Strollers, strollers, everywhere, and if you look closely you might spot the ten pound baby nestled at the heart of each.
Before I had a baby, I always wondered why women need something the size of a shopping cart to transport a bundle the size of a loaf of bread.
Even more baffling to me were the women who choose to lug their babies around by a car seat handle. When I was in grade eleven, I was given an eight pound “baby think-it-over”, which required tending through day and night. The baby (who I dubbed Jan Sebastian and grew deeply attached to, to the dismay of my Family Studies instructor) also came with a plastic car seat.
Tucked in my arms, Jan Sebastian didn’t weigh much and was easy enough to transport. But when I tried to carry him in that plastic seat, my shoulder started to ache.
It made me wonder what I was missing – why do so many women subject themselves to this?
When I got pregnant, I started looking into other ways to transport infants. I found studies claiming that babies that are carried cry less and are less likely to suffer from “flat head syndrome”. That really made me decide to “babywear”.
My books and the internet also told me that in many parts of the world, this is the norm, rather than strollers. In fact, attempts to introduce strollers to Kenya have gone very poorly.
But in Canada, as in much of the Westernized world, car seats and strollers are central in the parenting culture. It’s right up there with the diaper bag and the crib for baby necessities. So a lot of people tried to explain to me that babywearing might be great for attachment and such but I’d still want to have that stroller, and a portable infant seat as well, for the convenience of it.
How many of us swore “I’ll never do that when I’M a parent” only to find themselves eating their words a few years down the road?
So I listened to the advice of experienced mothers who tried to explain the near-necessity of strollers and portable car seats.
“Infant seats are so handy for when you go to restaurants. Where would you put the baby when you wanted to sit down and eat?”
“Strollers are handy when you’re shopping, because you can put the diaper bag and your shopping bags in it, too.”
“Babies fall asleep in the car. You’d have to wake him up to put him in a carrier all the time, and trust me, you will VALUE your baby’s sleep.”
The arguments swayed me. I gratefully accepted a hand-me-down stroller and a hand-me-down infant seat. I also got a Sleepy Wrap from a friend. This way, I was able to try everything to see what worked for me.
Well, I discovered that everyone was at least partially right.
The baby car seat that snaps in and out WAS handy when we wanted to bring Owl without waking him…
…but since he mostly screamed in the car, that was rare.
Finding a place to put the baby would have definitely been an issue in restaurants…
…but since he mostly just screamed all the time unless he was tucked in his Sleepy Wrap, I just got used to dripping food on my baby’s head.
Carrying bags AND a baby was awkward at times…
…but not as awkward as that stroller.
When you’re a mother, it all comes down to convenience.
Ultimately, I just found that popping my baby in and out of a carrier was so much easier than using a stroller or toting a car seat.
I did become a babywearer, not because of flat-head syndrome or desire to stimulate my attachment to my child but because of convenience. I took to calling my carrier “Baby Bluetooth” because it made my baby hands-free.
Funny enough, I did find the portable infant seat useful, even if it didn’t leave the car very often. On those rare occasions when he did fall asleep on the way home, it was invaluable. I would get one again, with my next child.
But a stroller? No way.
I gave away the stroller after trying it once and getting thoroughly fed up. My hands weren’t free, because they were pushing the stroller. Going up hills was a pain in the butt, because the stroller was heavier than the baby alone. Going around corners in small shops? Forget about it.
Owl is a toddler now and prefers to walk. My husband and I did pick up a cheap umbrella stroller, and have attempted to use it on occasion but even now that he weighs nearly 23 pounds, I still find it easier to carry him. I use an Ergo, which is sturdier for an older child, and it’s still a matter of convenience.
Two of my friends have had babies since I had my Owl. The Farm Fairy made her own slings and uses her Ergo often. The other is a regular user of car seats and strollers. She has tried several carriers, including my Ergo, and found that it didn’t work for her.
That’s fine – like I said, it’s all about convenience and what works best for you.
But when I see all of those mothers trying to navigate the coffee shop in a stroller traffic jam, I can’t help but wonder where the convenience lies for them.
Are strollers or carriers more normal in your part of the world? Which worked best for you?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our baby-wearing mother of one in Canada, Carol @IfByYes.
The photograph used in this post is credited to Kevin Poh. It carries a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.