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One of my daughters is still begging for her stroller despite me attempting to wean her off of it. I occasionally allow it for long outings that could be a little tiring for her little feet, but on the whole I don't allow her to use it anymore.

I personally think 5 year olds should be almost stroller free, even on long outings - but can't bring myself to deny her it on long days.

What are your thoughts?

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    Without actually answering the question, maybe consider some alternatives. A wagon, tricycle, or bike are all ways a 5 year old can keep up without as much exertion. Also consider taking a break during outings to sit and relax a bit. – zzzzBov Aug 14 '17 at 14:05
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    I find that after they turn 3 its almost better to not use the stroller because it will allow them to exercise and get some pent-up energy out. Which in turn means less stress in the house-hold. – Mark Rogers Aug 14 '17 at 15:13
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    Does she have reasons? "My feet hurt", "but Bobby gets to", and "this part of the outing is boring" may lead to different solutions without resorting to flat denials. – user26011 Aug 14 '17 at 15:50
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    Interesting. When I'm out walking, I more often see this the other way around: the parent is pushing a child in a stroller who seems much too old to be in a stroller, and the kid is squirming and screaming, strapped in and trying to get out. Often the parent is trying to shut the kid up by shoving a sippy cup of juice in his/her face. To me, a stroller is something you use with a baby. If the kid is 2 and able to walk, s/he should be walking, unless it's some special situation like you're a single parent in an airport and you're trying to manage baby, toddler, and luggage. – Ben Crowell Aug 15 '17 at 1:24
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    No, a five-year-old stroller isn't too old. – maxathousand Aug 15 '17 at 13:20

10 Answers 10

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Yes. Five years old is way too old for a stroller. I personally think a five-year-old should be completely stroller free, not just almost.

Humans are animals, just like all other animals that roam the Earth and we were given two legs to use. As such, not using them for their intended purpose leads to atrophy, decay, and laziness. Walking is exercise thus builds muscle and bone density.

If a long outing is too much, take frequent breaks. It's OK to rest. Or, if it really is too much, may those long outings should be avoided altogether.

Granted, if a child has some more sort of medical condition (not disclosed in the question but just adding to be well-rounded) that limits mobility, then by all means, use a stroller. Other than that, use those legs. It's good for them.

Update for if I came off as harsh. There's a fine line between not letting a child grow too quickly and spoiling them. We had a long day today. So while my son hasn't been a stroller in years, his feet do hurt. I type this while giving his little feet a massage. Force them to grow gradually but at the same time support that pressure that comes with growing.

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    This is an interesting answer from a physiological point of view. Most animals are quadrupeds (or more in the case of insects, etc.) Being bipedal comes at a significant price. As an adult, a stroller is analogous to an automobile. I agree with you that 5 is too old for a stroller... most of the time. The exception for us was Disneyworld. Love that you're massaging his feet! +1 – anongoodnurse Aug 14 '17 at 13:31
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    Irrelevant for OP's question, but as one who once carried a near 5-year old who was deeply asleep back home after a firework, I'd put forward that I was wishing there had been a stroller that day for the better part of the 20 or so minute walk. Not that the kid was heavy, but damn do they seem heavy when they're asleep. – Denis de Bernardy Aug 14 '17 at 20:07
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I've used them until what ever age we found them useful, same with carrying my kids. If your child is constantly asking, then I'd get a health checkup. Children by that age, in a fun place, will nearly always prefer the freedom of walking. I was only ever asked to push or carry if they were tired & we had a long way to go. While others have said, take breaks, I agree other than it's not always really feasible. I have had times with kids of all ages & the 5yr old might be done walking just as the baby is getting sleepy & if we stop now, baby is going to cry, if we keep on, baby sleeps & 5 yr old is pushed & life is well. I also can't lie that I like the stroller, not so much for my kids, but for the things I want to take, or a wagon, that works as well, but you need a good wagon then, not the the type that has one hand dragging it behind. That is not great for your back. But if someone wants to ride they can, but I will be sad when my youngest outgrows a feasible age to take it along, she is 3 now & never sits in it. I just take it because it is handy to have a push cart with us.

