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Holiday Wrap-Up

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The 9YL family wishes everyone on the internet a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Ours was fun but exhausting…

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Unwrapping at home

We spent Christmas Eve and Day at home just hanging out. Baby2 discovered a love for wrapping paper. As we unwrapped her gifts with her she stared with wonder at the paper. Even after her gift was uncovered she reached for paper first every time.

Kiddo1 got the 3DS XL that he’s been wanting and saving up for. Mr. Handsome wrapped a box in a box in a box so Kiddo1 had to unwrap a few boxes to get to it. Although I don’t agree with the practice it was fun to watch Kiddo1 get a little frustrated and then SO excited when he saw the actual gift.

Kiddo1 had some, what I’ll call, “milestone” interactions with his younger sister as he handed her presents and said things like, “this one’s for you, [Baby2],” and said them while looking her in the face. This is a milestone as he doesn’t tend to acknowledge her much. I really need to write a whole post about this subject because it is interesting how Kiddo1 makes little baby steps toward interaction with his sibling. I have heard that it can take most kids (and I’d think especially older kids) at least six months to start really acknowledging the new family member. I’m trying not to pressure him too much because I don’t want to do any damage but at the same time it’s like, dude, she’s not going away get over it already. But that’s not fair. Ugh, I could really get going but I’m saving it for another time.

Anyway, Mr. Handsome and I spent the rest of Christmas Day preparing for our annual trip to Phoenix to visit family. My parents and his parents live there, as well as my only living grandparent, my only brother and one of Mr. Handsome’s two brothers, although none of us is actually from the area (Kiddo1 was born there though). It’s always good times seeing our family, and this year was especially sweet to re-introduce people to Baby2. Babies change so much in such a short time; she’s so different now than when they saw her as a newborn!

This was Baby2’s first trip away from home and logistically it was great. We traveled with cloth diapers and I gotta tell ya, it was super easy. I don’t know if cloth diapering is so easy for us because I pretty much refuse to acknowledge that disposables exist at this point or if we’re just really lucky. Baby2 still being exclusively breastfed probably helps a little, too. We took about 15 diapers with us and did diaper laundry three times during our five-day stay. My carry on bag (backpack) was about half full of diapers, but honestly there’s not much else I need except for my wallet and water bottle.

Of course breastfeeding simplified things a ton because we never had to worry about when Baby2 was going to eat or how she would get fed. One less thing to plan for us to worry about, thank goodness. I did take my pump with me and I’m glad I took the whole big electric pump instead of just my manual one. I worried about putting it in our checked luggage (what if it got lost?! Or damaged?? The horror!!) but everything turned out fine. I strapped it in our checked car seat for some extra security. I was able to donate all the extra milk that I pumped during our trip so I didn’t have to hassle with bringing it back and I met another very sweet mama of an adopted baby girl who was grateful for a little extra milk.

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She loves the peanut packets!

Baby2 did very well during her first trip. The flights were fine (direct on the way there, one connection on the way back) and the altitude change didn’t seem to bother her sweet baby ears at all, although she was eating during take off for each flight so I hope that helped. She made what she probably considers the greatest discovery of her life so far when she saw the airlines packets of peanuts. I’ve never seen her so excited or grab an object so quickly. We asked for extra on the flight back and we now have a couple sitting around just in case she needs a major distraction. They’re shiny and crinkly! What’s not to like?

Kiddo1 is a seasoned traveler and was not at all phased by the extra family member during this trip. He’s been handling his own bags for years so we were free to manage everything else. There’s one of the major benefits of having kids several years apart – you really only have one “wild card” kid at a time. Baby2 could (potentially) freak out at any moment but Kiddo1’s behavior is fairly constant at this point.

