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La Jolla Mom

How Old Is Too Old for a Stroller?

BY La Jolla Mom

I took our Bugaboo Chameleon to Hong Kong for a few reasons. One is that I turbo around Central Hong Kong quite quickly on foot, at a speed that La Jolla Girl would never cooperate with. You just do a ton of walking, period.

There’s uneven pavement, a ton of people and stairs. And having lived there, I know exactly how to navigate the city with a stroller to minimize all of the aforementioned. Not to mention, when you don’t have a car and taxing in traffic doesn’t make sense, it gets tough to carry a morning’s worth of grocery and other shopping just by foot. I use the stroller hooks and basket to help.

La Jolla Girl is very tall for her age as she just turned 4 and wears a 6x. She’s almost a head taller than most of her friends in Hong Kong that are the same age. When we were in Hong Kong, I can’t tell you how many stares I got and whispers of “That child is too big for a stroller …” and similar. The people were from all races, but they were mostly Americans.

We never use a stroller in the US anymore. I am glad I held on to it, because she broke her foot a few months ago (yet another reason why I brought it to Hong Kong) and it was the only way I could run errands with her when she couldn’t really walk.

In the photo above, we’re at the MTR station waiting for the Disney Resort Line. I took the Bugaboo Chameleon to Hong Kong Disneyland two days after we landed, to try to shake the jet lag. We were totally exhausted and I could not have survived the day without the stroller. It was the only time we took it to Hong Kong Disneyland.

So I ask, how old is too old for a stroller? Is there a socially acceptable age or size? Would you ever criticize another parent for it?

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17 thoughts on “How Old Is Too Old for a Stroller?

  1. I don’t think 4 is too old for a stroller. I think a 5 year old could even be in a stroller. When children get tired of walking and you still have things to do, a stroller is perfect. I think it would be worse if you had to carry a sleeping 4 or 5 year old. As a Mom, I would not criticize another Mom for doing things that make her life easier.

  2. I think it’s totally circumstantial. Your use and for long days at theme parks or walking, of course kids get tired and I think it’s fine! I have a double jogger for my 2 & 4.5YO, and the oldest appreciates it especially at a place like the zoo after walking all day up and down hills.

    For day to day use, we don’t use one with either of ours, their preference. I don’t think there should be a set “you’re too old” rule. I think, like most things, people shouldn’t judge a situation they don’t have the story on, like LJG’s foot!

  3. Of course, I respect parents’ choice yet I wonder about efficiency as a priority in parenting. My biases are in favor of slowing down to kids’ speed, including sidewalk distractions & hazards. Great discussion topic!

  4. I have no memory of when my son (almost 15) stopped riding in a stroller, but I do remember my daughter (soon to be 18) getting kicked out somewhere around the age of three and a half. We felt she wanted to ride so she didn’t have to walk and thought that wasn’t the best in terms of encouraging physical fitness and stamina.

    I don’t understand why other parents/adults would judge something like this. You do what works for you. No explanation necessary.

  5. Some thoughts from a stay at home dad…

    – I would not (openly) criticize another parent for strolling along a child.

    – Propriety depends on the form and fit of the stroller to the kid. If their head is bulging into the stroller’s shade/cover, the kid’s too big — take off the shade. If even after removing the shade, their neck is above the head rest — take out the kid.

    – If after doing that you must stroll your child, consider a wagon or a gurney 😉

    Of course, the real bummer of losing the stroller is that we no longer have a locker-on-wheels for all the crap we tote around. I learned real quick what was actually necessary to carry around town once my youngest kid was done with the stroller. (I still hate carrying around their jackets, though — blame the San Diego weather that’s cool in the morning and beautifully sunny by lunchtime!)

  6. My kids were tall for their ages too. I say let them ride in a stroller as long as you can get them to ride in a stroller. As soon as they’re out of the stroller, you have to start chasing them.

    It’s always easy for others to judge what we do as mothers. But they should remember that they just don’t usually have all the facts. Besides, it’s nobody’s business but your own.

  7. I have a unique perspective on this matter (at least among the comments I’ve read here). I am disabled, and use a wheelchair when lots of walking is required. In those situations, my daughter (now 3.5) does and always has ridden on my lap (when she was a baby I wore a carrier in the chair). When it’s only a moderate amount of walking required or if we are alone and there is no one to push the chair, she uses her stroller and I use it to aid in my mobility. She is always free to get out of the stroller and walk as she wishes, so she is not subject to the stroller because it makes things easier for me.

