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Are we pushing kids too far?

2 September 2019

Baby buggies

The use of baby and toddler buggies

One of the biggest buying decisions faced by new parents is which buggy to buy, and i’s a potentially huge purchase. Some strollers on the market, made by companies including Stokke, Silver Cross and iCandy, cost over £1,000. You could buy a decent electric bike or even a used car for that kind of cash.

It may seem well worth it, however, if you work out how much time your infant, then toddler, will spend in their buggy. Whether it’s a walk round the block for a breath of fresh air or a longer water to the park or supermarket, most people will use a buggy on a daily basis.

Developmental damage?
Some studies have made the news, however, when warning against the use of certain types of buggy. In 2014, a leading psychologist claimed that over-use of both buggies and car seats could lead to developmental issues. Prior to this, a campaign against forward-facing buggies began in 2003, and since then various new stories have focused on the damage that buggies can allegedly do. This includes the effect of pollution inhalation as well as claims of arrested development and a negative effect on the child’s social skills and stress levels - for which forward-facing buggies have been blamed.

What about fitness?
What does not appear to be so widely mentioned, however, is the impact on the child’s fitness level - yet surely common sense tells us that this will be adversely affected by the over-use of car seats and strollers?

During the generation most parents at our local school come from, we as children walked far more  than we do now. To school, to friends and grandparents’ houses, to the park and to the shops. Car use was less because there were lower levels of car ownership. 

Choked with cars
Today, the roads around the nearest school are choked before 9am and after 3pm each day. Numerous cars are trying to squeeze into tight spaces, while someone else mounts the pavement opposite to pass, narrowly missing kids that are travelling to school on scooters and bikes. Other parents simply block a resident’s drive while they park - well they’ll only be a few minutes, right?

Two legs or two wheels
Yet there are plenty of kids to be seen who are walking, cycling or scooting to school - especially during more clement weather. Perhaps they live closer, which explains why they can manage the return trip on a daily basis. Others may simply live little too far way for short legs to cope with - and what of siblings? The schoolchild themselves may be capable of covering the distance, but that about their baby brother or sister?

Parents too can face certain restrictions. They may be short of time, or have mobility limitations that restrict their walking or cycling ability. They may simply be terrified of taking to the local roads on two wheels, bearing in mind those drivers who think nothing of using part of the footpath as a temporary traffic lane.

Moving along
What is the answer? It’s impossible to come up with a definitive response, as everyone’s abilities and circumstances are different. As with so many things in life, there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer. 

All we can do, as parents, is our level best. Walk, scoot or cycle both ways daily if you can; if not one is definitely better than none. Even once a week is a good start. Or how about driving halfway if you live too far or have too little time to spare? Park in a spot halfway to school - or to the shops, park or Grandma’s house - whenever you can. 

Every little helps when it comes to fitness and the avoidance of obesity. It also helps the environment, which surely has to be a good thing. Whichever buggy you opt for, surely using it even just a little less will limit any detrimental effects on your child’s development, health, social skills and fitness levels.

This blog is courtesy of Tracy Jackson, a local parent. See more - including how to hire her services as a content and copy writer at:

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