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Thursday
Jul312008

You can't bring your SUV on the bus

A few posts back, I mentioned in passing that I don't really use a stroller. The truth is, we own 3 strollers.

Stroller #1:The first one we bought when our son was about 6 weeks old because we needed somewhere safe, warm and dry for him to sleep while we played Ultimate frisbee on cool autumn Sunday afternoons. It is a Zooper stroller and is bulky enough that it takes up most of the trunk of the car if I try to take it anywhere with me, but it isn't nearly as big as the SUV strollers that so many people have these days. At the time, I bought it because it was the only jogging stroller I could find that you could also put an infant in (now, there are the SUV strollers, with infant harnesses). We used it for our ultimate games, we sometimes begrudgingly took it to the mall if we needed to carry a lot of bags, and my mom uses it to take the kids for walks when she is babysitting.

Stroller #2: Almost a year later, I bought a cheap umbrella stroller. We we were taking a trip and I wanted a small stroller to bring with us because I was going to be at a conference during the day and wanted the boys to be able to go for nice walks while I was busy facilitating. But what I didn't realize at the time was that both my husband and I, who are both over 6 feet tall, would have to bend over to push this stroller. Not exactly good for your back.

Stroller #3: About 6 months after that, we were getting ready to tour Europe with a 33 pound toddler. He was walking, of course, but wasn't really up to doing all day tours of European cities on foot. And while we brought along a backpack for hiking, neither of us wanted to carry all 33 pounds of him all day long every day either. So we bought a compact, but sturdy stroller to take on our travels and we got a fair bit of use out of it over the course of the rest of the summer at home too.

Fast forward to the next spring when our daughter was born. Within an hour of being born, she was in my Maman Kangourou ring sling. She is now 16 months old and about 22 pounds and I can probably count on my two hands the number of times I've put her in a stroller and the majority of those were for a mom and baby fitness class.

So why don't I use the stroller?

  • I prefer to wear her. Especially when she was small, but even now, I would rather have my baby close to me and touching me, than have her down low in a stroller. I think having her touching me and her face close to my face helps us to bond and to communicate. And it also reduces the chances of a stranger accidentally hitting her with a shopping bag or purposefully invading her space with tickles or kisses.

  • I need my trunk space for other stuff. Especially now that the back seat is taken up by two children, if I'm buying groceries, they need to go in the trunk. If we are travelling somewhere, the suitcases or duffel bags need to go in the trunk.

  • It is hard to chase a preschooler when you are pushing a stroller. The one time I did decide to take the stroller with me to the mall with the two kids, my son decided to take off down the stairs while I had my daughter in the stroller. Thankfully I was able to coax him back up the stairs, otherwise it would have been quite a spectacle with me carrying a stroller down the stairs while chasing my son. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that was the last time I used the stroller while I was alone with the kids.

  • I hate trying to push a stroller through small spaces. Stores, sidewalks, markets, buses, are all places that are not really made to accommodate strollers. I end up being extremely frustrated trying to maneuver around with a stroller, even a small one.

  • Once my kids are able to walk, I would rather have them walk. We hear so much about childhood obesity. I've blogged before about infant feeding choices and obesity, but I think that keeping kids in strollers for most outings until they go off to kindergarten is another contributing factor in childhood obesity. Our 3.5 year old son did an 11km hike with us recently and walked all but the last 1km on his own. That comes from many many days of walking and walking and walking. That and we've also learned that he needs lots of exercise in order to sleep well at night, so we keep him walking.


So those are my five reasons for choosing babywearing and walking over strollers. I had been planning to blog about this anyways at some point, but was inspired to do it today when I heard that OC Transpo is planning to ban supersized strollers (i.e. the SUVs of strollers) on buses because they take up too much space and make it difficult for other people, especially seniors, to make their way on and off the bus.

I understand why some people buy these strollers. They are great for jogging and allow moms and dads to get exercise without having to drop their kids at a babysitter. They double as a bike trailer, so that is one less contraption to buy. A lot of them can fit two kids, which is great if you have twins or children that are close in age. But despite all of that, I think it is crazy that people actually take them on buses. If you can afford one of these big bulky strollers, you can also afford to buy a smaller stroller to use for bus trips or other outings where you'll be in small spaces. Or you can get a ring sling, a wrap, or other baby carrier to wear your baby.

Seniors and people with disabilities cannot be transported in baby carriers or in umbrella strollers. They need the space on the bus for their wheelchairs and their walkers. Parents with small children that wish to ride the bus (which I applaud, by the way), should find more compact ways of transporting their kids.
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Reader Comments (12)

Those slings look nice if your baby will stay in them. I found after six months or so, my son wanted space and would actively try and get that space. We bought a Quinny Zapp - slightly larger than an umbrella stoller, but so incredibly easy to push and maneuver; even for tall people.

August 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Hi Kevin - that's it! That's the name of our Stroller #3. I was trying to remember it as I typed last night. It is a great stroller. And it is the one that I will use, if I use one. If I felt the need to take one on the bus, that is the one I would take. And we did use it with our son for a while when he was too big to carry, but too young to walk all of the time.