You also have to look at potential motivations. My one son hated strollers since being a baby, so he never really rode in one. Then when I had the next, he was 3 & suddenly he wanted a stroller, so I got one. He would ride in it when we arrived to any new location for maybe 10 minutes before deciding it wasn't great and then want out. I could have said, "No, that is for babies, you can walk, blah blah blah" but I also knew he was really saying, "Will you go above & beyond for me too? Do I still matter? Can I still be little even with a new baby around?" So it lasted maybe a few months that he would ask, generally he would just ask before we went if he could ride when we got there & then by the time we arrived, he was over that. It wasn't hard to accommodate & eventually he realized that I still loved him, he still mattered & riding in strollers was really not fun.

** I also have a friend whose child has a terminal illness that means he tires easily. He outwardly looks fine. He is 5. She gets so many dirty looks when out with him. For that reason, I'd never ever suggest any of us think we know an age when something is "too old" when it comes to anyone other than our own. You can't know what is happening with other people & with her child deteriorating, the last thing she ever needs are dirty looks, yet I've seen people give them.

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    +1 for second paragraph, being the older sibling is tough! – self.name Aug 15 '17 at 17:21
  • Being the youngest was the best. – SomeShinyObject Aug 17 '17 at 9:34
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One way to look at this is to ask the alternative - would you have to carry her?

If you are okay with carrying, then doing away with the stroller may be a good idea. But remember 5 year olds can get quite heavy after a few miles.

My wife and I quite liked rucksack carriers for ours - reasonably comfy, and spread the load across the shoulders, so we could go off road easily, but even then, at that age they should be able to walk for miles. If they struggle, just stop for a rest, a snack or a drink.

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    Heh, my 5yo can get heavy after a few hundred feet! It is important to consider what the alternative is going to be when they get tired... – JPhi1618 Aug 14 '17 at 14:41
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    @JPhi1618 Then stop feeding your 5 year old so many feet! – Shane Aug 14 '17 at 20:59
  • It also makes sense to note how much difference in size there is from one 5yr old to another. Then there is also how fit are you to handle carrying? I can (and have) carried a child half my weight for a few hours in a back carry with a good carrier, as it transfers all weight to my legs. I didn't find it awful, but the last bit was a push. I am a very active person and I know not all people have the stamina to do that nor the benefit of a "good back" etc to not have a lot of pain when trying that. I have been very lucky that I have no injuries or issues to deal with. – threetimes Aug 15 '17 at 20:40
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I'll add to SomeShinyObject's mention of disability because I have specific experience of a non-obvious medical condition that can cause this issue in older children.

If she has lower body hypertone, or hyper flexibility, and it can be quite subtle, she may be genuinely suffering after a while. This isn't a judgement you can make purely on the basis of age; you have to exhaust physical limitations first. A good physiotherapist, especially one specialising in children, should be able to check.

In the absence of physical issues causing it, perhaps a scooter?

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Short answer is yes, but that is not a hard yes all the time.

I have a 5-year-old child who still occasionally begs to ride in the stroller when we go out. Usually I just say no, even if his younger brother is getting a ride. Sometimes I allow it.

If I allow my 5-year-old to ride in the stroller (we have a two-seat stroller), it is usually if one of two conditions are met, either:

  1. We are going for a very long walk. The walk is long enough that I think he might be complaining harshly and making my time very difficult long before the walk is done.

  2. He has a lot of energy that day and is a bit wild. Even then, he is told to that he can ride in the stroller later, and the timing is used strategically. For example, I tell him that he must walk to the destination first, then I allow him to get strapped in when we arrive. Conveniently for me, this keeps him contained while we are at the destination. I have done this when I needed to go to the bank or when something else needed enough of my attention that I could not give enough attention to my son. After, I let him ride part way back home and make him exit the stroller to walk the rest of the way back.

Very rarely, I have let even his older sister, age 9, ride in the stroller. This is quite rare and is only done out of necessity. One time was when she hurt her leg while we were out, so I let her ride so that she did not need to walk on her hurt leg. Another time was when we went for a very, very long walk during which the breaks were not enough to keep the children going; we had many stops around town, even I was achy and wincing long before the end, so I let the older children take turns riding in the stroller. Don't subject your children to more, or even as much, as you can bare.

In general, however, I try to keep children older than toddlers out of the stroller. The older they are, the more likely the answer is just flat-out "No," with the obvious exceptions of necessity - like a hurt leg.

