/ Health, Parenting

Bye-bye buggy – would toddlers cope without it?

Toddler looking unhappy on scooter

Under fives need more exercise, say the UK’s chief medical officers, who are calling for three hours a day of ‘active play’. Children’s health is of course top priority, but how realistic is it to say goodbye to the buggy?

As a working parent, I have sympathy for those who resort to the pushchair to get to where they need to be, vaguely on time.

I have to confess that I have no idea whether my children (aged six and four) get three hours of exercise every day. Of course I know about it at the weekend, but on school and nursery days, I’m reliant on the timetable that’s set for them.

Walking doesn’t always work

Yes, I could make them walk to school and nursery, except that the nursery is three miles away and I might get to work by lunchtime if I was lucky. I use a combination of car, bus and scooter to get my daughter there, and if she were younger, I’d use a pushchair since she’s always tired at the end of the day when I pick her up.

If you’re a parent – working or at home – who has to cover a fair distance and get through a lot in a day, and you have a toddler who’s prone to tantrums and plays the trump card of the sit-down protest, the pushchair is your saviour.

Are scooters the saviour?

If you’re lucky enough to have a two-year-old who’s grown out of this (that is to say a two-year-old who doesn’t behave like a two-year-old) then I highly recommend a scooter, which is exercise AND gets you where you need to be vaguely on time.

A scooter has worked fairly well for my daughter at age three and four, apart from times when she got off and sat down on the pavement (see above) when I was already late for work.

I suspect many under-5s are now riding scooters who otherwise would have been in a pushchair or on a Buggyboard. This is good news for exercise, although the distances are usually fairly short.

There are pressures other than time on parents that lead them to strap the two- or three-year-olds into a pushchair. A free-roaming two-year-old in a supermarket will get people tutting at you (my son used to randomly hit other shoppers), not to mention the draw of the confectionery aisle.

So to those who’d do away with the pushchair I say: I’d love my kids to walk more – but I also have to get through the day.


True words, Liz. Just this morning, I scooted my three-year-old to nursery and regretted it half way there when she started moaning about not wanting to scoot and insisted on holding my hand, even though I was pushing my bike with one hand and holding her scooter with the other!

I really try to get her more active, but it’s taken me ages. But I do think that the more you make them walk the more they get used to it and it becomes the norm.

One thing to add – we have grandparents helping with our childcare. While I’d love to insist that they make my daughter walk when they go out it just isn’t easy for them. She’s way too heavy to carry and I wouldn’t want them to have to deal with tantrums unnecessarily. As you say, sometimes it just isn’t practical to ditch the buggy.