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Baby2 watches Mr. Handsome play in the water from her warm and dry Ergo

Wearing Baby2 through the airport and during all our “site-seeing” worked wonderfully. We had hands free in the airport to mess with bags and check in. You don’t have to take off your baby carrier when you go through x-ray which was great (although they do an alcohol-swab test on your hands for explosives which only takes a second). We could walk through the tiny terminal stores and restaurants without getting stuck – a stroller would never make it through some of those spots. My mom  had bought a stroller for us to use while we were there (even though I asked her not to) and we didn’t use it at all. Anytime we went somewhere we either held Baby2 or used our Ergo. It worked out quite well.

All in all it was a good trip for everyone. We were super grateful to return on New Years Eve at around 11 so we made it home and snuggled in to watch the ball drop just before midnight. We counted down the seconds left of 2012 and cheered in the new year together. Then we finally had a good night’s sleep in our own beds. I’m sure I can speak for everyone in the family when I say it was so very wonderful to sleep in our own beds again.

Happy 2013, internet!

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The Great Stroller-Free Experiment, Volume 1

While I was pregnant with Baby2, I wondered if we actually needed a stroller. Just how much baby mobility can be successfully accomplished without using a stroller? Would forgoing the stroller make transit with an infant easier? Faster? More or less of a pain in the ass? In this series of posts I’ll talk about my challenge to forgo the stroller as much as possible.

For the first six weeks of Baby2’s life, Mr. Handsome and I have used our Moby wrap for all baby transit outside of her car seat. We’ve tried the Ergo a couple times but Baby2 isn’t quite big enough (I’m currently scouting out an infant insert on Craig’s List) so this post is focused completely on the Moby wrap.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppI usually do the baby wearing but that’s mostly because I’m quick at getting the Moby on. Mr. Handsome can do it but he needs a little help still (hence the search for an Ergo infant insert). I caught on to the wrapping of the Moby pretty well but it is kind of a dance to get it put on. Once it’s on properly it is super comfortable. The fabric is soft and stretchy and it’s all wrapped around me in a big hug. A hug with my baby in it! What could be better?!

We wore Baby2 literally everywhere, as the only other option we had for the first six weeks was carrying her car seat around (those things are too big and clumsy for me!). With visitors in town we went to a lot of busy/touristy places. It was/is super easy to get through crowds with Baby2 strapped to my chest and no big ol’ stroller in taking up space in front of me. We could move through swarms of people with ease in all the packed places we visited this summer, including street fairs, museums, the zoo and amusement parks. Plus, we would never have made it through to Kiddo1’s classroom when we dropped him off on the first day of school. It was a huge mass of people, a chaos of excited children. I’ll keep my baby close-in, thankyouverymuch.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppNow whilst in these crowds of people there’s bound to be a sweet old lady or someone who loves babies and wants to get thisclose to Baby2 and touch her face and hands and breathe stranger breath all over my sweet little healthy darling. The Moby helps keep Hands Off because Baby2 is all in my personal bubble, see, so people tend to feel less free to touch, touch, touch. I can also pull a little fabric up over her face if things get really loud and crazy. Or if I’m walking in the sun and need a little shade on Baby2’s porcelain face.

Speaking of sun, you know what travels through sand on the beach real easy? Bare feet. You know what doesn’t? Stroller wheels. Boom.

You know what keeps Baby2 super duper happy and allows me to get stuff done around the house? Baby wearing. Sometimes there’s just no soothing this baby who loves me so much that I must hold her always. But mama needs to get stuff done! Baby wearing to the rescue! Sure, moving laundry from washer to dryer is a little difficult, but folding clothes is fine. Washing dishes can get messy but putting them away is easy. Etcetera, etcetera…

Of course there are a few setbacks to exclusive baby wearing. I wear Baby2 when we go out to eat and I have to hunch over a bit so I don’t get crumbs all over her sweet little head. But not having a stroller in a restaurant is great because squeezing a stroller through a labyrinth of tables and chairs is pretty much impossible, not to mention the space it takes up at a table. So we break even on that one.

