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How Old is Too Old For a Stroller?

Sam Diamond
Nov. 5, 2014

Care.com Question of the Week: Is there a "right" age for a child to stop using a stroller? Care.com families and caregivers share their opinions.

When Parentdish published this article on children and strollers, it created a buzz about laziness in both parents and children. Some people were adamant that school-age children should not ride in a stroller because it encourages an inactive and unhealthy lifestyle. Others defended their own use of strollers based on their children’s circumstances or physical abilities and the usefulness for adults.

We wanted to hear from our own community of parents and caregivers, so we asked about strollers on Care.com's Facebook Page and got a variety of opinions!

Suggested ages for ditching the stroller ranged from one to five years old, with the most popular being three years old.

But for most of you, the issue is not so black-and-white. You pointed out many factors to consider, including the personality of the child, the nature of the outing, the amount of walking required and the type of stroller.

So, how old is too old for a stroller? Here are some thoughts from real parents and caregivers:
 

  1. "One [year old]. Wear 'em out. Otherwise mine run in circles in the living room…"
    ~ Katherine M.
     
  2. "Ditch the stroller, and get a wagon that they can climb in and out of after the age of three. Then you can put things you may need in it, too."
    ~ Kristen M.
     
  3. "I think it's important to teach your child to be independent at an early age. Being obese is an issue in the US and if your kid can walk, they should."
    ~ Melissa A.
     
  4. "I happen to be a firm believer in [using a stroller], for a few reasons:
    You know where your kids are.
    It may prevent child abduction.
    Little legs get tired of walking.
    You can hang your bags on the handles.
    You can continue shopping while they nap.

    There are always going to be negative comments. Do what's best for you."
    ~ Susan R.
     
  5. "Once you're going to Pre-K at four, you're a little too old for a stroller. However I'd probably use a stroller for my five or six-year-old in Disney because that's a lot of walking on some little legs."
    ~ Kristin C.
     
  6. "It's lazy not to teach your kids how to walk without a stroller. I still say bring it just in case your little one gets tired of walking, but every child should get to walk on walks."
    ~ Lori M.
     
  7. "So I shouldn't be putting my 10 year old in the stroller anymore? Just kidding. Depends on the stroller, child and where you're headed (like how much walking you'll be doing). I liked having the stroller when they still weren't potty trained so you had a place to carry all the diaper changing things."
    ~ Kerry L.
     
  8. "Depends on the child, the child's physical ability, the need for security and the distance."
    ~ Kayla D.
     
  9. "Just like every family's needs are different, there is never any one age that is right for every family."
    ~ Ashley C.
     
  10. "For a stroller, I say between two and three. After that, when you need to do a lot of walking (like at the zoo or amusement park) it's time to get a wagon. It's not just about the judging looks from others; it's more about giving your child the independence they need. The wagon allows the choice of walking or riding but with the stroller they are strapped without much of a choice."
    ~ Tonya R.
     
  11. "In 18 years of being a nanny, I've never had a kid willing to ride in the stroller beyond the age of two. Most of my charges have wanted out as soon as they could walk. If they want to walk, I let them. They usually build up quite a bit of stamina by the age of two if they've been walking for a year. I take the stroller in case they get tired for a while, but it becomes a pain."
    ~ Brandy Anne L.
     
  12. "My son stopped using a stroller at one and a half. The rare times he does use it are when he's sleepy or if we have amusement park fun."
    ~ Jazha C.
     
  13. "Generally around four I drop the stroller, but always go with the parents' desires."
    ~ Lindsey R.
     
  14. "It all depends on the child. I would say if your child can walk, listens to you and doesn't stray away from you often, he/she is too old for a stroller."
    ~ Kayla B.
     
  15. "Three, maybe four…depending on the size of the child."
    ~ Jackie H.
     
