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The Best Strollers for Big Kids

Updated on April 20, 2016

Older Child in a Stroller

Our son is nearly five years old, and has no obvious signs of needing assistance with walking. He has significant fatigue issues and uses a stroller when he cannot walk.
Our son is nearly five years old, and has no obvious signs of needing assistance with walking. He has significant fatigue issues and uses a stroller when he cannot walk. | Source

Too Big for Stroller in the Media

Big Stroller Controversy

In a poor attempt at humor, a site called “Too Big for Stroller” was created. The author of the website frequently visits amusement parks and photographs children who appear too large for a stroller. A white circle with the word “walk” is plastered over the child’s face, to cover the identity of the child. The website is intended to give others a laugh at the fact that many large children are scrunched into tiny strollers when they appear as if they could easily walk.

Some of the children are surely healthy and the parents coddling. There is another side to the story, however, as some children require the use of a stroller, even when there is no visible sign of needing mobility assistance.

The blog writer intends the blog as humor, though many parents are devastated to find their child on the website. Many children have invisible medical difficulties that may not be obvious to the outsider. While many children with medical problems are in adaptive strollers, many use regular strollers as an alternative or until a concrete need for a wheelchair is obtained.

My own son is nearly five years old, and he has an occasional need for a stroller. From the outside, there is nothing to give his medical status away: his intense fatigue and occasional vestibular (balance) issues are not evident to a stranger. Some days, he is able to run around a soccer field and has no problems at all. Other days, he will literally collapse and be unable to stand. He has an undiagnosed complex medical condition – he has a feeding tube and uses respiratory support to breathe at night. An objective observer would not be able to see any of this, and he could very well end up on “Too Big for Stroller,” with “WALK” plastered over his face. This is doubly painful for any parent, as I do realize my son is outside the typical age for stroller use, and I also wish he could walk freely without becoming incapacitated by pain and fatigue. The very sign used to hide a child’s identity is a slap in the face to parents with children who cannot walk.

Types of Large Strollers

  • Jogging Strollers
  • Sit and Stand Strollers
  • Adaptive Strollers
  • Large Umbrella Strollers
  • Wagons and Stroller Alternatives

Why Would a Family Need a Big Stroller?

Large Toddler: some very young children are taller than average. A three year old child will not be able to walk long distances, and in most cases will fit into a traditional umbrella stroller. A three year old child in the 90th percentile for height, however, will be too large for most of the strollers available at a local department store.

Medical Condition: Many children require assistance walking after the toddler years due to a medical condition. While many of these children will eventually obtain an adaptive stroller or wheelchair, some children will use a regular, large stroller throughout the preschool and early elementary school years. A regular, large stroller is much cheaper than a medical stroller. My own son has significant fatigue issues and will collapse at unpredictable times. For this reason, we keep an umbrella stroller in our car for emergency use.

Surgical Recovery: A preschooler or early elementary school aged child recovering from surgery may require the use of a stroller for a period of time. Pain and stamina issues may impede a recovering child’s ability to walk for six weeks or more, depending on the surgery.

Long Distance Travel for a Preschooler: While healthy preschoolers are able to walk through a mall or a small zoo, walking five miles through a major city is typically beyond their ken. A stroller may be required for long, arduous walking trips.

Stroller Alternatives

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A wagon is an excellent stroller alternative for older kids.Push car strollers are sometimes seen in malls. Our son was able to use one when he was in the hospital - these strollers fit children in the 4-6 age range well.A bike with a handle makes a wonderful stroller alternative. These handles are often removable, allowing the child to use the bike in a more traditional manner.Older kids can hitch a ride on the back of a Sit and Stand Stroller.
A wagon is an excellent stroller alternative for older kids.
A wagon is an excellent stroller alternative for older kids. | Source
Push car strollers are sometimes seen in malls. Our son was able to use one when he was in the hospital - these strollers fit children in the 4-6 age range well.
Push car strollers are sometimes seen in malls. Our son was able to use one when he was in the hospital - these strollers fit children in the 4-6 age range well. | Source
A bike with a handle makes a wonderful stroller alternative. These handles are often removable, allowing the child to use the bike in a more traditional manner.
A bike with a handle makes a wonderful stroller alternative. These handles are often removable, allowing the child to use the bike in a more traditional manner. | Source
Older kids can hitch a ride on the back of a Sit and Stand Stroller.
Older kids can hitch a ride on the back of a Sit and Stand Stroller. | Source

Stroller Alternatives for Large Children

Wagons are a great option for families heading out to a state fair, large zoo, or amusement park is a wagon. Larger children fit easily into a wagon, and the wagon can double as a carry-all for a cooler and other items brought on the trip. When purchasing a wagon, look for pneumatic tires, as these travel over multiple surface types with ease. Wagons with plastic wheels are noisy, give a bumpy ride, and may not travel over grass or gravel very well.

