“My baby hates the stroller / car seat!” Doesn’t have to be a feared phrase in parenting…

“My baby hates the stroller/car seat!” Any new parent will tell you that is a terrible phrase to hear. Is there any way to help stop, or just ease this pain? Yes, yes there is,  but it’s going to take a little work on your part.

I remember talking with my brother on the phone and not being able to hear him for all the wailing and gnashing of teeth going on with his little one who was in his stroller. When I asked what was going on in the background, my brotber just nonchalantly answered…”What can I say, my baby hates the stroller/car seat.” He seemed much more calm about it than I would have been had I been in the same situation. I was fortunately blessed with a baby that zonked out as soon as I put him in the stroller. I am so thankful for that blessing, Lord. 

Now getting back to the answer of how we can stop this problem. In our role as a parent, we wear many hats. In the baby hates the stroller situation, we need to put on our detective hat, because we are going to have to be especially observant. We are going to really study her, trying and learn what she likes and doesn’t like…study her like your sanity depends on it. Quick hint…IT DOES!

Maybe a lion tamer’s hat might be more appropriate for Phase 1…blonde wig a la Sigfried and Roy?!? That might be the better choice after hearing my nephew in his stroller. (ADD Side note: How does such a tiny thing produce such a loud roar?)

Phase 1: Train your little one to like the stroller / car seat
1. Start by first just putting her in the stroller and taking her out right away…no straps! Make a game of it. “In you go! Now out of the stroller!”
2.  Once she isn’t crying the moment she is put in the stroller, play peekaboo or another game that makes her happy. The goal is to make the stroller a fun place where she wants to be. Play with her until she gets comfortable just being in the stroller.
3. Once she seems comfortable in the stroller, try strapping her in and then quickly unstrapping her. If she doesn’t get fussy right away while she is strapped in, play peekaboo or another happy game with her. Again, we are just trying to get her used to being strapped in the stroller. 

Remember, oh great lion tamer, every baby is different. Your baby may take to the stroller or car seat quickly, or it may take longer. It may take 30 minutes of doing this, or it may take a week. If  you feel yourself getting frustrated, just think about the long quiet walks you are going to be able to have with you little one. This is the path to your regaining your sanity. Its worth the effort!

4. Now it’s time to take off the lion timer’s blond wig, and put on the detective hat. Start experimenting with short trips down the driveway or into the back yard. Again, this is all about getting her to enjoy being in the stroller, so bring her back in if she appears to be upset. 
5. Adjust time and distances in stroller from there.

While you are on these short strolls, pay attention to what seems to bother your baby, and more importantly, what doesn’t. Ask yourself these questions: When does she start crying? When does she stop crying? Does she always cry or just sometimes? Does anything make her happy in the stroller?

Become a detective. This may be a bad analogy, but pretend you are that over-acting, red headed, actor who was on that Miami CSI TV show. Pretend you are starting your own TV series…CSI Baby Stroller. (I don’t have a TV, so for all you die hard fans of the red-headed actor I just besmirched, I’m sorry.)

Phase 2: Variables you can control and check  Time of day. Does your baby like to be outside in the morning when its cooler? Maybe in the afternoon when she’s had a long day of laying on her back and staring at the ceiling. I’d want a change of scenery myself. Time of day definitely may play a role in this process.

Position. Some babies dont line not being able to see you. All it takes is to put her in a position that is facing you. This way you can  interact with her more. Give her eye contact and speak to her.

Sleepy. Some parents try strolling when she  is sleepy…not tired, big difference. Sleepy = Nap. Tired = Melt down for your child AND you. That one I can attest to. I made the mistake of planning an evening outing with the A-Bomb after a long day at the park. Let’s just say that night ended rather badly.

Straps may be too tight? Who wants to sit in something that constricts or pinches? Not me! Check to make sure the straps are snug, but comfortable.

Sun in her eyes? Afternoon walks sometimes are bright and sunny. A sunshade could be all it takes to make strolls more fun for everyone.

Too hot/cold. Remember, you are walking, moving around, and warming up. Your baby is just sitting there…and if you are jogging in a stroller, catching a breeze. If it’s cool out, be sure to bundle up your baby and keep her nice and warm. If its warm out, make sure you help keep her cool. We don’t want your baby catching a cold.

I wrote an article about how to prevent your baby from over heating in a stroller on a hot summer day. Here is a link to it. 

Persistance. Babies change quickly. What may bother her today won’t tomorrow or in a week. Keep trying. My nephew who hated the stroller? It was funny, one random day, he didn’t mind being in the stroller.  After that, no more crying. What was my brother’s method?  They just kept putting him in the stroller and kept putting up with the crying. 

Phase 3: Distract that baby!
There are many options for distracting a baby. One of the more popular ones is the Mobile. Mobiles have lots of dangly, things that just naturally attract a baby’s attention. When they are thinking about that swirling, yellow, dangly, thingie right before their face, you know what they are NOT doing? You guessed it, crying because they are miserable in the stroller.

Mobiles are a popular distraction tactic, but they have a limited life span. There are any number of toys to include in this list. You may just need to see what works for your baby.

The A-Bomb loved the remote control. He loved changing the channels, enough that I eventually bought him a real remote. I put batteries in it, so that it lit  up when he hit the buttons. I  never set it up so that it actually changed the channel though. The point of all that is if it works, go with it. If a remote control works, use it. If a spoon works, use it. What ever makes your baby happy…use it. 

I read about a family that used an electric toothbrush to calm their baby down when it was in its car seat. There must have been something about the vibrations or the humming of the toothbrush soothed the baby. They wrote that it was a vital part of their travel supplies. 

