Stroller vs. Baby Carrier: Do You Need Both?

Many parents of newborns ask themselves (and inevitably, the internet) how much equipment is really necessary to function in a life with small children. While strollers and baby carriers are often among the first things to add to the baby registry, when considering space, cost, and just general needs, it can be tempting to choose an option that gives you get the best bang for your buck and forgo the rest.

Depending on who you ask, the answer can go either way – but thinking about your family’s lifestyle will probably give you a better answer than the wild west comments section of common group of moms on Facebook.

What are the pros and cons of a stroller?

🟢 Advantages:

  • Good option for parents with knee or back problems that can’t carry.
  • Can be used for multiple children at a time.
  • Some models can convert to accommodate a bassinet for use with small babies.
  • Travel systems can transfer a baby from your car to the stroller in just a few clicks.
  • Can be used throughout the baby and toddler years, as well as for older children.
  • Easy to use by many people.

🔴 Cons:

  • It needs storage space when not in use – either in the trunk of your car, or somewhere in your home.
  • Heavier to move.
  • Can be quite expensive.
  • It’s a pain in the butt to squeeze into small spaces or go up and down stairs.

What are the pros and cons of a carrier?

🟢 Advantages:

  • It’s generally light and compact, making it easy to throw in a diaper bag.
  • Traditionally cheaper than a stroller.
  • Ride easily up and down stairs, on public transportation, and in compact or busy spaces like elevators and shopping malls.
  • Keeps your baby close, easy to soothe and comfort.
  • Can be worn around the house when you need to get things done.

🔴 Cons:

  • It’s harder to switch between caregivers quickly.
  • It can be painful to transfer a sleeping baby from a car to a carrier.
  • It can be hot for you and your baby.
  • Some babies max out at around 35 pounds.
  • May not be possible for many people to use (due to weight, mobility, or understanding of how to use)

Do I really need both?

I think it’s safe to say that you can probably get away with using either a carrier or a stroller, but again – it really depends on your personal preference. Like many new parents, I filled out my arsenal with a stroller and more than one carrier option but found myself leaning more towards one camp than the other over time due to our family’s needs.

When a carrier is better than a stroller

✅ If you rely on public transportation, find yourself going up and down a lot of stairs and have a baby under 35 pounds, a carrier may be your best bet.

✅ Similarly, if you don’t see yourself leaving the house a ton, but want to keep your baby close while you’re there, a carrier is probably your best friend.

✅ People who like to explore the great outdoors may find that a hiking carrier limits them less than the most rugged stroller, so again, a carrier is probably the way to go.

What are my options for baby carriers?

There is no shortage of options here. There are many different types of wraps for babies from infant to toddler size. Packs, wraps and slings are the most common choices, but there are also hybrid versions that help you get the perks from different styles. Check out this article to help you find the best baby carrier that matches your preferences, but here’s a bird’s eye view of babywearing:

  • Pack carriers: arguably the most versatile, with packs made to last from infancy to childhood. There are usually padded straps, lumbar support, an adjustable waistband, and sometimes even a pocket or two.
  • Wrap carriers: they’re lightweight, have tons of options when it comes to adjustability, and can usually be used until your baby is around 30-35 pounds. You wrap them around your body and your baby, as the name suggests.
  • Hybrid Carriers: provide the snugness of a wrap with the simplicity of a more structured carrier. They have a super adjustable fit, making them perfect for families where multiple people will be wearing them, and are safe for newborns and great for babies up to about 35 pounds.
  • Ring Slings: Unlike a wrap, you just put the sling on and slide baby in so there’s no need for tricky tying or gymnastics to secure your baby.
mother pushes the baby in a stroller

When a stroller is better than a carrier

✅ If you use a car to get around and don’t want to deal with the hassle of pulling your baby out of a car seat, a stroller with a travel system can save you a lot of headaches .

✅ If you are someone who can’t carry a baby or has mobility issues, a carrier may not go.

✅ If you want something that is easy for anyone to pick up and go with, whether it’s you, a grandparent or a babysitter, strollers are familiar and easy to use for most people.

What are my options for strollers?

tons. And what your neighbor Ashleigh likes to use to take her baby out for a 5 am jog isn’t what your co-worker Linda swears by when taking her grandchild to the grocery store, ya dig?

Just like the whole stroller vs. carrier that got us here in the first place, you need to consider your family’s needs before settling on your best stroller option. This article will help you narrow things down, but in a nutshell, you’re looking at the following:

  • Travel Systems: usually a full size stroller that comes with a matching infant car seat and car seat base for your car.
  • All-purpose, full size strollers: can cruise on sidewalks, streets and driveways and easily maneuver over obstacles.
  • Double Strollers: great if you have twins or siblings close in age. They come in a variety of configurations including side-by-side and tandem (one in front of the other), as well as convertible strollers that can switch between single and double.
  • Lightweight/Umbrella Stroller: lightweight strollers that are easy to fold, and easy to transport, making them a great option to bring to the airport to take to your next travel destination.
  • Jogging Strollers/Terrain strollers: built to hit the trails and any rough terrain that comes your way thanks to their big air-filled tires and suspension systems. They usually have three wheels and a hand brake in addition to a foot-operated parking brake.
  • Car seat carrier: consists of only one frame; hand over the car seat, click it into the frame, and go.

Can You Escape Just One?

Considering your personal situation is a good place to start when deciding whether you need to pay for both a baby carrier and a stroller.

It might be a good idea to decide which one you think you’ll use most in the beginning and see if you can live with it before going out to buy another one. You may also find that what worked for the first few months of your baby’s life is less helpful later.

Unfortunately, this is a fairly common technique in the world of children – just when you think you’ve got things figured out, they pass things on to you. Good luck!

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