Other stroller alternatives include the use of push-cars and bikes with handles, which allow an adult to walk behind the child and provide assistance when the child is tired of pedaling. Some of the push-bikes come with a removable handle, allowing the bike to be used in a more traditional manner when not being used as a stroller.

Jogging Strollers

These large three wheeled strollers designed for parents on the run (literally) are excellent for larger children. Most jogging strollers will accommodate a four or five year old child with ease, and may fit a child up to the age of seven, depending on the size of the child.

The Zoom 360 jogging stroller on the right will accommodate a child up to 75 pounds in weight, and has a high push handle. This prevents the adult from having to stoop over to push the stroller. The pneumatic tires allow it to travel over uneven terrain, and folds to a compact size. This stroller will accommodate taller children, as it is the largest jogging stroller on the market.

Large Umbrella Strollers

This option is excellent for families with large toddlers or children in the 3-4 year old age range. This is the most economical choice, as these strollers are quite inexpensive compared to the other options listed in this article. Unfortunately, a large umbrella stroller may not fit a child above the age of five or over 50 pounds, so families with older children may need to consider a jogging stroller or adaptive stroller.

The Need for Big Strollers: A Poll

Why Does Your Big Kid Need a Stroller?

See results

Double Strollers

Families with more than one child may consider purchasing a double stroller. We owned a Sit and Stand stroller, which allowed our older son to hop on the back of the stroller when he was tired. The rear seat could be used as a standing platform or a backwards-facing chair.

Adaptive Strollers

Children with certain medical conditions will eventually need an adaptive stroller. Some adaptive strollers look very similar to standard strollers, though they often have accessories and modifications to suit the child’s specific needs. Generally, the child will have a seating appointment at a mobility clinic to determine the correct size and adaptive features for the wheelchair.

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    • krsharp05 profile image

      krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine

      This hub is functional and full of great information. I've seen people who run with strollers and have wondered if they are easy to push. You did a wonderful job with your use of photos. Love it. -K

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      I never used a jogging stroller for exercise, krsharp, but we are considering buying one for Nolan. He has considerable difficulty with standing and walking when he has a high fatigue day, and it would come in handy. They are supposed to go over rough terrain well, so it would be great for hiking at our local audubon with our little guy!

    • Riverfish24 profile image

      Riverfish24 4 years ago from United States

      I have observed this too and your hub is an eye opener..great info and wk.

    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      This is a great hub Leah. I am sure parents in similar situation will love you for this article. Voted useful and Shared

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      With people online showing dead bodies it does not surprise me they would do this. To some people nothing is sacred. A great thing to bring to peoples attention and perhaps if enough people are aware they will help cover for innocent children captured for sick eyes.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great topic for an article! I love how many different options you've provided for strollers.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      The variety of strollers today are a great help to parents. I often wanted a larger one when my grandkids were older, around four. They tired after a couple of hours and needed to rest while we strolled the park, etc. Great topic and very useful.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Very true, Riverfish - I may have been one of the judgmental people in the past, until I had a child who requires the use of a stroller past the typical age range!

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      I hope it helps someone, greatstuff! We are still undecided as to whether our son will require long-term mobility assistance, so we may invest in a jogging stroller until we have a more clear-cut need for a medical stroller. Hopefully our little guy will gain strength with a little more age and we can ditch the stroller altogether!

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Jackie, it absolutely breaks my heart - I understand the attempt at humor behind the blog, but it is very misplaced and very few parents actually place a child in a stroller when it is not needed. It is much harder to push around a stroller than to simply have an able-bodied child walk.

    • leahlefler profile image
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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Thank you, Rose! There are a lot of options out there - we often use a wagon when we're going out to a fair or to the zoo.

    • leahlefler profile image
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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Very true, teaches! Sometimes kids tire easily at the ages of four or five and need a little extra help on a big trip that requires a lot of walking. We had to run to a department store to get a cheap umbrella stroller for our son a few months ago, because we had sold all of our strollers! It has come in handy on several occasions.

