All about my unexpected love affair… with the stroller

Guest post by Karla
Ugly Baby

A year ago, my younger, more dogmatic, and very pregnant self was eagerly anticipating being an avidly marsupial mum. Never mind the substantial hampering of personal mobility for tasks such as bending over to tie a shoe, or pick something up. Never mind the difficulty of dressing baby and self appropriately, given how hot the carrier can get for both of us. Never mind the inability to dine comfortably, or even drink a hot coffee, with a squirming, grabbing baby strapped to oneself. Never mind the permanent paranoia that your baby, whose feet are outside of your peripheral vision, has irretrievably lost a shoe.

All of this did not matter, for I was going to be a marsupial mum! My baby and I would be perpetually snuggled together, deftly manoeuvring the unpredictable terrain of life, just as anthropology intended. Better still, marsupial-me was going to lose all my baby weight in no time. No awkward, lumbering stroller for me! Ha ha!

And then my baby was born.

At first, we did indeed go everywhere marsupially. Sure, it was not so easy to lug around a newborn baby AND a purse AND a diaper bag (you forgot about the diaper bag, didn’t you?), but it was lovely, if somewhat awkward. Then one day I needed to go grocery shopping. And not the “a few vegetables here and there” type of grocery trip — rather it was the BIG shop that was needed. Cheeses, apples, potatoes, eggs, 4L of milk, some jars of salsa, some juice, some canned goods… this was going to be HEAVY.

I knew that even if I risked leaving the diaper bag at home, I would still have to carry the baby PLUS my purse, PLUS at least 10-20 lbs of groceries, for the entire 20 minute walk home. Then I thought, if only there was some kind of wheeled device, one in which I could put my baby and/or my groceries… like a shopping cart, but one that I could take home. I needed some kind of device to assist… strolling. Hmm.

And thus began my unexpected love affair with our stroller.

You see, folks, the real deal-breaker of marsupial-ness (for me) is all the additional gear a babyminder needs to tote around. The diaper bag is critical for trips over half an hour, as it has all a baby needs to be clean and happy; the purse is an essential (and useful) relic from the pre-baby days, containing all I need to function in society, plus a lipstick or two.

And then, God forbid if you need to drop off some dry cleaning, pick up library books, get groceries, or run errands while carrying bags and bags and bags AND baby… suddenly, marsupial-me was magically transformed from a stylish-ish mum to a pack mule! Well, that’s how I felt, anyways.

So, to my great surprise, I’ve grown to love the stroller. Thank you, stroller, for your allowance for personal space, for your wonderful stowage capacity, and for letting me fearlessly drink hot coffee. Better still, you’ve reminded me of how intentions for parenting don’t always jive with the realities, and that there’s value and joy in being open to the surprises (and humility) that parenting brings.

Comments on All about my unexpected love affair… with the stroller

  1. It’s all about balance, isn’t? Though I have to say, I made it a point to downsize my personal luggage a lot when the kiddo was born. I hate being encumbered and I find coats to be cumbersome enough. Even with a stroller, I travel lightly–one bag that functions as a diaper bag and my purse. The key is to consider what it is that you REALLY need to be schlepping around, in order to keep a baby happy.

    • agree! i’ve never really understood the need for a diaper bag. and i use cloth which requires much more preparedness than disposable! i carry one bag with all my personal stuff plus a few snacks a few toys and a few diapers with wipes. used dipes go in the waterproof inner compartment. no muss, no fuss. what else could one possibly need?

      full disclosure: i’m an avid babywearer and proud owner of TWO strollers.

  2. Haha, love it! We got a stroller while I was still pregnant but I wanted to use the carrier more often. Yeah that didn’t always work out, especially since we live in Phoenix where last summer when my daughter was about 4 months old it was over 100 degrees, and a maya wrap is so thick and so many layers, I could not handle it! Love my stroller, even if it just carries stuff and I still hold my daughter.

  3. Yay for balance! When my youngest was an infant, we had a sling that he pretty much lived in and I ended up with a backpack-style diaper bag (pretty much a backpack, with a changing pad stuck in it). It had a little pocket in front where wallet and purse-type items went. I wore my keys on a lanyard around my neck, which, as he got older, he loved to play with. We had a stroller too, and oh yes it came in handy for long walks, and for toting all the extra gear for his older brothers (twin 3 yr olds). I absolutely agree about how humbling motherhood is and how it teaches you flexibility as a matter of survival! 🙂

    • This is my plan! Backpack diaper bag and baby slung on front. For me it’s less about the merits of diaper wearing and more because the thought of having to push a stroller everywhere makes me feel encumbered (though reality may differ).

      That said, we already have a couple of strollers acquired in advance, and I’ve already considered taking them grocery shopping – just to carry the groceries home!

      • This is what I do with my 5 month old son – I have a rucksack with his extra nappies (I am sounding very English here) etc as well as my pursey bits in it. Works fine. I carry my groceries in sacks in my hands, and if we need a big shop my partner does it in the car (I don’t drive). My motivation was to be unencumbered, having seen women struggling with big strollers on and off buses, in and out of shops; and how often do strollers tip back because of all the shopping and crap that is slung on them?

