The Best Strollers for Big Kids
Older Children in Strollers
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.
Too Big for Stroller in the Media
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 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.
Stroller AlternativesClick thumbnail to view full-size
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.
We used a jogging stroller for our son for several years, prior to obtaining a medical stroller. We used the jogging stroller, as it 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. Joovy Zoom 360
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?
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.
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.
Questions & Answers
I’ve had the hardest time finding a long-time use stroller for my moderately autistic, 4-year-old daughter. Any suggestions?
We used the Maclaren Major for our son (he has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) for several years and loved this stroller. The Major is a medical stroller, but with a diagnosis of autism, you can obtain a prescription for the stroller and try to get it covered under your medical insurance's durable medical equipment (DME) coverage. We were lucky and found one on Craigslist for a highly reduced rate, which saved us a lot of hassle and money. This medical stroller has an upper weight limit of 110 pounds, so will last the longest if you need it for the long term. If you can't get insurance coverage and the price of the Maclaren Major is too much (amazon sells this stroller for around $450), I would recommend finding a large jogging stroller, though she will likely outgrow a jogging stroller by age 6 or 7.Helpful 7
We need a stroller for our five-year-old and two-year-old, but I only like the 3 wheel joggers with bike tires. Is there anything like that available? I need something for two children, even if I can only attach a board or seat in the back of the jogger for my five-year-old.
Something like the Baby Jogger Summit X3 Double Jogging Stroller might work well for your purposes. The negative is that it is a side-by-side double jogger, which increases the stroller's width. It does have three large bicycle tires which allows for use in almost any terrain. You can also buy a gliding board that attaches to a single jogging stroller. These cost about $70 and attach to the rear wheels. The gliding boards are standard wheels, however, and not bicycle wheels.Helpful 3
© 2012 Leah Lefler