A bigger con, especially during the summer, is that the wrap can get warm. It’s wonderful in the chilly morning dropping Kiddo1 off at school (at least for the next couple days while I’m still on maternity leave!). Baby2 can soak in my body heat, I get a warm bundle of joy on my chest and everyone wins. But when it’s 90 degrees in direct sunlight and Baby2’s face is melting into my chest it’s just not the most comfortable situation.

A final negative for exclusive baby wearing, one that I could work around but just came up in the last week, is that walking around wearing a wrap without a baby in it is kind of weird. See, the 15 meters of fabric you wrap around yourself can drag on the ground a bit while you’re wrapping so it’s best to wrap yourself up before leaving the house. But then sometimes you’re walking around without a baby in the wrap, like if you get out of the car to pay for gas (leaving your husband and older child with the baby, of course!) or when the baby needs to come out of the wrap and be held by daddy because she’s melting into your chest at a street fair in early August and you’re walking around said street fair looking like you’re trying to lead a new scarf-tying trend.

Anyway. Back to the positives. The coolest thing about wearing my baby is that she’s close to me. We gaze into each others’ eyes. She nuzzles into my chest (probably looking for a nipple). She falls asleep and I can feel her breath on my skin. I feel connected to her. I really like having her so close and protected. It’s really nice. Plus I can move through crowds with ease AND I’ve got a whole extra person attached to me! Smiley face.

Next time, some interesting challenges test my exclusive baby wearing commitment. Will I cave to the stroller?! Tune in to find out.

Baby Gear Obsessions: Transportation

This is the first post in a series about baby gear I’m lusting after. I haven’t purchased/used all of these products so these posts are not reviews but rather an overview of research I’ve done. I’m planning on three posts that I’ll publish over the next month or so. Transportation is first (obviously, because that’s what you’re reading right now), then Eating, then Home. Eating will cover stuff like breast pumps, bottles, support pillows and high chairs (which I know we won’t need for awhile but hey, might as well cover it while I’m thinking about it). Home will include our top crib choices, changing table, diaper stuff, bouncy seats, and play accessories like mats.  See, there’s a whole bunch of stuff! And I think I’m pretty minimalist!

Transportation includes a car seat, wraps/carriers, diaper bags and bike accessories (but no strollers as I’m quickly moving toward the anti movement).

Car Seats

Here’s what I think is important in a car seat:

  • Safety, of course. A good side-impact rating is a must, since we drive a minivan.
  • Snap-in style so we can leave a base in the car and take the seat out (although I don’t see us using it as a carrier very often).
  • Doesn’t need to be convertible because we’ll probably want another seat in a year or two anyway.
  • Preferably an ergonomic handle if we have to carry it around.
  • Of course, aesthetics do play a role. In other words, it must be a least a little bit cute!

This is what I’ve chosen for pick #1:

The Britax Chaperone Infant Car Seat in Cowmooflage

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  • First, this car seat is top-rated for side impacts. It also has this anti-rebound bar which apparently “stabilizes [the] seat by minimizing rotational forces associated with front and rear collisions.” (Description from Amazon.)
  • It snaps in to a base (the anti-rebound bar stays with the base) so we can take it out and into the house at night.
  • So far the reviews have claimed that it is easy to carry from a ergonomic standpoint. They also say it is a bit heavy, though. I’m okay with this since I don’t see us using it as a carrier too much, not with all the great options below!
  • Um, how adorable is the cowmooflage print?!
  • Aside from the weight, the only other con I’ve read is that the whole thing takes up a lot of room. This also doesn’t both me because we have a large minivan. I imagine that the seat which holds the carrier will need to be on a side of the van that is used for baby only – no crawling into the back seat from that side.

Car seat pick #2 is… okay, not chosen. Mostly because I’m really in love with the Britax! Moving on…

Baby Carriers/Wraps

Wow, there are SO many carriers out there now – way more than nine years ago. All we really had back then was the Baby Bjorn and DIY options. Now there’s so much more – carrier style, wrap style, sling style, soft structure, framed structure, mei tai, ring sling, the list goes on and on!

