Here is a perfect newborn stroller (and car seat) solution for newbie parents. It’ll save you money, time, and trouble and keep your baby safe and happy.
There are a lot of choices of strollers for newborns. The problem is figuring out which one works best for you. A good stroller can cost a several hundred dollars. And however much you spend, you will be using it constantly. The choices are confusing. This is your first baby and you don’t know what features you will need. At best, the wrong choice will require a return to the store, at a time when you have a screaming, unhappy baby, and both you and your spouse are exhausted from no sleep and the constant worrying of new parents. At worst, a bad choice will be costly, because you can’t return the ill-fitting stroller, and you’ll have no idea if the new choice will fit your needs.
And, for the record, you do need a stroller. Slings and Baby Bjorn harnesses are well and good for hanging out at home and the park for a short time, but you also need something (a stroller!) to hold your growing bundle of joy for the longer haul without breaking your back.
So here’s the perfect solution that will cost you about $50 in addition to equipment you will need anyway. Along the way, in explaining the solution, I’ll introduce some basic ideas that will apply to many other equipment purchases and parenting in general. Reading on will save you time, money and trouble, and help make you and your baby happier.
The simple solution is to use a portable car seat with a car seat stroller frame. Get this Graco SnugRide Infant Car Seat and this Graco SnugRide Stroller frame. That’s the simple answer, if you want to know the reasons this combination works so well, read on.
“What?!?!” I hear you say, “Shouldn’t my baby have a special stroller that he can grow into? Can a car seat be comfortable? And don’t I want a permanently attached car seat that he can grow into, just like the stroller?”
The answer is No. Yes. and No.
First-time parents make a number of mistakes (I certainly did!) that marketers are happy to exploit to get your money.
Mistake #1, “One Size Fits All” :
One size does NOT fit all. The body of an eight-pound newborn is radically different in its shape and requirements from that of a thirty pound three year old. Would you expect the same clothing to fit the both of them? Of course not. Anything that purports to work with two wide a range of ages and body types, be it a crib or a bed or a car seat or a stroller, must make so many compromises in design that it suits no-one. You might fit into clothes you wore six months ago. Your newborn won’t. Your newborn will outgrow clothes and everything else at an alarming rate. Bite the bullet and get used to it. They will outgrow everything and you’ll either throw it out or give things away to expecting friend, family, charity, or save it for their eventual younger sibling1 .
Convertible strollers, car seats, and furniture costs more too. Sure, you only have to buy it once, but it costs so much that just getting age-appropriate equipment separately. And because it costs so much, if the convertible equipment does not suit you and your baby, you’ve made a triply costly mistake.
Of course, one can take things too far. It always helps to get things that the kid can grow into. Because newborns grow constantly and rapidly, and anything that fits perfectly now will be too small in a week. In fact my recommendation for a car seat is one that fits up to twenty-two pounds and should work for at least a year.
Mistake #2, “You Don’t Need a Portable Car Seat for an Infant” :
Oh yes, you do, and that car seat will be your best friend.
Firstly, we have already discussed that you one size does not fit all and you will be getting a car seat specifically suitable for a newborn. After a year or so, your child will outgrow the car seat, and they will also want one that sits higher and is front facing.
Secondly, unless you live next door to the hospital, you will need the car seat at a minimum to get home from the hospital. Taking a newborn in a motor vehicle, be it a bus or a car or an airplane without the protection that a car seat is the grossest, most dangerous negligence. A healthy baby is tougher than you think, but they are still fragile, and no-one can withstand the force of even the mildest car crash without adequate restraint. Just ask New Jersey’s Governor Jon Corzine. This protectiveness extends beyond the vehicle. When your baby is in the car seat in his stroller frame, he is very well protected from jostling, falls and bumps.