    • MitoMomof4 4 years ago

      I'm new as of today to your Hub but already see the wealth of info you post! Thank you! as I am new, I'm not sure if you have a dx of this already for your sons but have you looked into mitochondrial disease? I have one kiddo w/ confirmed mito & one that is only 9 months but likely to have it as well.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Hi MitoMom - mito is on the table for Nolan, though we haven't gone through any formal testing for it yet. He has mild hypotonia, gastrointestinal issues (severe reflux - Nissen with mic-key placement/motility issues), sleep apnea (uses a C-pap at night - obstructive hypopneas and central apnea - the central apnea has resolved). He also has a congenital, progressive hearing loss, chronic sinus and ear infections, a urology issue, and some vision issues (amblyopia with astigmatism, nearsighted in one eye and farsighted in the other eye). We're not sure if his fatigue issues are more related to GI pain or are true fatigue - it is very unpredictable. He also has difficulty gaining and maintaining weight. Our docs aren't very interested in a comprehensive diagnosis. The geneticist we saw at Cleveland Clinic speculated on a connective tissue disorder, though he doesn't quite "fit" that category. We're in the wait-and-see mode to see what else pops up. I do wish they would run a few tests to get some answers, because it would b nice to have a "name."

    • MitoMomof4 4 years ago

      leahlefler... I'm so sorry you've been going through this. Not that I'm wishing mito on anyone but it does sound like it is a distinct possibility. I'm sure you've had your share of appointments and frustration and a diagnosis doesn't make it much, if any easier. I have to be quick on here as 9 mo old is wanting to attack the keyboard but you can email me if you would like at: PeaceNJoyNAZ@hotmail.com.

      Hoping to have more time on here to explore your pages.

      Wishing you all the best!

      ~April

    • leahlefler profile image
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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      I do hope it is NOT mito, but I have run across several cases of "mild" mito and varying presentations from a few of the blogs of kids with multiple medical issues or hearing loss + other issues... I'll shoot you a PM- not sure how to bring it up to his ENT (the only doc that has chased down any sort of diagnosis for the little guy) - it is entirely possible that he has something else, but I suppose time will tell. If anything new pops up, we'll obviously be even more suspicious.

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona

      I did not even realize there were larger strollers for older children. Your Hub is a fascinating read. I learned a great deal. Thanks for sharing.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      There are a few brands that work well with bigger kids, lindacee, but most children who require long-term mobility assistance will eventually move onto a medical stroller or wheelchair. Many of the medical strollers look like souped-up umbrella strollers.

    • Natashia 3 years ago

      Our daughter is almost 4 and we are trying to find a nice stroller for Disney World. It's pretty exhausting for a little one to walk around all day and she might need a nap. We figured it would be nice for her to be able to rest in a stroller instead of making my older son go to the hotel for a few hours every day. It's ridiculous that someone spent so much time on a site used to try to humiliate parents and little children. Even if the parents are being a little coddling, it's not something worth judging someone over.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York

      Natashia, it is ridiculous how some people feel comfortable judging others, when they have no idea how difficult it can be with young children. Disney World is extremely large and more than most preschoolers could ever tackle on their own. My little boy has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which involves several medical issues - including weak/floppy joints and early-onset arthritis. He can generally walk short distances, but he does not have the endurance most typical children have. On the outside, he looks "typical," but he requires a stroller if we are in a large mall or if we are walking around a city. He is six now, and looks odd in an umbrella stroller due to his size. We're trying to get a Maclaren Major (medical stroller) for him - I've been bidding on eBay to find a cheap one.

    • Natalie 2 years ago

      it is hard to not comment when someone loudly states that a child is too old for a stroller. I have a 2 year old, not even two and a half and he is 41 inches tall and weighs 55 pounds. He really cannot walk longer than an hour or maybe 1 hr and a half without wanting to stop, sit or be held. Having to do activities with my older child requires outings for extended time and a lot of walking or hiking as part of gathering sessions for science projects or nature walks. I do not wish to exclude my youngest from spending that time with us so i have a travel stroller on hand usually but now he beyond the weight of most and not sure what to do. Sometimes my husband will just pick him up and carry him for the remainder of the day but if it is just me that is not possible for more than a half hour or hour of trekking time. So many people comment that he is old enough at 4 yrs that he should be able to keep up and as if his size wasn't an issue, they further go on to judge his language skills, that i should have him evaluated for something. He is 2 not 4 or 5. I keep reminding myself that people aren't trying to be mean but it is tough to hear such judgmental observations everyday. We are off to buy a new stroller this week to see what will work for us. Good luck to all of you others too!

