With all of the essential newborn products that have to be purchased before you welcome your baby to the world, it’s a good idea to find out what you’ll actually need when your baby arrives. With the steep price tag that comes with some baby products, many new moms raise the question “do I really need a stroller for my newborn?”.
While I’m tempted to jump to the “yes, absolutely!!!” response, I recognize that my lifestyle is the reason for that hasty affirmation.
Will your situation be the same? Let’s find out!
Is a Stroller Necessary?
Let’s start off by getting straight to the point:
Is a stroller an absolute necessity when you have a newborn? No.
Do you need some way to transport your baby from A to B? Yes.
Is a stroller a very useful product for transporting your little one (plus a diaper bag and other baby accessories) for those who plan on getting out and about on foot with their baby? Without a doubt, yes.
Do I think the majority of families would benefit from having a stroller? Yes.
While a stroller is not necessary for every family, it is beneficial to many as it offers parents the flexibility to go out with their infant safely and comfortably while toting around many other items in the storage compartment of the stroller.
For many families, this is a worthwhile purchase to make and a beneficial baby item to own.
So why wouldn’t someone want a stroller?
The disadvantages of buying/owning a stroller may outweigh the benefits for some families so they decide that this particular item is not a necessity for them.
To decide for yourself whether your family will benefit from having a stroller, you’ll need to look at the advantages and disadvantages of them, what stroller alternatives are available, and in which situations is having a stroller important for you.
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Advantages of a Baby Stroller
There is a long list of advantages of a baby stroller not only for parents but for the baby as well. Not all stroller models will offer the same features and benefits, so you’ll have to do some research to find the best stroller for your family.
Here are some benefits of having a stroller:
- A convenient way to get out of the house with your baby
- Less weight to carry means less stress on your back
- The storage area helps to carry baby items (and more)
- Provides parents with peace of mind knowing their baby is safely strapped into their seat when out in crowds or traffic
- Strollers are quite durable and long-lasting
- Most are adaptable for different ages/stages
- A fun way to get exercise with your baby
- A safe and comfortable way to bring your baby out into the world
- Gives the baby protection from the elements (rain, snow, wind, and sun)
- A place for babies to entertain themselves with toys or even snacks as they get older
- Reclines for easy naps on the go, allowing parents more freedom to get out during nap time without sacrificing the baby’s sleep schedule
Disadvantages of a Baby Stroller
While there are many advantages for many families to have one, we can’t ignore the disadvantages of a baby stroller when contemplating whether you really need a stroller for your newborn. This list will be very useful to those who are still on the fence about getting one and perhaps haven’t thought of the possible negative aspects of buying a stroller.
Disadvantages of getting a stroller:
- Can be a very expensive purchase, some cost well over $1000
- Requires a good amount of space to store at home, especially for full-size strollers or travel systems
- Can be challenging to manoeuvre in tight spaces or on/off public transport
- Some can be heavy to lift in and out of the car or up/down stairs
- Only recommended for babies up until they are 3 or 4 years old (limited lifespan for the stroller)
- Not all strollers are suitable for newborns to use so you have to find one that is
- Some babies prefer to be carried by their parent
- May not foster the same type of parent-baby connection as baby-wearing does
- Some toddlers or kids may get bored sitting and not getting out to walk
- Limited visibility for the baby when they are reclined or rear facing
- It is not recommended to keep a baby in a stroller for an extended period of time
- Young kids need to be active
Related Article: Baby Stroller Pros and Cons – Are Strollers Good for Babies?
No Stroller Parenting
Whatever their reason, many families choose the no stroller parenting route.
Some choose to follow this lifestyle because they believe that the benefits of baby-wearing are more beneficial or perhaps more convenient during their outings than using a stroller.
Not only do parents enjoy bonding with their babies this way, but babies often respond positively to it as well. The comfort of being close to their parent makes them feel safe and some say it even reduces crying in babies.
Another reason to commit to no stroller parenting is if they often go to places where strollers either don’t fit, aren’t permitted or are difficult to bring. In this case, a baby carrier would be the easier way to go.
Others simply don’t have the money to spend on a stroller or the space at home that’s needed to fit a full-size stroller that can be used with a newborn baby.
If you’re still asking yourself if you really need a stroller for your newborn then you can always try out stroller-free parenting. If it’s not right for you then you go out and buy a stroller when the time is right.
Try a few different stroller models in person before deciding on the one that’s best for your family.
