While there are some jerks on the Internet posting pictures of kids in strollers to ridicule their parents’ choice, I strongly believe that putting your big kid in a stroller can be a very good idea. This is not a decision I take lightly, but rather as seriously as any other parenting decision. My choice is based on my children’s specific needs and the activity in which we are participating.
Parents are responsible for knowing their children’s physical conditioning. My girls are seven, and we still push them around in their chariot, i.e. stroller, when we go to amusement parks like Disneyworld and Sea World or when we travel to a highly populated area. I have had them walk on a few occasions, but they lost between three and six pounds individually in one day. My children are not overweight, so the drop was not healthy. Additionally, walking made them overtired and cranky, so we paid a lot of money for them to be unhappy. Believe me when I tell you that their misery translated to hell for my husband and me. These were the only times that we, as a family, did not have a good time at the parks. I would like to point out that if you have a child with health problems, this would be even more detrimental. It would not be a good idea to expect an overweight child to walk such long distances without any conditioning, unless you are looking to spend the evening in the emergency room. So, don’t listen to the critics, and do what you know is best for your child.
The second consideration is the activity itself. Our chariot is only pulled out of the stable, i.e. garage, when a) we are going to cover long distances, b) it’s going to be a long day, or c) the population density is going to be high enough that it could lead to our children getting lost, abducted, or hurt. If the outing includes more than one key point, the chariot is definitely coming out of the stable!
Now, I’m doing something that I always tell my students not to do; I am adding a “tack on.” This is . . . you should always be flexible. I allow Baby B to walk at the parks because she wants to do so. However, I only allow it in sections of the park that are not terribly crowded, thus minimizing the potential for problems and limiting the amount of time she spends on her feet. So, she is happy she was able to make a choice, and I am happy because she enjoys the trip.