The important traits of each carrier varies a bit by style, but mainly they have to be:

  • Safe
  • Comfortable (duh)
  • Easy
  • Versatile (newborn to toddler, multiple wearing options, fits both me and Mr. Handsome – and maybe even Kiddo1!)
  • Stylish
  • Extras (like pockets) are always nice!

Here are my top choices, one carrier style soft structure, one (or two) wrap style and one ring sling.

Ergo Baby Organic Baby Carrier

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  • It’s safe! Baby is right there in front of you. No worries! Plus the straps are secure, sewing quality is great, etc.
  • All the reviews are unwavering on the comfort factor, with reviewers testifying about multi-hour excursions with their Ergos without a back or shoulder problem to complain of (at least not related to the carrier!). This is a step up from the Bjorn. Plus I just want to snuggle the soft organic cotton!
  • It is comfortable for baby, too, as baby is supported in a natural seated position as recommended by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
  • It’s very easy – nothing to wrap just strap it on.
  • It will fit newborns down to 7 pounds (babies 7-12 pounds should use the Heart2Heart Infant Insert, sold separately) and toddlers up to 45 pounds! Plus you can wear it on your front, back or hip. The adjustable straps help it to fit all sizes.
  • It is definitely the more masculine-looking carrier of the three so it’s the one I see Mr. Handsome using most frequently. It comes in a range of colors but I’m partial to the black because it will go with my mostly black-based wardrobe and it’s more manly than the star or flower prints.
  • It has the nicely-sized pocket in the front which could probably carry a diaper, a couple wipes, and ID. All you need for a quick walk to the store or for an emergency when you’re separated from your diaper bag for some reason.

Moby Wrap or Boba Wrap

Okay I have two in the wrap style category. I’m having a really hard time deciding between the two. Let’s compare, shall we? They’re both great in the important traits I’ve chosen so not a lot to compare there, but I’ve added a few tangible differences that I noticed in my research:

PhotobucketMoby Wrap PhotobucketBoba Wrap
Safety No complaints Same as Moby
Comfort Even weight distribution (entire back and shoulders) Same as Moby
Ease Takes practice at first, then easy (but wrap before you leave the house) Same as Moby
Versatility 5-35 lbs, endless carrying options, can wrap to fit almost anyone Same as Moby
Style Endless print options Not quite as many prints/colors as the Moby (that I’ve seen)
Length 18 feet long 16.5 feet long
Width 23 inches wide 19 inches wide
Material 100% cotton, same look/feel on both sides 95% cotton 5% spandex, “right” and “wrong” side to the fabric
Weight lighter fabric, not as hot heavier fabric

Speaking of comparisons, the Eco-Friendly Family blog also has a fantastic list of nearly all the brand carriers and their characteristics.

Ring Sling

I haven’t made up my mind on this one at all, the field is as wide open as for the wrap-style carriers, but I’ve registered for…

Maya Wrap

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  • Good safety ratings
  • The one-shoulder design doesn’t look as comfortable as the two-shoulder options, but…
  • The ease of not having to wrap it may make up for that?
  • Fits babies up to 35 pounds, doesn’t seem like there are too many wearing options but the reviews state otherwise, the medium size fits people 5’2″ to 5’9″ so it probably wouldn’t fit Mr. Handsome.
  • Nice colors!
  • It has a pocket! Reviews state that the extra bit of fabric is also great for a nursing cover.

You might be able to tell, from my lack of enthusiasm with this one, that I’m not completely sold on the ring sling yet. I’m sure it has it’s place, though. I’ll keep thinking…

Diaper Bags

We don’t do fancy diaper bags. First off, Mr. Handsome does day duty while I work (he works in the evenings) so we don’t want some girly, fancy bag. I don’t want a bag covered in butterflies or ABCs or something, either, because I’m an adult, not a child. Therefore, we use one of the many backpacks we’ve accumulated in our lives.