  16. "I would say when they first start walking keep a stroller and use it when they get tired (it also depends on where you are going). I personally think five is too old. My niece is four and has not used a stroller since she was three and a half... if you let the kid stay in the stroller too much, how can you let them learn to listen? Kids listen if their parents are putting the work in to get them to listen. Also if a kid uses a stroller too long I think it creates laziness."
    ~ Ashley H.
     
  17. "One -- It depends on the stroller. There are all sorts of sizes/models.
    Two -- A baby should not grow out of a stroller but a toddler or young child would. Three -- Some kids require a stroller even if they are too old/big for them. Those kids usually are what we call runners."
    ~ Corey C.
     
  18. "Three to four [years old]. If you're going somewhere where there is a lot of walking and it's going to be hot, I say let your five to six year old ride in one. It's just for the day. But even a three year old wants to walk and explore sometimes. Don't always buckle them in, let them feel the grass and look at stuff. Don't rush!"
    ~ Megan P.
     
  19. "I think it depends on what you're doing. Like going to Disneyland -- I'm not going to make my four year old walk all day. Or going to the mall -- it's way easier to have one for those kinds of things. But to use a stroller every time you go somewhere, in my opinion, is not ok. My daughter loves to walk and that's because I stopped using one when she was three. It's not needed. She can walk; that's what her legs are for."
    ~ Shannon L.
     
  20. "Some kids get tired easy it is just the kid. A six year old may need a short break if it is a long day. No need to judge."
    ~ Jilene L.
     
  21. "As long as it's a safe stroller, I say when they physically don't fit. Heck, sometimes I even wish I had a stroller. So on long board walk trips or super long walk I even let my seven year old jump in if needed. We have a super safe, strong stroller and she fits comfortably. I wouldn't offer it to her unless it was a dire need, but once in a while you just gotta make it work."
    ~ Meg H.
     
  22. "I agree. When they don't fit any longer. I am an older adopted parent with a special needs active child and she rode [in a stroller] up to the summer after her fifth birthday, so I knew she was safe."
    ~ Gloria A.
     
  23. "When naps are no longer a thing. I only put my child and the kids I watch in a stroller if it's coming up on nap time."
    ~ Alexandria W.
     
  24. "I taught my daughter to hold my hand and walk with me at 18 months, but if we went to a place like the fair then she used the stroller till three and a half."
    ~ Katie C.
     
  25. "When they no longer want it. Or when it is no longer safe to have them in one due to size."
    ~ Rose C.
     
  26. "Never! Sometimes I, the mother, need to sit and be pushed!"
    ~ Holly J.
     
  27. "My son is three and I plan on squeezing every last minute that I can out if it. When we're out, I prefer him to be strapped in so I don't have to chase him around."
    ~ Lindsay G.
     
  28. "I think around two or three they should learn to not be in a stroller. It helps teach them to listen. And it helps them to not be lazy. I do think the parent should bring a stroller, because their little legs do get tired faster if it's a lot of walking."
    ~ Ashley H.
     
  29. "When they can walk fully and their feet can touch the ground."
    ~ Cristina R.
     
  30. "Before four years old for sure."
    ~ Taylour Y.
     
  31. "Three years old. After three they can ride in a wagon."
    ~ Susan B.
     
  32. "I have a one-and-a-half and a three-and-a-half year old and bought an incredible Thule double jogger/bike trailer. It's perfect for walks, runs, the zoo, farmer's market, the fair, grocery shopping, water and theme parks. Both kids fit well, room to grow, it's multi-seasonal and reclines so one or both could nap. It carries everything and then some. Both my kids are active climbers and runners but still take afternoon naps. I wish I could go back in time and buy the Thule first instead of the six permutations of infant, umbrella, walker and joggers for single and doubles. If you're a mom with kids under five, it lets you get out of the house with little kids and go do something. Run! Bike! Walks! My fave mom possession so far."
    ~ Rebecca P.
     
  33. "When they don't fit in it safely any more, and/or physically don't want or need it. No black-and-white age for all kids."
    ~ Melissa H.
     

Check out more advice and thoughts from families, nannies and other caregivers.

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