So, we know childhood obesity is a problem and it was reported in the Telegraph this week that the issue of the humble buggy could also now be a contributory factor to this problem.
'Make your 3-year-old walk on short trips', rather than strapping them into the buggy all the time is the advice being given by Health Ministers. And I, for one, say here, here.
I think one of the more depressing sights on our streets has to be the school child, slumped into a buggy which is about four sizes too small for them, dragging their shoes along underneath it while they scoff a packet of Wotsits. It makes me shudder. It's almost worse than seeing a builder's bum. Almost.
OK, we all know how eye-crunchingly frustrating it is to walk anywhere with a toddler. A five-minute 'pop to the shops' becomes a polar expedition, stopping here, there and everywhere to look at this leaf and that twig. And yes, it's sometimes difficult to know what time you'll need to leave the house to allow enough time with a dawdling tot to make sure you get to where you need to be in time. You have to keep your eyes peeled and keep up a constant stream of cautionary advice, 'Watch where you're going,' 'Careful of the cars,' 'You're a bit too near the kerb' etc etc. So, of course, the temptation is to hoist the kids into the buggy so we can go wherever we want, at our own pace and in our own, invariably precious, time.
Both my boys were out of the buggy and walking to the local shops by the age of around two. Of course, for longer trips and busy shopping centres the buggy came in handy, but as far as I can remember the buggy quickly became more of a hindrance than a help, tipping itself over every time someone got out of it (that I do not miss) and anyway the boys went as rigid as iron girders if I so much as attempted to strap them into it.
The buggy is now somewhere shoved into the back of the attic. I'm sure that because I haven't used the buggy for so long, I have put myself through some additional frustrations and done more than my fair share of chiding the boys along to get to where ever we are going, but they are now great walkers (6 hr hike up a mountain in the Lake District at ages 4 and 6!) and, more importantly, they understand the rules of walking near roads and crossing the road safely.
What do you think? Do buggies have their time and place or do you rely heavily on your buggy for a 3-yr-old (or older)? It's an interesting debate and one which I am sure will continue to run for as long as the buggy manufacturers continue to think up ways of keeping us hooked on their products.