PhotobucketMy preferred backpack is similar to the one pictured here: it is by Eddie Bauer (except ours is hunter green and doesn’t have the suede bottom) and I’ve had it for 13 years. It still looks brand new even though I’ve traveled internationally with it, used it all through college (it’s even pictured in the bike seat section below!), used it as a diaper bag for Kiddo1 and not treated it nearly as well as I should have.

It has all the things a diaper bag has and more:

  • Outside pockets to keep things like bottles, wipes, toys, pacifiers and other placidifiers at hand.
  • A big main pocket for lots of diapers, a blanket, change of clothes, snacks, etc.
  • TWO straps so you don’t have to wear it cross-body (which can conflict with the baby-wearing), you can stay hands-free and all that goodness.
  • Not “mommy” looking.
  • A use beyond the diaper phase.

I like to get a diaper changing pad to put in my bag, too, because changing diapers on those public fold-out things grosses me out a bit. I have two options in mind here:

Skip*Hop Pronto Changing Wallet

PhotobucketThere are lots of different kinds of these that basically do/are the same thing: they fold up to the size of a travel-size wipes container and unfold to a mat on which baby can be placed for a changing. We registered for this one because a) I think the print is cute and b) it’s the one Target had. Not a lot to it, really. The baby pictured here looks happy, right?

Another bit of awesomeness is that you don’t have to wipe down the public changing facility if baby, say, poops a little extra or gives you a “bonus pee” mid-change. Sure you still have to worry about the wallet surface but, if you’re in a hurry, just get going if needed (except for maybe mopping up the excess pee, because no one wants to carry around pee).

A tad more all-inclusive option is the Ergo Baby Changing Pad

PhotobucketThis one is cool because it’s like a mini-diaper bag. It has pockets for stuff like a wallet, keys, small toys, a spare diaper or two, etc. It probably won’t fit too many diapers or a blanket or change of clothes but it will work if you’re just running a quick errand or something. PLUS it hooks on to the Ergo carrier!

It still folds out to a changing surface but it is a bit bigger than the wallet.

I’d love both of these but if I had to pick one I’d probably go for the wallet simply because it’s smaller and will fit in the backpack. Once we don’t need as much stuff to be carried around (change of clothes, etc.) then I’d most likely go for the Ergo.

I’m not even going to get into the plethora of wet bags that are out there for the retreat of soiled cloth diapers back to the washing location. There are so many. Shoot, I’d probably use a ziplock baggie most of the time though – just wash it out and reuse it right? We’ll see how that works…

Bike Seat, Trailer

Mr. Handsome does a lot of biking during the day while I have the car at work (I have a long commute, public transit takes 90 minutes one way, there are lots of reasons why I drive the car). We like to bike in the evenings and on weekends as well, especially in the summer. We’re going to need some bike accessories to keep this up after Baby2 arrives.

It’s important to note that most bike accessories can not be used until baby is at least one year old and can sit completely on their own.

Here’s what is important in bike accessories:

  • Safety
  • Ease of use: it can’t be too hard to get Baby2 in and out of it
  • Convenience: taking it on or off the bike should be easy (in the case of a trailer; we probably won’t take the bike seat off very often)
  • Versatility: again, more of a trait for the trailer – can we put groceries in it if one of us runs to the store sans kids?

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppWe had a Wee Ride Kangaroo bike seat for Kiddo1 before he could ride, which I completely plan on getting again. They still make these (yay!) and you can get them from WeeRide.com or Amazon, of course.

Here’s Kiddo1 and I with the seat when he was a couple years old. We used it every day to get to preschool for him and college classes for me. People would actually come up to me in their cars and ask me about the seat – I think it was pretty new back then. Kiddo1 loved the seat because he had an unobstructed view to the world. We would sing together on our rides. That was good times!

