I don’t have kids and I’m not here to dish out child-rearing advice, but at what age is a stroller no longer needed (read: appropriate)?
I ask following a recent incident when I was rammed from behind by a stroller and turned, expecting to see a cute babbling baby but instead was met with what appeared to be an eight-year-old wedged into the seat – the “baby-kid” engrossed in his mobile device. It was all I could do to stop myself tipping him out on the spot.
Is it just me or are oversized kids crammed into strollers becoming a more common sight? Perhaps sensitised to the issue, later the same evening I spotted three men on a pavement in the city’s Central district, all with pushchairs carrying kids bulging out the sides.
In search of an answer, I reached out to Brian Leung, chiropractic kinesiologist and licensed naturopathic physician from the Integrated Medicine Institute in Central.
Leung says there’s no designated age at which children should stop using strollers, as kids’ sizes vary so much. “Children should depend less on a stroller when they are three years old, but when out all day, such as a trip to Disneyland, this can change,” he says.
Children aged six to seven should have the muscular maturity not to require a stroller, Leung says, although they may occasionally need to sit down and rest – that’s “rest”, not spend prolonged periods hanging out in strollers.
And for good reason. Sitting in strollers designed for a three-year-old can cause posterior tilt of the pelvis in older children and that, over time, can affect posture.
“For developing kids, this can be detrimental in the long run,” Leung says.
He says we in Hong Kong have to think about play areas or, more accurately, the lack of them.
“Kids in Hong Kong are probably physically behind because of the lack of space to baby-crawl, run and play. These are all compromised when raising children here and this affects skeletal and muscular development, so you will see children depending on a stroller at a much older age, when they shouldn’t.”
The problem, then, has its roots in Hong Kong’s lack of play spaces for kids. Well, that’s a rant for another day.