Don’t Buy It: Baby Strollers

9 06 2009

Can someone please explain to me why anyone buys a baby stroller? If you have triplets or you run a daycare, OK, I understand (or I suppose more than two tots under the age of two in whatever combination). But for able-bodied people towing one baby, I simply don’t understand what use they serve. They are bulky and every bit as hard to drive as a shopping cart with a bum wheel. If you go anywhere and try to stop and do something you have to find a safe place to park them. (And then someone steals it!) They separate you from your cuddly baby, who then cries and complains at the loneliness of it all. And they decondition your toddler, who then screams and complains whenever s/he’s asked to use hir legs for the purpose God provided them. Some people spend hundreds of dollars on a baby stroller. Why?

Seriously, for babies too small to walk, allow me to introduce you to the Baby Bjorn, which is truly a marvel of modern engineering. Or a baby sling, which you can make yourself (although truthfully we had one, and we couldn’t really make ours work for us, but different strokes). Or, you know, you do have arms and shoulders.

Baby Floppy on Mama's Shoulders

Once they get big enough to walk, they can walk. We were amazed at how far toddler Floppy could walk, and how perfectly calibrated his abilities were to our stamina. When he was too tiny to walk at all, he was portable in a carrier. When he was big enough to walk a little, he was comfortable to carry on shoulders when he got tired. When he was big enough to be exhausting to carry, he could walk as far as we could with only a little encouragement. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. For the millenia when human beings walked all day, every day, they didn’t have baby strollers.

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13 responses

16 06 2009
16 06 2009
dontbuyit

:laughs: I loooove my baby, too. 🙂

19 06 2009
Terese

After my son was born, my back was so weak and sore that I couldn’t even hold him while standing up for the 20 minutes or so of a church service that require standing. It took about six months before I was able to hold him and stand/walk for longer periods. So, in my case, I loved having a (free) stroller because it allowed me to keep exercising/running errands, without having to get a babysitter. Baby Bjourns are very uncomfortable for anyone with back problems. In fact, their is a fitness pro with a series called “Lose Your Mummy Tummy”, where she deals with the medical causes of postpartum lower back pain/abs unresponsive to exercise. One of her chief recommendations is to only use a Baby Bjourn if you are also wearing a “splint” around your belly, to prevent your “diastasis” (split in the muscles) from getting worse/hurting your back.

Also, if you live near where you shop/run errands, a stroller is great because your hands are free, and you can pile library books/diaper bag, etc. in the basket under the stroller.

However, these are easy to come by secondhand either free or close to it, so there is definitely no need to go crazy with a designer stroller.

Finally, I love your style of writing. You have such a sophisticated manner with words, and it’s great to read a PF blog like this. Yes, PF is pretty simple, but it’s still great to read more nuanced language.

19 06 2009
dontbuyit

Yep, a back disability is definitely a good reason to have a stroller! (Also makes me wonder how much back pain postpartum might be related to medical birth practices, like having a C-section or an epidural.)

I did have a terrible but short-lived problem with sciatica during pregnancy and briefly postpartum. (Terrible as in, it would flare up and then I couldn’t move at all, because one leg wouldn’t hold my weight.) I saw a physical therapist a couple of times, she rubbed my back, I did a few back strengthening exercises, and it went away. I never linked it the Bjorn, since it never did flare up when I was wearing the Bjorn or even carrying the baby. I did have trouble with other baby carriers, but that one was always terrifically comfortable for me.

19 06 2009
dontbuyit

Oh, and thanks for your kind words! Glad you are here! 🙂

24 06 2009
Meredith

I second the need for a stroller for a bad back. The baby bjorn killed me after just a few weeks, having had a 10 lb baby. My back has never been the same.

I also found the stroller handles useful for hanging bags and storing the diaper bag, umbrellas, drinks, etc. It became a family dumping ground and was still easy to push. Anything we could possibly require was available.

But best of all? My very independent child (who walked at 11 months) was securely strapped in a fixed location. Without the stroller she would run off with gleeful abandon. That’s just not safe at that age. I can say her name and call her back until I turn blue, but if she wants to run off or trash some items on a shelf in a store, she does. If I stop her by picking her up she screams like a banshee, making us and everyone in the vacinity miserable. A stroller filled with toys is a great distraction- she is having fun and I am getting my business done efficiently. People blessed with docile children may be able to do without a stroller, but not me!

I was able to get my Kolcraft RECLINING umbrella stroller – new- for $30 with free shipping off of amazon.com. That was the best spent money in my opinion. It was used for 4 years straight before geting donated to Goodwill for use by someone else. That’s a great value.