Some great things about the seat:

  • It feels way safer than the seats that go behind you. For one, you can see your child while you’re riding so if something needs adjustments (say they wiggle an arm out of the safety straps or something) you can quickly stop and make them as opposed to turning around all the time to check on your child.
  • It’s super, super easy to get your child in and out of plus it’s easy to attach to the bike. There’s a single flat bar that attaches to the posts that hold your handlebars and seat. The bar is fully adjustable so it can fit any size bike. The baby seat attaches to the bar with a simple thumb screw so you could take the seat part on and off whenever, if you wanted to.
  • I never found the seat to be much use for anything other than carrying my child. (I tried to carry my backpack in it once and the straps got all tangled in my handlebars and I feel over. On campus. During the height of the mid-morning class rush. On one of the main malls. Em-bar-ass-ing.) I wouldn’t even call this a con, though (the fall was a con, for sure).
  • I actually can’t think of any cons about this seat. People on Amazon complained about the safety straps being difficult but I don’t recall having any issues with this. They also complain about not having a lot of room for their legs but, again, I found this not to be the case. To each his own I guess!
  • Children must be one year old and the weight limit is 40 pounds.

InStep Trailer

InStep makes a good line of bike trailers that are very cost effective. Trailers can get expensive quickly, but these are all priced under $200, some even under $100. We had one of these with Kiddo1 and it came in very handy for all sorts of things. We got rid of it (gave it to my parents) after he started riding his own bike decent distances, but we totally should have kept it for the grocery shopping/errands on a bike potential. This time we won’t make that mistake again!

Notable things about trailers:

  • Safe: baby/toddler is all strapped in back there and covered, just in case the straps wiggle loose. They can’t climb out either because of the aforementioned cover. They’re close enough to you that you can hear cries if they need help.
  • Pretty ease to load up the kiddo if I remember correctly. Ours also had a spring mechanism so you could take it off your bike quickly. The only con is that the main anchor stays on your bike and there’s usually only one so you can’t really transfer from bike to bike. I suppose you could look for another anchor piece if you needed though.
  • Trailers are super useful for carrying other stuff. Like I said, we used ours for the grocery store and my parents still use the one we gave them for that purpose even several years later. I’ve also seen dogs carried around in these things which I’m not sure is advisable. Basically any cargo can go in here, up to the weight limit (probably 100 pounds or so but don’t quote me on that).
  • Children must be one year old and the weight limit is probably 40 pounds like with the bike seat, but I’m not completely sure so again, don’t take my word for it.

Whew! There is a LOT of gear for transporting a baby! And that’s only one category – there’s still SO much gear to talk about!

Next post in this series: home gear!

The Anti-Stroller Movement

Disclaimer: In this post, I bash stroller use. However, I do not mean to offend or discriminate against parents or caregivers who use strollers either out of choice or necessity. I completely understand that there are circumstances in which a stroller is needed. So, again, I mean no offense.

We used a stroller with Baby1, I’ll admit it. I’ve spoken of my youthful naiveté a few times, but back then I didn’t think/know there was any other way. However, this time around I’ve been questioning if we’ll purchase a stroller at all – it all started back in early February when I posted a pros/cons list comparing strollers to wraps/carriers. Since then, the weather has warmed here in the Pacific NW and the fam and I have been out and about a lot more. In our adventures, I have been noticing strollers more than normal – first to scope out brands people are using in case we did decide to get one but then I couldn’t help but notice peoples’ behaviors while using a stroller.

Behaviors during stroller use are interesting to watch. First, it doesn’t seem like people pay very much attention to their baby when he or she is in a stroller. There’s not a lot of interaction when the baby is facing away from the pusher and is a good couple feet away from the pusher, if not more. Baby can’t see you, you can’t see baby. You can’t see baby drop something, grab something, start to get uncomfortable, etc.

Second, people use their strollers to make a path for themselves, sometimes quite aggressively. I have been hit on the heels a few times and have witnessed what happens to other people who get in the way, too. People without strollers don’t really look for them because they are lower than eye level, so they usually get pushed if they don’t move out of the way fast enough. Pushers of strollers sometimes do it on purpose (the parents at the zoo are really bad at this) but most of the time they are too distracted to notice what they’re doing – distracted by other kids, getting stuff out of one of the many stroller compartments, simply looking around, etc.

