Alternative Transport to the Pram

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Am I the only one who makes sports car noises when manoeuvring a pram along the street? Ok, how about an indicator clicking on and off as I pull out into the pedestrian traffic? Just me, then. Living in the centre of a city presents many obstacles to using the pram. Getting on and off buses and the Tube (yes, we do use public transport). Roadworks, A-boards, street furniture, meandering tourists. So I’m offering up my experiences with these three alternative transport options.

Buggy

Buggies (aka strollers) seem to dominate the baby moving market, certainly from toddler age.

We bought a modestly-priced buggy when F. had to travel down to her parents by train and the pram was just too unwieldy. The relative lightness and collapsibility are positive factors. But there are a couple of down sides. Moving from inflatable tyres to solid ones has meant that the lightness is lost to friction. And our buggy has a fixed height handle. If there’s a height discrepancy between yourself and your partner, then one of you is going to find the buggy handles too high or too low. Between Mrs F. and I, there is such a discrepancy. My silence tells you who it is.

Buggies also seem less stable for the purposes of hanging bags on them (nappy bags, shopping bags, coats, scarfs, hats, cloths, books, toys etc). If you’ve made the decision to bring along wheeled transport (which cannot be left on their own should they get stolen) they should at least offer the benefit of helping you with your bags. You can still peel away from the pedestrian lights with a wheel spin noise.

Backpack

Our baby carrier started out as the front-loading type for younger babies. Whilst convenient in some ways (ask kind of nice to have the baby’s head just under my nose), it took just 20minutes to start to bother my low back. Now at 20 months, we’re able to attach a new piece that functions as a toddler seat that isstrapped to the adult’s back.

V. took to the riding position immediately and has a great deal of fun. Our backpack is smaller and lighter than the metal frame versions that are made by outdoor mountaineering brands. With the backpack I have, the child sits lower down with her head about the same level as mine.

I’ve tried it about fifteen times now, for trips lasting half an hour to the whole morning. My back has felt much more able to carry the baby. Our first trip was to Columbia Road market. Knowing how busy it gets (the whole street is a bottleneck) I didn’t fancy barging through with even a stroller. And it’s perfect for my post-flower market trip around the corner to Brick Lane to pick up a dozen bagels for the freezer and a salt beef bagel for lunch.

A neat feature I recommend is a pull-out head cover the fixes over the child’s head when she’s asleep on your back. The cover supports the head so it doesn’t roll around or jerk backwards. One drawback of having the baby on your back, if you are on your own, is what do you do with your nappy bag? You can’t carry anything else on your back.

Reins

I was under the impression that reins were frowned on by certain parents. But an online search through a couple of parenting forums suggests that this is not the case. An urban myth, then. Perhaps you don’t see reins being used that often because parents are self-conscious of what other parents may think. If so, the more modern incarnation of reins are those toddler backpacks that have the option of a rein attached to it. V is not that much of a bolter but she still wriggles her hand out of ours often enough. I don’t see any downside to reins. But do look for an adjustable wristband. The reins are not designed to take her bodyweight but inevitably when she trips, you can pull back on them to slow her descent and inevitable crashing onto her hands and knees.

So there you go. Alternative modes of transport for the growing toddler, none of them the Batmobile.

By the way, in order to use this photo, it has to be for the purposes of reviewing the Batman film so here is my review: Dark Knight Returns: brilliant.