Stroller vs. Carrier: Which Is Better?

Stroller vs. Carrier What Is Better

Some days the only way we can go about our errands with a baby is if we have the right equipment for the job. Whenever we take trips with our baby, do groceries, or get some exercise at the local park, the right baby essential will help make our trip enjoyable if not more bearable.

When shopping for baby gear, it is almost automatic for parents to purchase both a stroller and carrier. Most parents get a lot of wear from both baby gear whether they are at home or out and about. Baby carriers have an advantage over mobility and intimacy as well as social, intellectual, and emotional benefits you can only get with a carrier. Meanwhile, strollers are best for an active lifestyle, carrying multiples, and those with back problems.

Carriers let you go about your duties hands-free but take its toll on your back, torso, and shoulders. A stroller can be a hassle in crowded places but is a pleasure to have when your baby falls asleep during the trip and when the baby gets heavier. Both also have its pros and cons as well as some safety precautions you need to know. Read on for a complete guide.

What Is A Stroller?

Pram, carriage, or buggy—the baby stroller is essentially a baby bed or chair on wheels. It is made of cloth, steel, aluminum, rubber, and plastic. It can also come with a canopy to protect baby’s delicate skin from the sun.

Strollers come in a range of sizes from large terrain strollers to light umbrella strollers. Your lifestyle is a significant indicator of the type of stroller you and your baby needs. You can get a decent stroller for as little as $30 with a canopy and extra storage underneath. High-end strollers range in price from $300 to $1,200 with add-ons like a phone charging system.

Infants can use most stroller types from birth to the preschool years. Some can even carry a four or five-year-old child.

Parents of multiples can carry twins, babies, and toddlers in multi-seat strollers. Sibling strollers allow you to take both baby and an older sibling. There are also bulky duty strollers designed to withstand running, jogging, or hiking.

Types Of Strollers

  • Lightweight or Umbrella Stroller- Foldable, portable, and easy-to-install make this type of stroller a favorite when traveling. This stroller is easy to store and carry around when not in use. However, most lightweight strollers do not fully recline. Infants from 4 months onward or whenever the baby can sit up and fully support his neck can use this type of stroller.
  • Jogging or Running Stroller- Get back in shape with a stroller that can keep up with you. It also helps with a fussy baby and can even lull him to sleep. These three-wheeled strollers should come with safety features like a handbrake and wrist strap. Beware as these can get bulky and take up a lot of space in your trunk.
  • Double Stroller, Twin Stroller, or Multiple Stroller- Tandem strollers can sit infants and toddlers side by side or one in front of another. It keeps your babies safe and together. Do note that these strollers can weigh 40 pounds or even more. The width can be restricting especially in narrow spaces and smaller doors.
  • Travel System- Did the baby fall asleep on the car seat and woke up annoyed when you moved him to the stroller? In this situation, a travel system would be ideal as it is a car seat that attaches to a stroller frame. Similar to multiple strollers, the travel system is heavy and harder to push in uneven roads. You will also be restricted to the car seat that comes with the travel system, and replacements can sometimes be hard to find.

Why Use A Stroller?

When doing groceries, whether we shop for little or a lot, we almost always favor a shopping cart over a basket or shopping bag. Likewise, strollers are practical to have as even a tiny infant can get heavy when you carry him for hours. Strollers also come in handy to carry your baby bag with all of baby’s essentials when you’re out doing errands.

Parents purchase strollers for different reasons including transportation with a baby, a convenient storage when they are out and about, to enjoy some leisure time outdoors, to safely supervise the baby when you’re out for errands, to improve health of the parent through exercise, and to get the baby to sleep when every other method fails.

Strollers are great for afternoon walks, trips to the park, the mall, when exercising, and traveling. Strollers can also double as makeshift rocking chairs, high chairs, and a temporary cot. Clingy babies are a challenge to get used to the baby stroller. As the baby learns to walk, he will want to go out of the stroller and explore his surroundings more.

PROS

  • Easy-to-push
  • Pockets and underneath storage for baby’s things
  • Canopy for shade
  • Carries infant and older sibling
  • Allows you to exercise with a baby in tow
  • Convenient for leisure walks, trips abroad, and doing errands

CONS

  • Most stroller types are difficult to maneuver in rough, uneven surfaces
  • Not crowd-friendly
  • Most strollers are heavy and bulky even when folded
  • Some babies get impatient with slow motion (e.g., window shopping)
  • Your baby will want to be carried instead of sleep in the stroller when not in motion