  4. Thank you for this post! I really thought I would be baby-wearing from the start, but it turned out my little 2 month old decided he HATED being strapped into any carrier. At almost 5 months he’s only just now starting to like it again.

  5. I love my stroller. Love it! I have a coffee cup holder and a new travel mug, so I am one happy mama.
    I tried the babywearing thing, but a long standing back injury prevented me from carrying my baby for any length of time.

  6. I remember using the carrier just so I could fit more groceries in the stroller. It was so handy to have.

    I also really enjoyed that the stroller gave me a minute to put the baby down without him howling. The first three months of his life my son seemed to want to do nothing other than nurse and sleep in my arms, but he did sleep on walks with the stroller, which gave me a much needed reprieve from touching. Babywearing is fantastic but strollers have their place as well, for sure.

  7. While I LOVE the idea of baby wearing, and will probably do it around the house to keep my hands free, I also LOVE the idea of having a place to stow all my stuff when I am doing things around the city. Glad to know there is some balance in the babywearing versus stroller debate, because I feel like I will be right in the middle too!

    • I agree! I love being able to wear my son at home when he’s fussy, or on short trips in the store, or as a backup method in case he falls asleep or gets tired of walking while we’re out. But if I’m planning on being out and about and doing tons of walking, the stroller is more logical for me.

      That said, at two the stroller/babywearing thing is moot for Miles — he wants to walk 97% of the time, and that works fine for me. 😀

  8. Love this post! My standard “advice” I give to new moms is, “ignore what everyone else tells you to do and do what you know works”. I loved babywearing, but I also loved my stroller. It’s hard to babywear a large toddler at an outdoor (and not very crowded) festival. Plus, strollers have these nifty cup holders for you to put your and your partner’s beer in. 😉

  9. i couldn’t disagree more! I despise our pram… We carry our daughter everywhere in the ergo, and go without purse OR nappy bag: we fit 2 nappies and a small thing of wipes in the ergo pocket and i carry only a small coin purse in my back pocket with my drivers license, credit card and cash. Who needs anything else?! i love how it leaves you two free hands. Our pram is very big and impossible to push one handed: i had a coffee in the cup holder and hit the tiniest incline and coffee spilt all throughout the pram and all over Lucy. If it had been hot she would have been burnt. That was the day we said adios to regular use. Now i only use it if i’m going to be on the train for more than 2 hours (to my parents’) so she has somewhere to sleep.

    • Add another to that ergo lovin, pram hating, purse/nappy bag free team! I agree, what else do you need other then a couple of nappies (2 is plenty, Z only poops once a fortnight), small wipes, small coin purse n keys? Lip balm and baby socks maybe? Theres no need for toys when he is strapped to me, hes either eyeballing people or sleeping. I adore our carrier, it gives me the freedom to leisurely browse the pokiest little shops or busiest markets. Our son loves being close, up high and a part of the conversations. For big shops I will take my car but a couple of canvas bags are fine otherwise. Even in stinkin hot west australian weather with my sweaty hot water bottle baby I would rather have my hands free and my mind elsewhere instead of watching where and what my stroller is doing…. Plus I cant be trusted behind the wheels, no poor bystanders toes would be safe. 🙂

    • Add me to the Ergo team! I have a diaper bag that I double as my purse, but during outings it often gets left in the car and the only eessentials that come with HAVE TO fit into my pockets or the Ergo pockets. This includes my keys, wallet, phone, inhaler, wipes, and a couple diapers. I have found method makes grocery shopping so much easier! And if my daughter needs a toy? Well, that’s why I invested in a few teething necklaces. I wear them when I baby wear just to give her something to fiddle with. Honestly, if i ever need anything from the diaper bag, it’s wherever my car is…..which is never far.

  10. Bec – What if you are out for longer than a couple hours? Two diapers wouldn’t last us for a full day’s outing! And what about carrying groceries, etc.?

    As a babywearing and stroller-owning mama who relies on a combo of walking and transit to get most places I completely identify with this blog post!

    I have been to a few local babywearing meetups in my city and have noticed that the more vehemently anti-stroller crowd are also very dependent on their vehicles. Sure, it’s easy to wear your baby everywhere if you are actually using your car to carry all your diapering supplies and groceries!

    • Very true! I rely on my car to get around. It has a huge trunk which is awesome! I can keep my huge diaper bag, purse, groceries, ect. In the car and be able to walk around with mt baby on my back with nothing elce but a small wallet, phone and keys. I love using my stroller for big shopping trips or even to the doctor because we did not use a carrier. Those are awful!

    • THIS! My friend was proudly stating how she didn’t need a stroller, and I really wanted to point out that she HAD a stroller. An enormous 5-seat, self-propelling stroller AKA her car.
      I have an ergo, an umbrella stroller and a jogging stroller which get used based on the situation for the day. We don’t own a car.