August 1, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

[...] would buy at the market the whole way back while at the same time keeping tabs on her big brother. I hate the stroller. I really do. But I think it was the lesser of two evils [...]

Great post! My daughter is 2 1/2 and is good at walking but we live on a very busy street and although I still wear her sometimes, I do use the stroller now more than ever before (It was pretty useless the first 2 years). She will fight against holding hands across the street and I end up having to carry her which is really awkward and involves tantrums. Do you think by age 3 most kids are more cooperative about walking?

September 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjane

@ Jane - thanks for stopping by!

I would say that my son was more cooperative about walking safely by age 3, but I don't know if it was an age thing or whether the constant reminders and teaching about the dangers of the street finally started to sink in.

We just continued to insist that he had to hold our hand. If he refused, I would take him aside away from the street and explain again why he had to hold my hand. If he still refused, I probably would have carried him across the street and then explained it again.

There are a lot of things where I let my kids take the lead and empower them to make their own decisions, but things related to safety, like sitting in your car seat in the car, using a helmet on a bike, being careful crossing the street (holding hands and/or looking both ways depending on age), wearing a lifejacket in a boat, etc. are non-negotiable. I have a very no-nonsense attitude when it comes to those things.

There have been tantrums, but I just chalk that up to part of the learning process. I'd rather deal with a tantrum here and there and have him walk than put him in the stroller indefinetly and put off having the road safety messages sink in.

September 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I know you posted this awhile ago, but I only happened upon your website recently and I am working my way through your archives. Good stuff, by the way.

Anyways, our son is only a few months old and we don't have a stroller either. Actually, here in Japan, the vast majority of people don't, they are just too awkward on public transportation.

I love the fact that most babies are worn here, or if they are able to they are walking. The only difference, once kids are of walking age here, they usually are also carrying their own little backpack for toys, drinks and snacks that they need or want. Sure does free up moms hands!

June 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle

I am on both sides of the fence. We went to Germany with nothing but our 15 month old daughter and our Ergo. Now at barely 3, she walks pushing her doll stroller while I carry my 20 pound 5 month old son in the Beco.

But, we live in Chicago. If I am doing an outing at the zoo, downtown, the arboretum, etc, I NEED to bring a stroller if only just for all our stuff (diapers, change of clothes for the potty trained one, toys to keep her occupied in the train, snacks/lunch, my camera/purse, etc), and it is great for nap space for her too. I have a Phil and Ted sport with doubles seat that I love, and that folds down pretty flat and is relatively light, but I still can't get both kids, the stuff, and the stroller on and off the train by myself.

I get super thrilled when things are accommodating to strollers, while still recognizing that it is way easier to babywear.

So that's my wishy washy stroller manifesto. :)

July 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

[...] I still believe in the value of wraps. If you are a committed babywearer and plan to wear one or more children a lot for a long time, a good woven wrap is worth the investment. Almost everyone puts down a good chunk of change for a decent stroller. I’d rather spend the money on a decent woven wrap like a Storchenwiege, Hoppediz and Didymos and buy a cheap stroller. But I’m not much of a stroller person. [...]

I too am late to the party because I've just discovered your blog (which I am finding endlessly interesting while I am nursing the babe).

The thing that struck me about your comments about strollers on buses was this:

"Seniors and people with disabilities cannot be transported in baby carriers or in umbrella strollers. They need the space on the bus for their wheelchairs and their walkers. Parents with small children that wish to ride the bus (which I applaud, by the way), should find more compact ways of transporting their kids."

I am a person with a disability AND a parent with a small child, who sometimes wants to ride the bus. I cannot carry my son in his wrap for long distances, so I have to use a stroller most of the time. I am also unsteady on my feet so the stroller is as much a walking aid for me as it is a conveyance for him - that's why we chose a four-wheeled, substantial stroller. One of those umbrella strollers would collapse the first time I needed to put any weight on it.

No intent to pick, since I know I'm way in the minority here and most of the SUV size strollers are being pushed by able-bodied moms, but just wanted to add a perspective that your readers might not have considered.

November 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenternatalieushka

@natalieushka: If you use the stroller as a walking aid or other disability support then it should ABSOLUTELY be allowed from that perspective. If most people were reasonable about when they need/don't need these large strollers then I don't think it would be unreasonable to say that anyone can bring one when they need to (e.g. doing a big shopping trip). But when everyone uses them all the time, that is when it becomes a problem.

November 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I baby-wore (and still do actually) my first child most of the time while out and about, but with number two due in 12 weeks, I am not sure what my new arrangements will be. I am fairly sure I'll have to have at least one of them in a stroller and one in a sling, as my eldest will only be 20 months when bub is born and cannot at all be relied on to stay close to me/not run into the road etc. My other option is bubby in a sling, toddler on a harness, but that may be a whole other kettle of fish :)

November 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

[...] uneasy about choosing. In particular, the two things that I found most difficult to choose were a stroller (we didn’t end up buying one until after he was born) and a breast pump. None of the [...]

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