Consider Before You Buy

  • Location- Do you live in the countryside where roads are uneven or in a bustling city with crowded sidewalks? Consider where you live and what obstacles you need to go through when using the stroller such as stairs without elevator access and large steps. 
  • Newborn-Friendly- Newborns need neck and back support that lightweight strollers don’t have. If you plan to use a stroller from birth, choose one that fully reclines so your baby can sleep on his back. 
  • Adaptability- Bang for the buck strollers last as long as the baby wants to use it. A durable stroller will last through the wear and tear of four to five years of use. All parts should be washable and easy to assemble.
  • Number of Kids- Do you plan to take multiple babies out together on errands? Do you plan to have another baby in two or three years? You can save bucks by buying a stroller for multiples or at least one you can add a seat to or an extra car seat.
  • Ease of use- It is best to test drive the model of your choice to see if you can easily maneuver it wherever you please. Does it turn easily, steer smoothly, break at will? Is it easy to push with one hand? Everyone who will use it should have a test drive as mom may find it difficult to push the stroller even when dad finds it easy.
  • Foldable- You won’t always have assistance when you need to pack up the stroller. A one-hand fold makes it convenient. It is best to try folding and carrying the stroller around before you buy.
  • Weight- Consider not just the weight of the stroller you are buying but also the weight of your growing baby, and other bags you will place in the storage compartment. A 20-pound baby, a 30-pound stroller, and bags will be a challenge through subways, busy streets, and three flights of stairs.
  • Quantity- The stroller you use with your morning jog won’t be the same type of stroller you need at the airport and on your travels. Some parents choose to buy different types of strollers to match their lifestyle needs. If only to make life more convenient for everyone, having more than one kind of stroller should be a good investment.
  • Accessories- A sunshade, a tray, musical toys to keep him occupied, a rain cover, a blanket, these are just some add-ons you may need more than just underneath storage and a canopy. Premature babies will also need a stroller that can carry equipment like a cardiac monitor.

Stroller Safety Features

  • Brakes should be easy to operate. Some stroller brakes can lock two wheels while others brake unintentionally. Make sure to test if the brakes come to a full stop. Also, the brake lever should be out of reach of the baby.
  • A five-point safety harness is a standard. Beware of some lightweight strollers that only have a three-point harness skimping on hip support. The snaps should be secure and not easy for the baby to unbuckle.
  • There should be no protruding hinges and edges that can endanger the baby.
  • A sunshade is essential to protect your baby. Some strollers only protect the baby’s head from the sun while others cover the interiors fully. Some strollers also come with waterproof rain protection, which is a must-have for places that constantly get unexpected bouts of rain.
  • The depth of the recliner is crucial when you have a young infant. Even as your baby grows and he falls asleep on the pram, a full recline will support his back during sleep.
  • For travel systems and other strollers with attachments, make sure to check that all pieces assemble easily. Check each item separately for safety features like straps.
  • Choose a stroller with a wide base for better balance. Some strollers tip over easily when you add the weight of your bags on the grip. If you use double strollers, a wider base provides the best balance when carrying babies of different weights. 
  • For side-by-side strollers, opt for one with a single footrest as your babies feet can get trapped between two footrests.
  • Choose a newer model and register your stroller at once. Beware of recalls.

What Is A Carrier?

Stroller vs. Carrier What Is Better

Modern parents are closer than ever to their babies. We want to share the intimacy and offer the baby security and comfort from babywearing. The best takeaway of carriers is that it allows you to take on tasks hands-free. It is essentially a cloth backpack for the baby that straps or buckles to your shoulders and sometimes also your torso.

Sometimes your baby will refuse being left in the stroller and wants to be carried. Carriers are great for clingy babies and also foster bonding as you do more things together even when doing chores. 

Of course, the baby gets heavier and using a carrier will no longer be ideal. Still, some parents get a lot of use from a carrier from birth to the toddler years. Some babies can’t get enough of their parents!

Carriers are also bliss to have in crowded places. You also don’t have to worry about carrying added weight on flights of stairs since carriers are virtually featherweight. However, if you have a bad back, you can get back pains from hours of use of the carrier. In hot weather, both you and the baby will feel uncomfortable using the carrier as well.

Types Of Carriers

  • Wrap, Moby wrap, or baby sling- Made of one, long piece of stretchy and breathable fabric to create a pocket for baby. Babies can wear it when they are 8 lbs to 35 lbs, which is essentially from birth to the toddler years. It is also great for breastfeeding babies when positioned right, although tying can sometimes be a challenge.
  • Ring slings or nursing slings- This baby carrier is also placed over your shoulder and around your body. The fabric is attached to metal or plastic rings which are adjustable as the baby grows. Some slings can also be worn inside the pool. The rings can press on your shoulders and should also be removed before adding to the washing machine.
  • Pouch slings or baby pouch- These carriers are easier to setup than ring slings and wrap with its no-tie, built-in pocket. The sling is also easier to wash, portable, and cheaper. However, it can be used for back wearing and can cause shoulder pains.
  • Mei Tai, Meh Dai, or Chinese carriers- This traditional style baby carrier can be worn with the baby on the back, front, or sides. It is made of rectangular fabric with four straps tied around your arms. There is a variety of Mei Tai carriers to choose from as well as materials and add-ons like hoods. It is also versatile to suit different body types.
  • Soft Structured carriers or SCC- This type of carrier features comfortable padding and an ergonomic position. It is durable and will last until your next baby with proper care. SCC carriers need to be air-dried and expensive. It can also be used front-facing only but is deemed as one of the safest carriers in today’s market. 
  • Backpack carriers or framed carriers- These carriers are practical for hiking and long walks. It offers good weight distribution but can be bulky and heavy.
  • Twin baby carriers- This is as far as carriers can go when it comes to accommodating multiples. It comes in a variety of styles including wraps, slings, and backpack carriers.