Third, people seem to use their strollers as a child-carrying mechanism only about fifty percent of the time. The other times the stroller is loaded up with shopping bags, coats, you name it. Would all that stuff really need to be pushed around if you didn’t have something to push it around with? We usually stuff our coats in a locker when we go to the science center (even malls have lockers). We use a backpack as a diaper bag so we can be hands-free.

Apparently there’s this whole anti-stroller movement out there. The movement, I think, can be broken into two parts: businesses that have banned strollers and parents that refuse to use them.

PhotobucketSome business, usually in urban areas, have banned the use of strollers in their stores. This makes some parents quite upset. They equate the ban of strollers to the ban of children in general. Most of the time, I don’t feel like that is the case. I feel like the businesses are protecting their other customers from the inconveniences of others’ stroller use, such as being hit by a stroller and not being able to move freely throughout the store or restaurant because paths are blocked by strollers (this can be a fire hazard sometimes). You can’t fit as many people in a store because a stroller can easily take up the space of one or two (or more!) standing people. While banning strollers is certainly not a great PR move in the eyes of parents, to the childless (or the below group of anti-stroller parents) it is a welcome restriction.

An aquarium in Cleveland is considering a stroller ban – they’re taking a vote and, as of the article posted in January 2012, sixty-nine percent of votes are in favor of a ban. What bothers me about some of the comments following the article is that people compare strollers to wheelchairs; the two are no where near the same, and it is insulting to those in a wheelchair for that comparison to be made. The difference is clear: people in wheelchairs have no choice. Tangent over.

There is a whole movement amongst parents that is pretty anti-stroller. There was an article in the NY Times about how a new generation of parents are shunning the stroller in favor of baby-wearing. Granted, some of the time these parents are picking up on a trend and buying fancy carriers to fit in with their social groups. However, a lot of the time, I think parents recognize the convenience of not using a stroller.

I’m repeating a bit from my last post about strollers, but the benefits of baby-wearing over stroller use are fantastic:

  • You save space in your home, car and general environment when you’re out. For me, I felt very self-conscious when I pushed around a huge stroller that took up a lot of space, especially in a crowded area like a packed farmers’ market.
  • It’s a lot easier to care for your baby when he or she is strapped to your chest or hip. You don’t have to lean over the stroller to check on your child or constantly pick up toys that have been dropped or take away items that have been grabbed (and try to figure out where they came from). You can easily shade baby’s eyes from the sun or protect them from the rain or cold.
  • It’s a lot less expensive to get a couple good carriers or wraps rather than a big ol’ stroller. For example, the wraps I’m lusting after cost about $50 (except for the structured carrier that I want, which is just over $100 but it is useful for carrying up to 45 pounds). The stroller that I wanted up until I had this revelation was $500. The more budget-friendly option is one of those car seat carriers which start at about $60, but that’s like the gateway drug of strollers, right? Before you know if you’ve got a jogger (I don’t run), a travel system, an umbrella, etc, etc. I’d much rather be addicted to baby carriers – they take up a lot less space.
  • It’s easier to travel with a carrier or wrap. The airport people won’t take it from you at the gate, you can stuff it into your carry-on and you can navigate the airport with ease. I enjoy hassle-free traveling.

Clearly, I’ve started to join this anti-stroller movement. I find myself sneering at strollers sometimes which I know is not good and I need to check myself. I understand completely that stroller use is sometimes needed or even the only option that parents have. There are physical limitations that warrant the use of strollers: if I had a c-section I would probably use one for awhile, if I had back problems or a foot or leg injury I wouldn’t wear my baby as a safety precaution and out of general comfort. I’m sure there are other reasons for strollers so I will work on not judging others. But I wish stroller use was less common – I wish people would realize that it isn’t the only way to transport your child when you are a pedestrian!

