Posted in Mobility

Powered Ride-On Cars for Toddlers: Go Baby Go!

**Note: Mobility is outside of my scope of practice as a speech-language pathologist. I have received additional education about assistive mobility via assistive technology coursework and collaboration with other professionals, but it is extremely important to note that all mobility decisions should be made in collaboration with an occupational and/ or physical therapist, which I am not. As a result, this post should be taken as informational rather than as medical advice.

I first learned about Go Baby Go! as a speech-language pathology graduate student during a clinical placement. There was a physical therapy (PT) student who was completing the placement at the same time as me. At the end of the placement, the PT student gave a presentation on the Go Baby Go! organization as well as some basic background information on the importance of early mobility.

Go Baby Go! is a non-profit program that was started by Cole Galloway, a physical therapy professor at the University of Delaware. Information about the program is available on the University of Delaware’s website. More information is also available through this article from National Swell (Cheney and Templin, 2014) as well as the Go Baby Go! introductory Youtube video, which I would HIGHLY recommend watching.

The basic premise of Go Baby Go! is that commercially-available power-operated ride-on cars, such as Power Wheels by Fisher price, are electrically and mechanically modified so as to be accessible to children with physical disabilities. Often the cars are adapted so that the child can activate a switch or use a joystick to control the cars, instead of the buttons already on the cars that may be too difficult for them to activate. Adaptations can also be made to the car’s seats to support safe positioning for children with disabilities. In the Youtube video, Cole Galloway also discusses the modification of some of the cars in such as way as to provide “custom physical therapy” for individual children’s needs (e.g., placing the switch to control the car under the feet of a child learning to stand or behind the head of a child who is working on head control).

This is an amazing program because it is extremely difficult to get access to power mobility options for infants and toddlers. Early access to mobility promotes cognitive and language skill development, so it’s really important that for kids with physical disabilities resulting in mobility challenges, alternate forms of mobility are provided early and often. This article from Mobility Management does a GREAT job explaining why early access to mobility is SO important. I will likely do a follow-up post at some point with further research regarding the importance of providing early assistive mobility access for kids with physical disabilities.

There is a Go Baby Go! branch in Connecticut that offers workshops and will adapt cars for children if they attend with their families (information available on the Go Baby Go Connecticut Facebook page). You do not need to live in Connecticut to go to the workshops or receive an adapted car, but you do need to be able to transport yourself and your child there for the workshop. For people with access to electrical engineers, Go Baby Go! has also made the information about how to modify the cars publicly available.