    • We part-time EC, so very rarely use more than 4 nappies/24 hours. I find that wearing Lucy (6 months) means I have 2 hands free for my canvas shopping bags, I don’t drive to the shops, I walk the 2kms twice a week.
      We have an ’emergency’ bag in the car for long days out from which I had to clear newborn sized nappies, as we never used them.
      I would like to point out that I am not an avid baby-wearer, I don’t wear Lu at home at all.. but this is the only way I can get my shopping done. each to their own, I say. 🙂

    • I don’t own a stroller, and use my moby wrap all the time to carry my baby. I don’t have a car either – I am dependent on buses and trains, and it seems much easier with the baby attached to me than it would be if I had a buggy. How would I get the buggy onto the subway? My partner does drive though – but the baby is rarely taken in the car.

  11. Also, can I just say that I love that most of the above comments make it obvious that I am not the only mom who does the majority of her outings on foot and by transit?

    I live in a pretty car-dependent city and usually people look at me like I am insane if I mention I walked 20 minutes or took the bus to get somewhere with my baby!

  12. Oh I HOWLED with laughter reading this.
    I was *exactly* the same pre-birth & invasion of pure logistics!!
    A month in I got our stroller. We now sling AND stroll. But usually? We go out in twos always, so we arms-it.
    But the stroller! A useful invention!
    Balance rocks 🙂

  13. This post is awesome! I have a girlfriend(without any children in her life I might add) who was horrified that an all terrain stroller was one of the things I first bought while pregnant. She even printed me off this big article on how women in Africa refuse to use strollers and went off about how I would be pushing my baby away from me etc etc etc you get the picture. But when the baby was born and I asked her to carry my girl in her sling while on a moderate hike she started to rethink her stance on strollers after about 5 minutes! Ha!
    I adore my baby sling but that stroller rocks it too!

  14. I definitely identify with this post – my mom and I had sewn up several wraps in anticipation of the birth of my daughter – we accepted a hand-me-down stroller graciously but convinced we would never use it! Then when my daughter’s birth was harder on my body than expected (4 hours of pushing can mess up your lady parts for a while!) it took me a long time (several weeks) to recover enough to be able to hold her by myself and walk at the same time! It took me WAAAAY too long to remember that we had a stroller tucked away in the closet, but then I was able to take a much needed (gentle!) walk with my baby.

  15. Changing bags are a pain… mine does weight a tonne. For the one I’m currently cooking up I’m planning to buy a good backpack, a lightweight changing mat and that will do the job, especially as I do hope to use a sling more this time round.

  16. All I can hear going round in my head is Maggie Gyllenhal’s character in “Away We Go” beseeching anyone nearby “Why would I want to PUSH my child AWAY from me???” I howled, literally and actually howled at that part. I get the idea, and I’m down with it if it works for you but, I think strollers pretty much rock for long winding walks and anything involving shopping!

  17. for me, i found more freedom in a stroller when they got older. they could move around more, stretch out, and feed themselves when they got hungry on the tray, plus they could see everything better. i could also pick up my other kids at will and them if i needed too. i wore my kids until about four or five months and then put them in the stroller. there is something about them having their own space and them having more control i guess… my kids always seem happier in a stroller. don’t get me wrong, at first they loved to be worn, but as they got older and more mobile, they loved the stroller better. they could reach out and touch things, they could look away if they wanted too. they could stretch their legs. they could be alone if they wanted too or beg for attention… they could eat a snack or carry a drink. they had a place to set their lovey or they could hold it. they could have toys or no toys… that kind of thing. they could do those things where as if they were on me, they could not. they would just have to hang there and not do anything unless i held it for them or gave it to them.

    as for the diaper bag?? it is a life saver!! i swear mine is stuffed to the brim with all sorts of things… but i have more then one to pack for!

  18. I love strollers. I wear my baby, but the stroller is great for putting everything else in. It looks hilarious when I walk around pushing groceries in a sroller with a baby on my hip though. I still don’t dare drink coffee though…the baby would knock it away from me lol.

  19. I miss my stroller! I wore my babies 90% of the time but LOVED pushing the stroller of stuff! I had this all-terrain one that could go up any mountain path and hold a ton of stuff or fold flat for a sleeping toddler. I used it instead of a crib inside the tent when camping… Now the kids walk and I am a pack horse when we go big shopping!

  20. My fiance and i are planning on baby wearing, but we have also acquired three strollers! A little one, a regular sized one, and one for jogging. Ideally we’ll wear more often but we know that it isn’t always going to be practical.

  21. I’m surprised no one has commented on babywearing v. strollers in regards to being a mom with a disability. I am pregnant with my first kid, and I love the idea of carrying Junior around everywhere, but the reality is that I have such bad back and joint problems that I sometimes have to use a cane just to walk around my house. My husband will be home 4 days a week, so he will probably get more use out of the baby carrier than I will, but we plan on getting at least one stroller. I also plan on getting a stroller that is as lightweight as possible (without being flimsy). I would actually love to see an article (and please let me know if I just haven’t found it yet!) on OBHL about being a new parent and having a physical disability.

Join the Conversation