Europe with infants and toddlers: Carriers vs. strollers
When we arrived in Germany, our children were seven- and 22-months-old. In the midst of my excitement, I was a bundle of nerves. All the uncertainty caused me to lose even more sleep than I already was with an infant. People do it all the time, but somehow it seems different when it’s you, right?
We have had our fair share of experiences up to this point. Hopefully, the lessons from our blunders will assist you in a smoother transition to the European lifestyle. Over the course of this series I will provide tips and tricks for how to experience Europe with infants and toddlers – whether you have one or three.
I initially struggled with determining the best way to lug the kids around. We were in the throes of fall festival season when we got here, so we had a chance to test all our options. Which one you use is truly a personal preference; you will hear arguments for both sides, and they all have valid points. Here are some things you may want to take into consideration before making your choice:
If you’re going to a bazaar or festival, especially in an area where you’ve never been, a carrier is the more ideal choice. Some locations don’t have even terrain. I’ve seen many struggle to get strollers over cobblestone walks. Strollers do afford a place to put your purchases or diaper bag; however, I recommend a cross-body market bag as an alternative. This may also help keep you within budget (tell your spouse I said “you’re welcome”). Even if you know the road or walkway is fairly even, these events are often very crowded with little room for you to walk – let alone maneuver a stroller. With a stroller, we could not get close enough to see what some vendors had to offer, so we had to take turns – one of us stayed out of the way with the stroller while the other (usually me) shopped.
We didn’t use carriers as often in the States. I used a wrap carrier for the younger, especially when he was nursing, to make it easier to do things with or for my older one. On our first day-trip using the carriers, we were extremely pleased with our decision; however, we stumbled upon two opportunities for improvement.
First, it can be challenging for you and your child to stay warm in winter. I had already purchased a cover for our youngest, and it seemed to work – for the most part. He was warm, but I needed a heavier coat, which would’ve been uncomfortable under the carrier. Wearing a heavier coat over the carrier still left me feeling exposed to the cold and wind. Babywearing coats help keep you both protected against the elements, but they can get expensive. If you’re handy with a sewing machine (and frugal like me), there are many ideas on Pinterest for how to make an insert and/or modify a coat to accommodate your kiddo.
Insert zips into my vest or coat Modified Dad's vest to allow for carrier
Second, we didn’t account for the carrier being adequate for a nap for our older one. When she fell asleep on my husband’s back, her head had no support. I had to hold her head as we walked through the square in Heidelberg. Therefore, I set out to find new carriers that had head support for toddlers. It was tougher than I thought, but the six-position, 360° carrier by LILLEbaby had just what I was looking for.
She doesn't look comfortable
When we take walks around our village, a stroller is perfect. Sidewalks are mostly stroller friendly, and there aren’t any crowds to fight through. If I am going to the market, I can put my purchases in the undercarriage (excluding the pretzel I usually eat on the way home).
One hiccup you may experience, however, is stairs at the entrance of stores and restaurants. Thankfully, I have found many store owners or other patrons very helpful in overcoming this issue.
If you’re looking for a new stroller, it would be wise to invest in a stroller that has large, sturdy wheels like those found on a jogging stroller. If you have two to push around, be careful of double-wide strollers, as opposed to tandem strollers. Fitting through doorways may be impossible, and maneuvering through a crowd is even more of a challenge.
Either way you go, I hope you enjoy your trip and all there is to experience.
If there are any additional suggestions or topics you would like to see included, email us at contentteam[at]stripes[dot]com with the subject “Two under two.”