Physicians and some parents are speaking up about the use of strollers.
A recent story on ABC News, highlighting a blog with photos of not-so-young children in strollers, has parents and physicians talking about the use of strollers for children who, some say, should really be walking on their own.
There could be many reasons why more children are riding in strollers (safety being one), but the AAP is concerned about the lack of physical activity in children. A 2003 New York Times piece stated that nearly 40% of parents polled in various cities around the U.S. use strollers for four-year-olds. The poll, which included only a very small sample and was not a scientific study, caught the attention of the AAP. Pediatrics, the official journal of AAP, cited the poll in a paper on preventing childhood obesity, highlighting concerns about the lack of physical activity seen in many children, calling the use of strollers for a "missed opportunity" for parents to encourage exercise in children three years of age and over.
1. Take a hike
This doesn't have to be over a hill and through the woods. If you are fortunate enough to live within walking distance of the grocery store, the drugstore, or the post office, do as much walking as you can to those places when you need to get to pick up some items or mail a package.
2. Walk to school
Not everyone can do this, but if you can, it is a great habit and adds up to lots of physical activity for your child.
3. Make it regular
If you drive your children home from school, consider dropping them off a ways from home and having them walk the rest of the way.
4. Do what you need to for your child's safety
Sometimes, parents use strollers for children who tend to run away. Try using a harness, practicing at home first. (Some children really rebel against these.) If you can use it with ease and get your child use to it, it can be a good tool for keeping them close to you while allowing them plenty of exercise.
5. Be reasonable
If your children aren't used to lots of walking, asking them to walk a full day at an amusement park or festival is bound to cause frustration. Plan for a shorter day, or take frequent breaks. If you have very young children, bring a wagon or stroller that lays back for napping.
6. Take the stairs
Avoid regular use of elevators and escalators.
7. Encourage variety
Walking is but one type of exercise. Encourage running games, races, biking, swimming, carrying groceries inside, taking laundry upstairs, helping with household projects, cleaning, wiping floors, sweeping, and gardening.