    Long story short, I don’t think it’s anyone’s business what other parents do. One never knows the story behind something and should therefore we should keep our judgements to ourselves.

    To my way of thinking, a stroller can be very useful in giving a tired child a rest, providing a place for them to nap while on the go, to have a snack or a drink, or whatever the case may be. As long as the child is safe in the stroller, I see no issue with it.

  8. It’s really no one else’s business and if the child is within earshot of the comment, they won’t feel good so it really shouldn’t be a thought that is vocalized. I know that it is common at the Orlando Disney for children as old as 7-8 to use the strollers because it is simply the best way to navigate the parks and better for the child as well. Using a stroller like this does not mean the child in question NEVER walks like Colin in “The Secret Garden” so it is definitely a MYOB situation.

  9. I have a (step) son in 1st grade who’s kind of tall but still just so tiny. We get away with putting him in a stroller in stressful environments because people aren’t really sure if he’s a big 4 year old or a little 8 year old, if that makes any sense. They usually don’t say much. If we don’t put him in a stroller in crowds of people with lots of walking, he panics. We could run into the store for a minute (especially Walmart- he can’t deal with those crowds) and have it turn into one of those 2 hour ordeals, and not think to put him in the cart while we lose track of time. He’ll tug our shirt sleeves and have this wild-eyed look on his face and say, “Can I please get in the cart seat? I don’t care if my classmates see me. All this walking and people is making me nervous!” I think kids sometimes get scared that they’re going to get too tired to finish a shopping trip and get worked up thinking that they’ll miss out on something.

    Unfortunately for my sisters and I…. We were all so tall. At age 3, what a lot of people would consider a normal age for a child to be in a stroller, she looked like she was 6 or 7. People would stop in the middle of the mall and tell my mother that she was ridiculous for putting a kid that big in a stroller (mind you, my mother had more than a few children to monitor, 4 of them very close together in age). I couldn’t imagine having 4 toddlers walking freely in the mall. I just wanted to say to these people, “And how much complaining would you do if my siblings were running around in circles?” My mom didn’t have enough hands to keep up with all of them, and they sure as heck weren’t going to listen to me!

    I think people need to worry more about what their kids are doing and less about what others’ kids are doing. Unless they are somehow directly impacting your situation, why would you care? Like a lot of people have mentioned above, we never know everyone’s story, so who are we to judge?

  10. Hi,

    My son is only 2.5 years and he just fit enough into his Bugaboo stroller because he’s quite tall! I don’t care what ppl said, you know what’s the best for you and your child. I wouldn’t carry him around with my back pain or ask him to walk when he’s tired or cranky.

    There’s one thing that I’d like to ask you when I saw this photo. How you managed to get around in HK with your Bugaboo Cameleon? I have the exact same one for my son however I never took it with me when I went back to Indonesia (it’s my home town). I always worried how you’d get through narrow paths, taxi ride, unreliable public transport, no stairs/ramp/lift with your Cameleon because I think it’s quite big and bulky, let alone how you put it in your baggage at the airport? Did you check it in at the gate or together with your baggage/suitcases? I love my Cameleon so much because it’s comfortable for my son, sturdy enough for me to put my shopping bags and easy to push around. I feel guilty that I haven’t use it much but at the same time I’m worried if it’d become an issue when I travel. I know it might sounds stupid, but I’d really appreciate if you can give me some tips or tricks how to fly and travel around with this stroller. Thanks!

    1. It fit through some turnstiles in Hong Kong, however, there are wider ones for disabled that I would occasionally use. It’s exceeds the allowed check-at-the-gate size so you have to check it as baggage. They have a special transport case that you can order for plane travel. I would have died in Hong Kong without it because it did well on the uneven paths–we didn’t have many narrow ones though. I was able to fold it up and put it in the trunk of taxis too and roll it on to the MTR without trouble. I’ve never been to Indonesia, so am not sure how much harder it would be over there.

      When my daughter hit 2.5 I bought her a Trunki to get through the airport without a stroller on. I could pull her on it (carefully) when she didn’t want to walk. Or, I used a really cheap, lightweight umbrella stroller to check at the gate. Hope this helps!

  11. 3 should really be the cutoff. Strollers are designed and meant for babies and toddlers who don’t have the strength to walk for long distances and/or aren’t at the developmental stage where they can follow directions well. I know parents think it’s easier to push their kid in a stroller even as they get older, but they are really doing the kid a disservice and encouraging laziness.

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