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      I hope you find something that works for your little boy, Natalie! Some people really have a lot of nerve - they should not make comments and judgments. It is really awful! My son is six and a half, and due to his genetic disorder he fatigues easily. He can run around a playground and look perfectly "typical," but extended walking makes him extremely fatigued and can cause a lot of other issues. Kids come in all sorts of different sizes and there are so many 2 year olds that are the same size as a 5 year old (or vice versa)! Let me know what stroller you find! Nolan (my six year old) is 45 pounds and we have a hard time finding one for him due to his length - which is why we're leaning toward a medical stroller at this point.

    • Lily 2 years ago

      My son will be 5 years old in a few weeks and he has level 3 autism spectrum disorder. When we take him anywhere, we have to be extremely careful and twice as prepared because if I let go of his hand he will take off running. He is also bad to stop in the middle of walking if something catches his eye and run away to chase down something (or someone). He can easily get lost in a crowd and it is my worst fear to lose track of him. One morning when he was 2 he went out the front door when everyone else was asleep and we searched frantically for him for close to an hour before we found him outside in the driveway, watching the cars go by. I thank God he didn't wander into the road or he would have been run over since it was foggy outside and we could barely see him as it was. So we have to keep an extremely close eye on him at all times when he's not indoors at our own house. And now that we have a new baby in the house, taking him anywhere is that much more of a challenge. He is larger than most kids his age (a lot of people ask me what school he goes to since he is the height of a 6 1/2 year old) so he has outgrown his umbrella stroller. I'm frantically searching for something affordable that will accommodate his weight (he's 54 lbs) but I have found nothing that won't break the bank. I ignored the looks I got when he was still small enough to be in a stroller because the people that stare have no idea what it's like. I'd love to have a double stroller that isn't a sit-and-stand that can hold him. One can dream...

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      We don't have a double stroller, Lily, but we did recently acquire a Maclaren Major. It is a medical stroller that looks a lot like an umbrella stroller, but accommodates children up to 110 pounds. It is PERFECT for our needs. My son has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and "looks" fine, but cannot walk long distances as he fatigues. If you can get a developmental pediatrician to write a prescription, you should be able to get a medical stroller covered by insurance (though that sometimes doesn't work, as some insurance companies will only cover strollers for children who are paralyzed or cannot walk at all). We obsessively watched craigslist, ebay, and our local garage sale pages - a friend notified me that someone local was selling a Maclaren Major for $50. We picked it up about 4 months ago and it has made life MUCH easier. Nolan is now 7 years old and will not fit into an umbrella stroller. Another benefit of a medical stroller is the lack of judgmental stares.

    • Theresa Franklin profile image

      Theresa Franklin 2 years ago from Hemphill, TX

      Good job. Thank you for highlighting the different reasons a stroller might be needed. However, part of me thinks it's no one else's reason why your child is in a stroller. It is your job to determine what is best for your child. You don't need anyone else's permission or judgement.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      Exactly, Theresa! It is amazing how judgmental people can be, isn't it? People make comments all the time, without having any idea about the reality behind the situation. We were once at a grocery store and my son's legs gave out, so I placed him into the basket of the grocery cart (he's a little big to carry) - I think about 5 people came up and said, "Oh, but you're such a big boy, why are you riding in there?" It is so rude. It is no one's business.

    • Theresa Franklin profile image

      Theresa Franklin 2 years ago from Hemphill, TX

      When my children were young, I took them and their friends to Vacation Bible School. On the way, I stopped at the grocery store. An older couple made a comment that I didn't hear, but knew was about me and 'my' children. Then we came down an aisle and they turned the corner. I heard them say, "There she is again." Was is any of their business how many children I had with me and whether they were mine or not? I'm sure the comment that I was probably on government assistance and they were paying for my five children. Three were mine and two were a friend's. Neither of us has ever been on government assistance. Among the four parents, we have 6 college degrees. Now I would stop them and tell them. Then I was young and patient. Well, both of those are gone.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      People can be truly appalling sometimes. I suppose the old saying is still true: if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. It is too bad more people don't heed this advice!

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