What Can You Use Instead of a Stroller? – Stroller Alternatives
If you’re tossing around the idea of living without a stroller, you should know what sort of stroller alternatives are out there. Consider what you can use instead of a stroller for a newborn as well as for older babies or toddlers.
Stroller Alternatives for Newborns
A baby carrier is like a fabric backpack you wear to hold a baby against your chest. Many baby carrier designs these days allow you to wear your baby on the front or the back (once they reach a certain size/age). You need to make sure the baby carrier you select is suitable from birth as not all are. For some types, you need to buy an additional newborn insert in order to use the baby carrier from birth.
A baby wrap is a long strip of soft fabric that you wrap around yourself to hold the baby closely pressed against your body, either on the front, back, or side, depending on the fabric distribution and tie that you use. This is a great way to carry your newborn as long as you know what holds or wrap techniques can safely be used for your tiny baby.
A baby sling is a wide folded piece of fabric that holds the baby laying, or seated when they’re older, cradled in the folded pouch section of the sling. There is a wide variety of infant slings so be sure to check whether the type you are using is suitable for newborns.
Stroller Alternatives for Older Babies or Toddlers
A baby backpack is a hard-framed baby carrier with padded and adjustable waist and shoulder straps to wear the child on your back. They are often used for walks or hiking with an older baby or toddler.
Hip Seat Carrier
Hip seat carriers are firm wedge-type seats that strap around an adult’s waist to comfortably hold an older baby or toddler in a supported sitting position on either side or front.
A shoulder carrier isn’t frequently seen but it is a baby carrier that supports an older baby or toddler on an adult’s shoulders in a rigid harness structure.
A wagon can be used to pull toddlers or young children around but shouldn’t be used with babies unless it has appropriate built-in safety belts.
Scooters are a fun way for toddlers or young kids to get around. There are even scooters available with a seat and parent-controller push bar when you feel you need to get the steering under control.
Similar to the push scooter, push tricycles can be a fun way for toddlers or young kids to get around on longer outings when they don’t want to walk with the comfort of parents pushing from the push bar.
While I’m not totally convinced of this one just yet, I suppose it could be an option for some! Piggyback riders are an interesting new design which allows toddlers and young children to ride in a standing backpack position with a harness to keep them safely in position.
How to Use a Stroller for a Newborn
Not all strollers are suitable for newborns. You can’t just go out and buy any stroller for your baby’s arrival.
Does that come as a surprise to you?
Some stroller models are designed for older babies who can safely sit in an upright position, a milestone that usually doesn’t happen until the baby reaches 5-7 months of age.
There are three different ways that you can use strollers for a newborn: with a bassinet or fully reclined newborn-appropriate seat that allows them to lay almost flat, with a car seat, or with a newborn insert that provides adequate support to their body and head.
Strollers for Newborns With a Car Seat
Baby travel systems are full-size strollers that can be used as a regular stroller or with a car seat clicked into place, allowing parents to move their infants from the car to the stroller with ease. This is a great option while babies are still in the newborn stage as the car seat is a safe place for them to travel.
Many popular stroller brands even have car seat adapters available to purchase so that you can fit a car seat from a different brand into the frame of their stroller. Double-check that the adapter is in fact compatible with your stroller model and car seat model before you purchase.
Just remember that babies shouldn’t be kept in their car seats for more than two hours, so you’ll have to keep that in mind as you go from place to place.
Strollers for Newborns With a Newborn Insert
I get it. You want to get a full-size stroller but the toddler seat that comes with the stroller can’t be used for small babies, often until they reach 3 months of age. Do you have to get a different travel system or just wear your baby in a wrap until they reach that age?
Not necessarily! Some strollers have the option to purchase a separate infant insert to make the stroller suitable for babies right from birth, without the use of a car seat or bassinet. With a soft padded base and extra support for the head, an insert is a great accessory for your newborn to get out in the stroller before they reach the required age to use the toddler seat.
Strollers for Newborns With a Bassinet
If the stroller is a baby pram style or comes with a bassinet attachment, you can likely use that to get out with your newborn. Laying flat is an ideal position for a newborn baby and the perfect solution to getting out early on.
As bassinets have a limited time that they can be used safely for a baby (up to 3-6 months old), you’ll want to think about whether it’s worth it for you to invest in a bassinet attachment or a bassinet-style stroller. If you don’t think you’ll be using it enough to get your money’s worth, it may be worth looking into a stroller model with a car seat adaptor or newborn insert.