Many new moms make the mistake of buying a “travel system” with a bulky stroller and infant sized carseat (that they quickly outgrow or are too heavy to carry around in) for around $250. The money would be better spent by immediately purchasing a convertible carseat (useable through the toddler years) and a reclining umbrella stroller…things they will buy in the long run anyhow. Save the $250 for the college fund!

24 06 2009
OhioMom

Your post is very one sided. I have a stroller and use it often. I LOVE IT. When we go to the zoo I can pack our lunch and all the extras I need (diapers and such) in the bottom, and my son can ride. Yes my son can walk – he is 18 months old, but he cannot walk as far as I can. You say that your toddler’s stamina is the same as yours, but in my case, I like to walk a lot more than my son and we go walking often. Also, being 8 months pregnant and trying to wear a baby bjorn would not work so well in my case.

24 06 2009
dontbuyit

Thanks for all your comments! 🙂

24 06 2009
kj

Another use for a stroller: running. I can’t run with a baby strapped to my chest or back, so unless I’m willing to find and pay a babysitter 4-5 times a week, a stroller it is.

26 06 2009
K Bellware

We have six kids 7yrs old and under and use a double stroller, a backpack carrier, and a baby front pack carrier, and have older kids walk right next to me. I love them all and don’t usually go anywhere without two of the three stroller/carriers. In this day and age, I love to know where my kids are. I do not want them running around or walking off when I have my back turned, as all little kids do at one time or another.
Also, as stated previously, little kids don’t walk as far or as long as adults can and do. I don’t want to be 2 miles away from my house on a walk and have my 3 year old get tired and have to be carried along with my 1 1/2 yr old and my 4 month old! I also do not like being pregnant and having to wear a carrier on my back, front, or sling on my side.

27 06 2009
dontbuyit

Thanks for all the comments on this tongue-partly-in-cheek post. (And anyone who has six children under age seven should be magically granted an emission free flying limousine with shape-shifting powers, if life had any justice at all.)

22 07 2009
StaciM

My parents did try to make me walk a 15 mile hike when I was a toddler. I think I made it 5-7 miles with breaks… XD (3ish miles out, 3ish miles back. I just got too tired, but made it back with lots of breaks. I was a very small, sick, and weak child though, so I’m not the best example.)

Most people can walk or bike to most places, so a stroller may be needed for a walk that is more than 5-10 miles depending on how fit the child is. With 1/4 toddlers being obese, walking is a good idea. The leashes on children are silly for most people. Sure, I can see on the subway in the city them being needed, if you have multiple children under the age of 5-7, but it makes no logical sense in a grocery store in a suburb. Chances are, your kid won’t wander off too far, and if they do, a person will see a wandering child when you have to announce to the store why your child is missing. In the case of stores where there are very fragile items, such as glass vases, I would suggest keeping some children close at hand. For severely autistic or mentally disabled children(or otherwise disabled where they might get lost and be unable to find their parents, such as being blind or deaf.), it does make sense, but so does holding the child’s hand. In the case of blind children, calling their name may work, and in the case of deaf children, a store announcement will be fine. Also, if one partner has a back problem(or in the case of the mother, having just given birth), the other partner can help with the baby. In the case of single parents, friends and neighbors I’m sure would be willing to come grocery shopping with a single parent! One of the most tragic sights I saw was at a hospital. The mother was pushing a perfectly healthy baby(the mother was epileptic. It was in a unit for seizures and we were both getting bloodwork done for medications.) in a huge stroller and was clearly struggling to get thru doors. She was told to use a stroller in case she had a seizure and could drop the baby. That does make sense, yes, but the better idea would be to have someone with you, or put the baby in a baby basket as opposed to a gigantic stroller. She had apparently never held her infant as a result of this suggestion.

Also, with most infants and children, you can leave them home napping for a 30 minute run, or have your partner keep an eye on them.

I don’t have kids myself,(as I’m a teenager) but I do often help watch my nephew who is 4 now. He’s responsible, and he’s smart, but honestly, he’s fine being left home for a short amount of time, esp if he’s napping or reading. So maybe for the average child, age 6ish is when it’s safe to be left home alone. I wouldn’t feel ok leaving him home for a bath, and his mother feels nervous for times longer than 2 hours leaving him home, but his father routinely leaves him home alone or with neighbors when they both are working. They call to check in on him, and it works just fine. They do have to return to prepare meals for him, as they don’t feel ok with him cooking on a gas range. When I was little, I lived in an area with several level 3s, so I did have a baby sitter at all times. My mum stayed home with me till I was a toddler, then she would either hire a babysitter or send me over to the neighbors(depending on which days who was working.).

23 05 2010
Physical Play: Running a 5K with a 7-Year-Old « Don't-Buy-It Family Learning Experiments

[…] didn’t bring a stroller. We wanted him to have the experience of running, and we didn’t own a stroller.) We took turns among making him run or walk and carrying him between the two adults, and we […]

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