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Expert Explanation :The Stroller Struggle Is Real!

May 03, 2019
By: Rosa Goglas PT, DPT     Read Rosa’s bio HERE
As pediatric physical therapists we are often asked for strategies to help children improve endurance. Our number one suggestion?

Once children can begin running, are approaching three years of age, and are able to follow directions, strollers aren’t necessary 100% of the time. Overusing a stroller can inhibit musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, and cardiovascular systems from developing, leading to future delays.

An abundance of benefits exist from decreasing stroller use!
  • Increased strength and motor control as they learn to transition over various surfaces (curbs, ramps, stairs).
  • Increased body awareness as they navigate around obstacles and other people on the street.
  • Increased endurance as they walk for longer periods of time.
  • Increased balance reactions as their body learns to react to being bumped into or walking over an uneven surface.
  • Prevention of injury and lower body tightness that can be caused from being in a sitting position for increased periods of time.
  • Promotes regulation by providing them with more opportunities for movement.
  • Provides their bodies with information of their body position input as they they walk.

It can be a tough decision to finally decide to ditch those strollers. You may worry, How will I get home if my child is too tired to walk or starts to throw a tantrum?

Good News! You don’t have to quit your stroller cold turkey.

Just as a few short runs wouldn’t qualify you to run a marathon, you will need to slowly build your child up to being out of the stroller.

  • Travel with your stroller but have your child walk alongside
  • Give your child the job of helping you push and navigate the stroller
  • Start with small distances; walk the last block to school/daycare
  • Slowly increase distance block by block every morning and afternoon until your child can walk the entire route
Some additional tips to help transition away from the stroller:
  • In the beginning, bring your stroller with you in case it is needed
  • Plan accordingly. If you’re going to have a long day out, think of providing times for rest throughout the day.
  • Give your child a task so they feel like they are helping and accomplishing something on their walk
  • Use the time to point out object, words, letters and numbers on the street, teach pedestrian rules, and work on increasing awareness of the world
  • Stick to your plan. If you’ve set a goal of getting 3 blocks to school, stick to it!
  • If your child walks “too slow”, leave enough time to reach your destination as scheduled
  • Prepare for weather. Bundle up, put on those rain boots
  • Think about the long term benefits and avoid continuous use for the sake of convenience!

It is pertinent to help build a good foundation for children with walking. This will help to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and lead to the development of  age appropriate gross motor skills.

If you have concerns about your child’s endurance or notice that they are tripping and falling while walking, PHYSICAL THERAPY can help! Give Theraplay a call @ 212-288-1450 and let our expert physical therapists assess and develop a plan specific for your child.


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