Even my youthful self realized the benefits of not using a stroller back when Kiddo1 was about one year old. We had visited Chicago a few months before and brought our huge travel system with us. We only take public transit when we’re in the city and we always stay downtown. We took that giant stroller/car seat combo on the train with disastrous results. PhotobucketWe didn’t think to collapse the thing and the amount of space we took up was downright embarrassing. It was, by far, my worst personal experience with public transit. I could feel and see people glaring at us as they struggled to get by.

For our next trip to the city we bought a Baby Bjorn. It was amazing – such a difference in getting around the city, visiting tourist attractions, traveling through the airport, you name it. We didn’t take a stroller with us on that trip at all. We were gone for eight days and visited three cities and it was the best traveling we did with our baby. I’m glad I remember that trip now that I’ve thought more about our potential stroller use: I know that we can live that way in our day-to-day.

Luckily stroller use seems to be declining, to the good fortune of shoppers, travelers and zoo visitors everywhere. I hope that more able parents see the benefits of not using the stroller and come over to the “anti” movement as well!

Do We Really Need a Stroller?

The stroller is typically one of the most researched and important new-baby purchases that parents make. For good reason, it is expensive and gets used a lot. Or does it get used a lot? The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that we might not need a stroller. At least for the first few months, I think we can get by with a baby sling or wrap to tote our bundle around (and a car seat when we have to drive, of course).

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Look at how much use these strollers are getting!

So what are strollers good for anyway? Will we use the stroller for these purposes?

  • Walks to the park – sure, but I’d rather use a sling/wrap, especially for the first few months.
  • Walks around the neighborhood – yes, but again, baby-wearing is cool with me.
  • Shopping at the grocery store – nope, with Baby1 we put the carseat in the cart (in the big basket part). Pushing around a stroller AND a cart doesn’t work. Using just the stroller doesn’t work either because the basket is too small and awkward to reach.

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    A stroller or a shopping cart?

  • Hanging at the mall – I don’t hang at the mall (and if I went to do some serious shopping, the stroller is too big for most of the stores I’d want to go in anyway).
  • Trips to the zoo – it bothers me when big strollers take up all the exhibit room. A wrap is better here.
  • Traveling via airplane/walking the airport – simply because lugging the carseat around sucks, this is the only place I could see the stroller winning out over the wrap. But we don’t plan on traveling with Baby2 for awhile so this one doesn’t carry much weight (haha, get it?).

See, I don’t think we’d really use it all that much. The most we’d use it for is walking to the park when we take Max (which is every day) but we’d have to push it in the grass, up hills and around dog poop; that could be more trouble than it’s worth. Just to be sure, though, I examined some pros and cons:

Pros of Stroller Cons of a Wrap Pros of a Wrap Cons of a Stroller
You can put your child and stuff in it and push it around Only room for baby You can wear a back pack too to even out the weight and carry your stuff The basket is only so big (but, then again, so is the back pack)
It isn’t as hard on your back when baby gets a bit too heavy for the wrap. Baby can get heavy There are good wraps that distribute the weight pretty well. Only light when you’re pushing it (not when loading in the car, getting on the bus, etc.)
?? ?? Completely hands-free It isn’t hands-free, you’ve got to use at least one hand at all times (even when stopped – you’ve got to be safe!)
?? ?? It doesn’t take up any room! It takes up a lot of room (in the aisles, on the bus, in the trunk, stored in the house, etc.)
It’s super cute! ?? Compared to a stroller, it’s cheap ($300-500 compared to $30-50). And you can get them in all sorts of colors! It’s expensive
?? ?? Baby is right there next to you! It’s easy to soothe baby if he/she gets fussy. Baby seems so far away from you and maybe a tad isolated too

I’m biased now, but I’m thinking the pros of a wrap and the cons of a stroller are really backing up my hypothesis here.

The good thing is, we still have several months to make this decision. I know we’ll end up getting a stroller at some point, but I’d much rather spend $20-30 on a little umbrella stroller when Baby2 is big enough rather than a having huge expensive stroller at birth that we’ll barely use.

Now on to research all the baby sling and wrap possibilities!