Why Use A Carrier?

Carriers resemble the closeness of a mother and baby during pregnancy. The skin-to-skin intimacy makes for content babies that feel your warmth and heartbeat. Studies show that babywearing promotes emotional security and brain development, among others. Babies who are carried or worn also cry less.

Light as they are, baby carriers are convenient to bring anywhere. However, it is important to check the quality of the baby carrier and its attachments. Be cautious of suffocation when using wraps and slings.

The correct position is for baby’s tummy faces mom’s tummy and not the chin-to-chest position. Also, be aware of back pains and shoulder pains that result from long hours of using a baby carrier.

PROS

  • Great mobility when you are in a hurry or crowded places
  • Use at home, on errands, shopping, breastfeeding time, and traveling
  • Portable and stores easily
  • Keep your baby safe with you at all times
  • Promote bonding, security, and closeness
  • Lowers the risk of PTSD
  • Minimize flat head syndrome
  • Frees hands for laundry, cooking, and other tasks that require two hands

CONS

  • Prolonged use can result in back, hip, and shoulder problems.
  • Only one child can sit in the carrier except for twin baby carriers
  • Some carriers are more prone to suffocation
  • Some slings and wraps have a steep learning curve with its different tying methods
  • Sharing a carrier with another caregiver can be difficult as some baby carriers are difficult to adjust
  • The weight can take its toll on you if you have other things to carry

Consider Before You Buy

  • Fabric- A lightweight, breathable fabric is essential in warm weather. However, the thin fabric can be less adaptable to a heavy baby. Opt for a baby carrier with fabric that is breathable and machine washable.
  • Attachments- Buckles, fasteners, and straps should be durable with no risk of accidental slippage. The fasteners should be tied securely and can’t be undone by your baby. Check for the thickness of rings and straps often for breakage and roughness.
  • Support- All types of baby carriers will rely on the strength of whoever is wearing it. The baby carrier should fit securely and comfortably for both the baby and the wearer. Focus on achieving comfortable weight distribution with unstructured baby carriers or wraps. Your baby should be close to your body not lying away from you, but able to breathe well.
  • Hoods and covers- Some carriers provide sunshade and extra cover for breastfeeding. Always be cautious of suffocation when using these covers and hoods. 
  • Backpack and pockets- Some baby carriers come with small pouches or even attachable bags to fit a diaper and other baby essentials. 
  • Inserts and adjustments- There are baby carriers that are newborn-ready while others need an infant insert as a booster to safely prop up baby. The baby should feel snug in the baby carrier for proper support and avoid sliding down or slipping to the sides.
  • Baby weight- Some baby carriers can support toddlers and preschoolers. Premature babies and infants below 8 lbs may not be comfortable in certain types of baby carriers. If you carry twins, consider the combined weight of your babies.

Stroller vs. Carrier By The Age

On most days, you will be out and about exploring the city walking for long hours. A baby carrier will get heavy so opt to buy one that is easily adjustable so you can switch babywearing with your partner. Consider a lightweight stroller or a travel system so you won’t disturb a sleeping baby.

If your travel involves long hours on rough terrains, a terrain stroller or a hiking carrier should do you well. For public transport, a carrier makes it easy to go through train stops, subways, and a tuk-tuk or a small tricycle. A baby carrier can also provide your baby with a sense of calm in a noisy and unfamiliar place.

No matter your lifestyle, you will get a lot of use from both the baby carrier and the stroller. Both baby essentials are useful at home, in the city, the country, or when traveling. Consider how, where, how long, and how often you will use the baby gear before buying.

Consider the temperament of your baby as well. Some babies refuse to stay in the stroller for long periods and would rather be worn or carried. However, baby weight can restrict how long you can use the baby carrier.

Related Questions

Stroller vs. baby carrier for travel

What you use will depend largely on your destination and itinerary. Plan to go island hopping or trekking? A three-wheeler stroller is your best bet unless you are determined to go hiking with the baby on your back. Carriers provide exceptional mobility when traveling, but consider what long hours of carrying the baby can do to your body.

Stroller or carrier for newborn

Add-on equipment is often necessary when using a baby carrier or stroller for a newborn. Prioritize full body support and proper breathing at all times. Carriers resemble womb-like familiarity and can be comforting to the baby as long as the fit is right.

Why do I need a baby carrier?

Some families can go without carriers throughout their baby’s first years. However, parents who desire to be closer to their infants love the benefits you can’t get with a stroller. Babies who use a baby carrier cry less and are less colicky. They are calmer and their needs are met more easily and quickly.

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