We babywearers are a diverse group, like “people who wear blue jeans” are a diverse group. Since babywearing is, among other things, a mode of baby transport, most people who do it have opinions on other modes of baby transport. Including strollers.
Some people, including this guy, have gotten the impression that babywearers carry their children 24/7 and think strollers are evil child torture devices that must be spurned at any cost. (He backpeddled a bit after getting quite a few comments.) Actually, some babywearers do disapprove of strollers. Here’s a fascinating article about how some Kenyan mothers reacted to the commercial introduction of strollers. Why would anyone want such a contraption, they wonder, when it’s really no trouble to carry the children?
But certainly not all babywearers disapprove of strollers. In fact, I can think of very few babywearers who I know on the internet or in person who actually disapprove of using a stroller, and I think it’s fair to say that those who disapprove of strollers are a small minority of babywearers. For the record, I have two strollers. They’ve come to Magic City Slingers meetings with me, so this is not news to our members. 🙂
So, in summary, I’m not anti-stroller, and babywearers in general are not anti-stroller.
But still, 49 times out of 50, I choose a sling over a stroller. Slings just have the advantage for most of my life situations.
Strollers make you appreciate ramps and automatic doors. These innovations have tremendous importance for people who use wheelchairs. I am ambulatory, however, and I usually prefer a mode of baby transport that doesn’t have me going out of my way to find ramps when stairs are closer and faster.
Strollers are no good for taking a walk in the woods, and they’re not handy for going to the playground with your older children. They’re a nightmare to negotiate between the racks at most clothing stores, which is really a bummer, because I really prefer to use a stroller while shopping for clothes. I have yet to master the trick of trying on a new outfit with a baby on my back.
The infant car seat carrier that often snaps into a stroller seems like a great idea — not because the car seat is in any way easy or convenient to carry, but because you can transfer it and its sleeping contents to a stroller. Now, when that works and you’re going somewhere stroller friendly, it’s A-OK. But if you’re not going someplace stroller friendly, I humbly recommend not lugging the infant car seat just to avoid waking your baby. When I first started using a sling with my baby, he was around 3 months old and still sleeping a lot during the day. I was pleasantly surprised to find that when I transferred Prince Sleeps-A-Lot from the car seat to the sling, he would either stay asleep or go right back to sleep. Now THAT was a breakthrough moment. The car seat was HEAVY, not to mention totally awkward to carry.
Babies get tired of being in strollers a lot faster than they get tired of being in slings. I looked out my living room window a few months ago (when the weather was nice and everyone was taking walks) to see two moms, one after the other, pushing a stroller up the hill while carrying their babies with one arm. Been there, done that. Now, when I use a stroller, I have a sling in its cargo compartment, because carrying a baby with one arm makes me a cranky mommy.
Strollers are big and cumbersome … even the compact ones. My “compact” stroller is parked in the back of my minivan, where it may or may not, at any given time, be buried by other child-related paraphernalia or groceries. In contrast, I can stash a sling in any little compartment in my mom-mobile and on coat hooks or hangers throughout my house. A sling is a moment away at any given time, and it doesn’t have to have its wheels unlocked.
I almost took a stroller to the airport recently for a family trip but decided against it at the last minute. It turned out to be a good choice. I carried my baby on my back right through the security checkpoint and onto the plane. The car seat was quite enough clunky baby gear to keep up with in the airport (we use it on the plane), and a stroller wouldn’t have been helpful. I’d have had to take my son out of it, have someone else keep up with him while I folded it up and sent it through the x-ray machine, then unfold it and buckle him back into it, then repeat the whole process for checking it at the plane.
When it quits being in the upper 90’s every day and it’s time to go for a brisk walk around the neighborhood, I’ll break out the jogging stroller and be glad to have it. I’m actually looking forward to it. But for fussy-baby-soothing, negotiating the airport, trips to the library, quick ins-and-outs about town, and the other 45 out of 50 things I do that involve baby transport, I’m glad to have the option of a comfortable baby carrier.