One of the things I feel most embarrassed about admitting publicly is that I'm not getting a stroller. I'm certain that even by just thinking about it every single mum in a five kilometre radius will shake her head and laugh at my naivety. Strollers must be one of the top five must-have items for new parents, along with car seats, cribs and diapers: if you're getting a baby, you're getting a stroller and the only doubt you might have is "which one?".
Despite being touted as an essential item, my resolve is firm. I just don't believe a stroller is the best fit for me or my baby. Here are my reasons:
1) I think the baby will be happier in arms. This is something I've read in parenting books, blogs and heard anecdotally from the most varied sources. A carried baby = a happier baby.
2) Even people with strollers often use it to carry their stuff and hold the baby. I started noticing this shortly after I became pregnant. In all sorts of situations babies are being carried by mum or dad, whereas the stroller carries everything else. If I can eliminate the "everything else", the need for the stroller disappears.
3) Being carried is good for the baby in so many ways: being in a vertical position prevents flat-head syndrome and reflux, it encourages the development of the baby's musculature, the baby is able to participate in the parent's daily life, mum (or dad) is close by and can respond quickly to any needs...the list goes on.
4) Carrying baby is good for mum (and dad): from the psychological benefits of proximity to your baby to aiding the parent's muscle development it seems like carrying a baby might also equal a happier mum (and dad).
5) I have a tiny apartment. If I did purchase a stroller I have no idea where I would store it. It would either have to live out on the balcony or in the hallway, getting either in to our or the neighbours' way.
6) My area is not pedestrian-friendly. If I lived in a place where walking to the shops was actually an option, I might give the stroller purchase some more thought. However, due to safety issues and distance, every errand I run involves the car and I feel that lugging a big stroller in and out of the trunk is much more difficult than simply picking baby up out of the car seat.
7) Carrying a baby generally seems simpler. Just like tasks will take as long as you have time for them, extra space (in this case the basket under the stroller) fills up with clutter. I've seen both parents with strollers and with babies in arms at the airport and the latter group always looks decidedly more relaxed, especially at security. Whereas the stroller family is removing bags and possession from the stroller and trying to find the button to fold it up while precariously balancing the baby in one arm as the other is full of additional hand luggage, the carrying family swoops through the check-point with baby safely ensconced in a sling and at most one extra diaper bag. That's the kind of simplicity and efficiency I yearn for.
Pleasant side effects of my radical stroller decision have been the time saved having to research the best possible stroller/car seat/travel system and of course money. Although the different carrying options (sling, wrap, etc.) also come at a price I haven't seen anything as shockingly expenses as most strollers on the market.
I also have had one good obstetrician friend back me up, saying that he tells all his pregnant ladies to spend the stroller money on something else. With that endorsement, perhaps it’s time to stop hiding and own up to my decision: my name is Julie, and (for the time being) I'm a stroller-free mummy.
Some of my favourite links on carrying/wearing babies from:
La Leche League