Getting Your Toddler to Accept the Stroller

Ever since Gavin was a baby, he has never really been fond of the stroller.  When he was really little (i.e. less than six months old), we could often convince him to lie in it for a while, but he would soon begin fussing to get out.  The fussing, if ignored, would escalate to crying and since I wasn’t prepared to let him cry-it-out, I would often pick him up.

Eventually, I grew tired of lugging around the stroller since Gavin would spend more time out of it than in it.  Since we were practicing baby-wearing anyway, I didn’t feel particularly put out by the fact that he didn’t like his stroller.  I always figured that we could reintroduce the stroller when he was older and able to be reasoned with.

Indeed, that was pretty much the case.  By the time I discovered I was pregnant with our second baby, hubby suggested it was time to get Gavin reacquainted with the stroller since I couldn’t possibly continue to carry him at length now that I was pregnant.  The first time we brought the stroller out, he happily sat in it without protest.  In fact, he liked his stroller so much that he would often ask for it whenever he knew we were going out.

Then came a new problem.  The stroller we were using was the Quinny Buzz and we originally bought it with the interchangeable Maxi Cosi which we used when Gavin was a baby.  Now that the second baby was on the way, we would need to dig out the Maxi Cosi baby capsule to use with the frame of the Quinny Buzz when the new baby arrived.  That meant we needed a new stroller for Gavin.

Hubby and I went shopping and found a super lightweight and ultra-portable Combi stroller which we felt would also be a lot easier for me to manage now that I was pregnant.  It was on sale at Isetan for RM600 and when Gavin first tried it out, he seemed happy enough with it.  After paying for it, as is typical of toddler nature, Gavin decided he didn’t like it because it was black and not his favourite colour – blue.  Unfortunately, that particular model did not come in any other colour and since it was a sale item, the unit we had was the last one available.

As a result, hubby and I have had to condition Gavin to his new stroller.  Here are a few tips we have since learned:

1. Food Bribes Work Wonders

I have often found that if I offer Gavin a treat he likes, especially one that he can self-feed, he is generally more willing to sit in the stroller.  Snacks and treats that have worked well for us have been:

  • Meiji Panda biscuits
  • Vitagen – it is a cultured milk drink similar to Yakult but better tasting and with more flavours.
  • Glico Pocky biscuits – especially the giant variety which hubby bought back from his trip to Japan.
  • Milo nuggets
  • Tamago Boro – it is a Japanese milk ball biscuit that melts in the mouth.

2. Going to His Favourite Places

Often the promise to see trains, Thomas and Friends, or to get ice cream have also had a magical effect on increasing Gavin’s cooperation to sit in the stroller.  Of course, I have been known to detour past things I need to see or do while “on the way” to the toy department.

3. Offering Choices

When we’re leaving the car, I often make the condition with him that if he refuses to take the stroller, it means he has to walk on his own.  It also means he doesn’t get to be carried.  Initially, he would often opt to walk on his own.

Alternatively, I might make the choice between sitting in the stroller or the shopping trolley.  Of course this choice is usually only when I have the benefit of company to assist me.

4. Persistence

No matter how many times Gavin would knock back the offer to sit in his black (and unfavoured) stroller, I would keep asking him.  I would do this in addition to the bribes, the promises to see things he likes and offering of choices.

Occasionally,  I have also used the stroller with negative reinforcement (which could have backfired on me but thankfully has not).  For instance, if Gavin runs off and refuses to go where I need to go, I would give him a warning that he would have to sit in the stroller if he didn’t listen to me.

It has been a couple of months since we bought the stroller and I am beginning to find that I no longer have to create special conditions every time I want Gavin to sit in the stroller.  These days, he is more cooperative and willing to get into the stroller on his own.

Despite having used the stroller fairly infrequently when Gavin was a baby, I have had some successes getting him to sit (if only for a while).  Stay tuned for my next post for tips on how I managed to keep Gavin in the stroller when he was a baby.


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

2 thoughts on “Getting Your Toddler to Accept the Stroller

  1. Hi Shen Li. I have been reading your blog since last night (with a break in between of course) This is a great tip – for those practicing attachment parenting too!

    At what age did you start giving Gavin vitagen?


  2. Thanks, Chin Li 🙂

    I’m afraid I can’t really remember exactly when I started giving Gavin vitagen, but I think it must have been after he turned one. We were sort of no-holds barred on foods after he turned one. He wasn’t really that into it initially. Often he would drink a little and I would finish the rest. These days, he can go through two bottles in a day (probably more if I’d let him).


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