Updated on April 30, 2016
The Monarch Mommy’s Ultimate Baby Registry Series – Part 4: Getting Around
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Are you ready to get out of the house with your baby? No? Neither was I. That’s where my Ultimate Baby Registry Series Part 4 comes in! If you’re just joining me for the first time, you can get caught up on the first three parts of this series here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Though it may seem like a completely impossible task in those first few days postpartum, at some point you’re going to want to leave the house with your baby. Okay, maybe you won’t always want to leave the house, but despite having a baby at some point life must go on just a little bit. In order to make leaving the house with your baby not only easier, but just plain possible, there are a few things you’re going to need. Let’s get right to it.
Car seat (need): A car seat is a must have item, unless you don’t have a car and never plan to borrow one or rent one. You can go with an infant bucket seat, or jump straight into a convertible car seat. The main thing about the infant bucket seat is that it clicks into a base in the car. That means you can get baby strapped into it in the house and then take them out to the car. When you get to your destination and baby is asleep, you can just take the bucket seat out of the car and click it onto your stroller (with an adapter) and carry on without waking baby. Many bucket seats last until the baby is 30-35lbs, though almost all children will outgrow the bucket seat by height long before they ever hit the weight limit. Once they hit the height OR weight limit, they need to be put in a convertible seat. I talk more about why I recommend starting with a bucket seat rather than a convertible seat HERE.
If you would prefer to start with a convertible seat right off the bat, that’s fine too! A convertible seat, unlike an infant bucket seat, remains in the vehicle once it’s been installed. It does not come in and out of the car without being fully uninstalled, and it does not click into a base in the vehicle or onto any stroller. Although most convertible seats say they fit babies from birth (or 5 lbs), not all convertibles actually fit a newborn baby well or safely. One of the biggest factors is the harness height. When a child is rear facing (which is required for at least the first year/22lbs/walking unassisted and is recommended to age two and beyond), the harness straps MUST come out of the car seat back AT or JUST BELOW the child’s shoulders. Some convertible seats on the market simply do not have a low enough harness position for newborn babies. If you’re not sure, you can consult a Child Passenger Safety Technician in your area, and check out this list from the Vancouver Island Car Seat Techs as a starting point.
Carrier/wrap (need): Baby wearing is not only a great way to get around with your baby, but it also leaves you hands free to just get stuff done. Although there are many types of carriers available, I’d suggest starting out with a soft structured carrier and a stretchy wrap. What you’re looking for in a soft structured carrier (SSC) is one that provides adequate ergonomic support of baby’s hips. That would be one that supports baby’s legs in an “M” position (knees up higher than the bum). Personally, I would avoid what some call a “crotch dangler” or a forward facing SSC that doesn’t provide adequate hip support for the child making it uncomfortable for them and also uncomfortable for you (they tend not to have much back support for the wearer). Although these types of carriers do not cause hip dysplasia, they can exacerbate hip issues in children who do have hip dysplasia or are at risk of developing hip dysplasia. There are some excellent ergonomic baby carriers on the market now that provide proper support for a forward facing baby, so if that’s something you’re interested in, you should check them out. It’s good to note that most of those carriers outline a minimum age requirement for front facing (usually around 6 months) and suggest wearing baby that way for only short periods of time (for a few reasons, but that’s for another post!). If you’d like to know more about the SSC that I’ve been using (and loving) with Petit Prince, you can read my review of it HERE. If you are looking for a good selection of SSC baby carriers, Lagoon Baby has lots to choose from including Tula, LILLEBaby, ErgoBaby, LennyLamb, Beco, Boba, and Chimparoo.
A stretchy wrap carrier is also great for the very early days. Technically they can be used beyond the newborn stage, but in reality they really don’t perform well once baby exceeds 15lbs. Nevertheless, there’s something wonderful about wrapping baby up nice and close to you, so I would definitely have a stretchy wrap on hand. I really liked the Moby Wrap, and though it’s a lot of fabric to get used to, it is really great for newborns.
Stroller (need): There are so many options for strollers out there! You really want to think about how you’re going to be using your stroller. Are you going to be on paved sidewalks or indoors most of the time? Will you be using it in small spaces? Are you going to want to use it in the snow or on dirt paths? You also need to consider how the stroller folds up. Will it fit in your vehicle when folded? Is it easy to fold? Can you lift it into the back of your vehicle? My advice would be not to go with a “jack of all trades” stroller. A stroller that claims to do it ALL (and by that I mean off roading, jogging, paved sidewalks/indoors, traveling, etc) may not do any one of those things particularly well. Think about how you will be using the stroller most often and go with one that does that really well. I have the Stokke Xplory and really love it. You’ll want to shop for your stroller and car seat together because you’ll want your stroller to have an available adapter that fits your car seat (you can read all about making your own “travel system” HERE). Consider whether the stroller seat reclines enough to be used from birth. Some strollers require that you purchase a separate bassinet attachment or that you use the infant bucket seat until the child is 6 months old. There are jogging strollers available, but you can’t actually jog with baby until at least 6 months old, and they are a beast in the mall/grocery store. If you think you’d like to try jogging with baby (once he’s old enough), wait until your child is 6 months to even buy one. For starters, they take up a ton of room in your home, so you may as well put off storing it until you’re actually ready to use it. Second, once your baby is old enough to be in the jogging stroller while you’re jogging, you may prefer to spend your jogging time away from your baby (this may be hard to believe if you’re still pregnant or just gave birth in the last six weeks). Third, I’m just going to come right out and say it… Kijiji/Craigslist is littered with jogging strollers (many STILL IN THE BOX) that were bought by moms who were so sure they were going to take up running after their baby was born and then just didn’t (for whatever reason). If you think running is hard, try running while pushing a big stroller with around 20lbs of baby in it. So if your baby hits 6 months old and you still absolutely want to get back to running with your baby, check the buy sell trade pages for a steal on a jogging stroller. For non-jogging strollers, the Bugaboo Cameleon and UPPAbaby Vista are both quite popular.
Car seat adapter for stroller (need): If you want to be able to connect your infant bucket seat to your stroller base, you may need a car seat adapter for it. This will, of course, depend on which car seat and which stroller you’ve purchased, but you can easily find out which car seats require an adapter with your stroller by checking out the stroller manufacturer’s website.
Car seat canopy (nice to have): It’s just a cover that attaches to the car seat handle and drapes over the car seat. Super handy for blocking out rain, snow, sun, and strangers’ fingers. Something like this one works well. Remember that anything that goes between baby and the car seat is NOT safe to use, so don’t bother purchasing any car seat bunting bags or items to “dress up” the car seat.
And that’s what you need to get around with baby! Stay tuned for the fifth instalment of The Monarch Mommy’s Ultimate Baby Registry Series coming next week! I’ll be talking about play time, accessories, and some odds and ends to wrap up the series!
Were there any baby gear items that you found particularly useful for getting around with baby? Is there something on this list that you’d skip?
In case you missed it:
The Monarch Mommy’s Ultimate Registry Series Part 1
The Monarch Mommy’s Ultimate Baby Registry Series Part 2
The Monarch Mommy’s Ultimate Baby Registry Series Part 3
The Monarch Mommy’s Ultimate Baby Registry Series Part 5
The New Mom’s Survival Kit