When to Buy a Stroller for Your Baby
If you know you want a stroller for your baby, the best time to buy one is before they are born. Get out to the shops while you have energy in the second trimester to test out some of the strollers that you are considering.
Even if you want to add it to your baby shower gift registry, trying out strollers beforehand is a good way to know you’re choosing the right one.
And being ready beforehand is better than dealing with crowded shops while also figuring out the postpartum period and getting to know your brand-new baby. That’s a lot to take on!
Try to keep the weeks after you have your baby focused on your own recovery and the development of your precious infant.
With that said, if you’re still on the fence about buying a stroller or not then wait! Don’t worry about getting one before your baby arrives. Once everything has settled after the baby’s birth, around a month or two in, you can start to think about what you’re looking for in a stroller (if you do in fact decide to get one).
If you’re feeling doubtful about the purchase, you may appreciate experiencing even a little bit of stroller-free life with the option of buying one at a later time. This could make your decision easier!
At What Age Do You Need a Stroller
The best time to get a stroller is before the baby is born so that you have something available to use when they arrive. If you don’t have a stroller that is suitable for a newborn then it’s best to wait until they are 3-6 months old so that they have enough neck and body strength to use a regular reclined stroller seat.
At around 6 months of age, your baby will be starting to sit on their own and will no longer require a reclined stroller seat. They will become quite eager to explore the world around them and may enjoy playing with new toys from the comfort of their stroller. Or they may just sit back and enjoy the ride, taking in their surroundings.
Stroller Age Limit
While most strollers brands don’t have a specific stroller age limit and will allow a larger child to ride (usually up to 50 lbs or 22.7 kgs), it is recommended to start transitioning your child out of the stroller at around 3 years of age so that they no longer need one when they are around 4 or 5 years old.
Some reasons to limit stroller usage with a child at this age are that young children need to be physically active and not be seated in the same position for too long. It’s also good for them to learn how to walk to different places safely, be that in close proximity to a parent or holding their hand.
Sometimes the convenience of a stroller makes delaying this transition seem more appealing for busy parents but it’s important to consider the benefits that walking and physical activity can have for your child.
It’s also important for your little one to learn the rules of their environment when walking and have the opportunity to explore their world freely when safe to do so.
There may be times when a stroller is a necessary piece of equipment for your family, even if that’s sometimes past the recommended age. As long as you are limiting the time spent in the stroller and making sure your child gets plenty of physical activity, it can be a useful vehicle to get your family where you need to be.
Everyday Uses for a Stroller
Trips to the store, walks to the park, and toting my baby to pick up his big siblings from school are just some of the everyday uses for a stroller in my family. There are so many places where a stroller can come in handy.
Others may need a stroller to get their baby to-and-from daycare, go out for a coffee date, or even just run errands each day. Getting to the beach, browsing in the library, or getting out for a jog are other ways people use their strollers.
While some may be tempted to bring their stroller everywhere, the daily activities you’ll want to do with a stroller may depend on the baby’s age (will they nap on the go?), what else you need to bring (how much can you store down below?), and what sort of terrain you’ll need to navigate (think about stairs or tough-to-drive ground like a sandy beach).
Strollers for Multiple Kids
I can’t count how many times my stroller has carried around all three of my kids… at the same time! Strollers for multiple kids are seriously life-changing in that they make getting around so much easier when keeping all three on board is important.
Whether I was rushing somewhere or needed to cross a busy street, the stroller made me feel confident in going out anywhere with all three kids. The baby was in the main seat, the 2-year old in the additional toddler seat, and the 4-year old on a ride-along board.
If you plan on having multiple children, consider a stroller that can convert into a double stroller and can take a ride-along board for one more!
Final Stroller Thoughts
As you can tell, the stroller has been an essential item in our household since having one sweet newborn all the way to having three growing kids. We’ve used the same stroller for the past 5.5 years and even bought it from a friend who used it for her son before that!
Do I really need a stroller for my newborn, you ask? It may be a very worthwhile purchase for your family as it was for mine (and many others!) but that’s for you to decide based on your lifestyle. Perhaps you’d rather commit to no stroller parenting and find stroller alternatives that work best for your family.
Remember that you’re not locked into any one decision. If you’re not sure that a stroller is right for your family, then allow yourself the freedom to live without one with the understanding that your decision could change in the future.