A lot of it depends on the child. Our 5-year-old is slightly delayed mentally and acts younger, so sometimes we accidentally fall into the habit of treating him like he is 3 or 4. However, his younger brother is 2, and even the 2-year-old is usually told "no" to the stroller and is made to walk.

Walking is very good for your health and your child's health. Pushing them past their comfort will strengthen them both mentally and physically. Of course, do not push them to exhaustion; there can be too much of a good thing.

  • Down-voter care to explain? – Aaron Aug 15 '17 at 20:12
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To each their own, but I thought I'd share my experience.

I have three kids, a five-year old and twin two-year olds. They're awesome, BTW. :) We are regulars at Disneyland here in California and I HATE taking the stroller. It's too crowded and you can imagine what it's like navigating a double-wide there. Long story short, we bring it only to get IN and OUT of the park. All three kids walk the entire 8+ hour days at Disneyland.

Just the past Sunday I took my five-year old alone and we walked nearly 8 miles. Yes, he was exhausted at the end of the day, and really only complained at the conclusion as we were making it back to the car at which point I put him on my shoulders to give him a rest.

My recommendation, again, just my opinion: no weaning, cold turkey. Toss the stroller and grit your teeth. They'll fight, complain, whine and straight up be awful, but you'll be better off in the long run. I'm no child behavior expert, but I don't recommend offering an iPad, toy, or other item to calm them down when they're having their fit. Instead, offer them a goal-oriented reward BEFORE making your outing. An example being ice cream if they can make it the day without having an absolute breakdown. Whining and complaining is to be expected to some extent, but and absolute nuclear meltdown shouldn't be rewarded.

This is really no different than potty-training, pacifiers, etc. You just have to pull the ripcord and make it happen.

Good luck to you and I hope it all works great for you.

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This reminds me a bit of a regression - which means, that the stroller (and right to ride in it) is something from 'better, easier, younger times'.

Might there something about the current time, that would make her want to return back to the older days? Some uncomfortable change?

I'm not a psychologist, but I have seen longing for some baby stuff as the younger sibling was born - the firstborn was feeling left out, losing the attention, having responsibilities put on her without accompanying privileges - and as a result, she was unhappy and clinged a bit on things from the days without a younger sibling. And we let her, while looking for the source of the problem and trying to fix it (making sure we take time alone with her where she has our full attention, and we plan together what we are going to in that time (even if it's playing stories with dolls :)). And making sure there are privileges to her to go with the responsibilities - after all, in middle ages the firstborns were expected to rule the kingdom, not to babysit their younger siblings).

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Only a short addition because I fully agree with what SomeShinyObject wrote.

We don't sit our 5-year-old in the stroller, even in long walks. In fact, we try to keep our 2-year-old off the stroller, which of course is not always possible. A couple days ago we went for a 2km walk, and the toddler did about half of it in the stroller; he was actually very interested in pushing it instead of riding it.

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Just adding to this. While we don't use a stroller for our 5 year old it did come in very handy at the weekend. We had taken the stroller for our 9 month old to an all day event (normally it would be a pram but we were quite some distance from home and didn't have the room in the car for it, the stroller reclines enough to be safe).

When the end of the event came, the park was so overcrowded that we felt it to be unsafe for either child to be left to walk, plus it was 10pm, so we put the 9M.O. in a sling while the 5 Y.O. went in the stroller. It took 1 hour to get back to the car and it was a queue uphill to get there. This meant he was safe and able to sleep while my wife and I did all the work.

My suggestion would be to be mindful of where you are going, what you are doing there and how easy it is to get away at the end as well as the journey to the final resting place for them (plus it can be handy for carrying bits if it is not required).

  • i up-voted you because mindfulness of time of day and the child's other needs for sleep, safety etc is a good point. – bigbadmouse Aug 16 '17 at 11:44
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Have you tried a recumbent tricycle? It sounds like your child is getting tired on longer walks, so maybe something like this would help?

https://www.terapeak.com/worth/radio-flyer-big-flyer-trike-tricycle-pink-toy-bike-big-wheel-ride-on-kids-child/181203781413/

It would depend on where you are talking, but the ability to sit might make a big difference in how far they can go. And at least for myself, it felt a lot more fun than just walking.

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