And a portable car seat is very comfortable. It is warm and secure. You can use it as a rocker, as a bassinet for carrying or sleeping. Our first son Jack was a terrible sleeper, but he found the confinement of the car seat soothing. Since it could be easily moved around and rocked, but was still comfortable for sleeping, he wasn’t disturbed by us transferring him into his crib. When you travel, the portable car seat works great as a sleeping bassinet.
A portable car seat is safe and versatile. They come with an anchored base which can be permanently attached, and then the car seat just snapped in place securely. They can be secured in place with a simple seat-belt, which comes in handy if you are traveling in someone else’s car, or in an airplane. The Graco is attachable by the special LATCH system that come with some newer cars. I found the LATCH system to be cumbersome and confusing. Attach the car seat or its base with a regular seat belt. It’s easier and just as secure.
Having a portable car seat has an additional advantage overly a permanently attached one in that you have more versatility in getting the baby in the car seat. Getting an crying baby into a car seat can sometimes be a trial, or transferring a sleeping one around from crib to seat can make a sleeping baby into a crying baby into a sleeping baby. And who wants to be caught in the rain with a crying, squirming baby. With a portable car seat you can get the baby into the car seat at your convenience, inside or out, awake or sleeping, and then easily get the baby to the car and attach the car seat with already settled baby.
Mistake #3, “a Separate Stroller MUST be Better Than a Car Seat and a Simple Frame”:
Nope. We’ve already seen that a portable infant car seat is your best bet. So what makes a separate stroller better than the car seat and a frame?
Your baby is comfortable and safe. We’ve already established that the car seat is very safe. much safer than any stand-alone stroller. It’s meant to withstand car crashes, for goodness’ sake! And considering that it makes a great bassinet, that kids love to sleep in the car seat, we know your baby will be comfortable.
It’s a lightweight combo. Especially for Mom, the less weight is better. A portable car seat, without the base, is around eight pounds, and the frame is about twelve pounds. Making for a grand total of twenty pounds. Consider that even the lightest infant stroller is about 27 pounds and that they can easily go up to fifty pounds or more. Less is more. And it is due to the light weight that we go with a simple frame, rather than the fancier stroller that can also attach a car seat. If the kid is comfortable already in the car seat, why attach it to a heavier stroller with a seat you won’t use anyway? Just use the frame.
And very importantly, a lighter stroller combo is a more maneuverable one. This makes it more pleasurable to go out. And as a newborn parent, you want to be travelling light. You’ll be weighed down enough with all your diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, toys, changes of clothes. Oh, and the baby keeps on getting heavier too, but you knew that already : ) The simple frame also has the advantage of having lots of storage space under the car seat. Lighter is good. More storage space is good. Maneuverable is most important. If you can’t easily move around, what is the point of the stroller.
As the stroller frame is easily folds flat, it is easily storable.
Mistake #4, #5, #6, and #7, “But I need more stuff to care for my baby!” :
No, you don’t. Keep things simple. Your baby needs your love and care. Anything that isn’t essential is a distraction and believe me, you’ll be distracted enough plenty by your newborn baby. Who wants you to buy all this extra stuff? The people who are out to make a buck. The truth is, as long as a baby has loving, conscientious parents, they don’t need much more than the essentials of basic food, clothing, water, medicine and shelter. We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that trinkets and gadgets translate into happiness and ease. They do not. Your love and care and patience are what your baby needs most. Get the bare minimum at first. You can always get more stuff later. The vibrating, ergoplasmatic, sleepinating, with blinking LED somno-brand ™ lights, Boogabooboo strollerino won’t get you kid into Harvard.
In conclusion : The portable car seat and stroller frame combo should work well for you at least until the kid starts crawling around, which will be five months old at the earliest. By then you will be an old hand at parenting, and you can pick out a stroller that best fits your needs. And when you pick out that second stroller, you will have your child around to get the best fit, unlike now. And you will have a real idea of what it is to be a parent based on your hard-earned experience.
But until then, trust me and get the portable car seat and stroller frame. Rookie : )