know their way home. On the other hand, distance can also play a role, with parents leaving the stroller at home for jaunts around the neighborhood once Baby is walking, but hauling it out if they need to travel a couple of miles to spare those little legs.