Food is always a go to distractor. Goldfish are popular because they are bite size, baked, and tasty for Poppy and Mommy as well. One warning, if the little one isn’t facing you in the stroller, beware of choking or the ever popular slurpey / sippy cup spill. They can make a mess of themselves a d the stroller in the blink of an eye. If you are out for a while, there is nothing worse than being surprised with a partially dried slurpey spill all over your baby and stroller when you get home. 

With all that cell phones can do now, music and videos are always an option for distracting a little one. I’ve never a big fan of screens and technology as a distraction, especially as it is those screens and technology from which we are trying to escape.

 Phase 4: Alternate Options  If strollers don’t work out for you, there are still other options yet to consider. Here are a few alternatives that will allow you to get outside a d adventure with your little ones.

Cargo Bikes. Bakfiet is a Dutch made bike that is the gold standard for kid and cargo transport all over the world. I might give my left arm for a Bakfiet cargo bike. They are awesome. I have a friend who started a biking nonprofit here in my hometown. She rides her kids to school in a Bakfiet. I am just filled with envy every time I see her riding, and I see the joy in her kid’s eyes as they ride in it. 

Push wagons and push trikes are a fun way to get outside. Kids aren’t typically strapped in and these can be a fun way for kids to particiipate in the walk. With the wagon, multiples of kids can ride together and that is always fun. With the trike, although riding alone, your child can pedal a d feel like they are helping…as opposed to just sitting there in a stroller

Carriers, Wraps, and Slings. Some parents prefer to carry their child. It is a bit more intimate, which can be a good or bad thing. Plus as the kids get older, they have this bad habit of growing and getting heavier. Carrying a child  allow moms and dads to keep their hands free to do other things like walk the dog, (see the article I wrote

“How can I get my dog to walk with a stroller”) go shopping, or just clean the house. People all over the world use variations of wraps and4 carriers, so there must be something to them. 

When the A-Bomb was born I tried a carrier and a wrap. I used the carrier a lot, and liked it. I was never comfortable with my knot tying abilities therefore the wrap was rarely used. The wrap I used was a long piece of material that one literally “wraps around themselves attaching the baby to one’s back or tummy. I wonder where they came up with that name?!? There are any number of ways to tie it…baby facing you, baby facing away from you, baby on your back or on your tummy. I always worried that something would become loose and he would fall off. Even though many people swear by them, I just never really used my wrap that much.

Two carriers that are popular are the Baby Bjorn and the Ergobaby. I’m planning to do a comparison article on those two carriers, and will provide a link here when it’s done. So look for it soon.

Now that you have a few options on what to do with a crying baby, put on a new hat, your adventurers hat and go have an adventure with that kid of yours. 

How can I get rid of an old stroller?

How can I get rid of my old baby stroller? There are several options available to you…donating it, recycling it, or selling it. Let’s see which one is best for you.  

DONATE IT:

Gift it to family and friends. I know when the A-Bomb was born, I was gifted a lot of stuff that I wasn’t able to use and subsequently ended up storing. Before you gift something to someone, make sure it is in working order and most importantly, safe for their baby to use.  Better yet, ask what they need first, rather than just dumping a lot of stuff on them is always the polite thing to do. Don’t burden people with your old junk. They have enough to worry about with a new baby coming along.

Non-profits that will resell your stroller.  Goodwill / Salvation Army may not be able to accept your stroller because it is difficult to resell strollers due to federal regulations. Smaller non-profits that resell donated items may be able to skirt that law as they are smaller and can fly under the radar.

Non-Profits that will use your stroller. A battered woman’s shelter or a teen pregnancy home may be a great option, as they won’t resell your stroller, but will gift it to a needy person. They are often looking for donated items like strollers. Other options of non-profits in this category are churches, food shelters, disaster relief groups, and refugee relocation groups.  

For profit that will use your stroller. Daycares where your baby may have attended. They are usually looking for ways to save money. As long as your stroller is in good condition, they usually love free stuff from past attendees.

Websites Freecycle is a grass roots / non profit site that connects people and allows them to pass on, for free, an unwanted item to another person who needs that item. The practice frees up space in landfills, and cuts down on the need to manufacture new goods. Thousands of groups dedicated to connecting people who want to give away something to people with a need are forming worldwide. Check and see if there is one in your area.

RECYCLE IT:

This option may take a little more work than the others. Manufacturers or retailers sometimes offer a take-back period, where they will “take back” used strollers. These are few and far between, so don’t count on it as a way of responsibly disposing of your stroller. As disassembling a stroller is pretty labor intense, it may be worth giving your manufacturer or retailer a call just in case.

While you are on the phone with them about the possibility of a take back option, ask if they can help you find out what components of the strollers are recycleable, and which ones are not.

Recycling strollers means disassembling them and recycling the individual pieces, typically the fabric, plastic, metal components. Depending on the quality of the stroller, sometimes these components don’t want to be separated. So, if on the front end, you can find out which components are recyclable, it may help you decide where to place your efforts when disassembling. There is no use in spending a lot of energy separating two pieces that are not recycleable anyway.  

SELL IT: 

On line: Craig’s list

Yard Sale 

Preparing your stroller for sale:

  1.  It is against the law to sell a product that has been recalled, (even at a yard sale) so make sure it isn’t on a recall list. You can contact the manufacturer and ask. 
  2. While you are on the phone with them, see if you can get a owner’s /instructional manual from them if you have lost your original. Having any official documents always helps with resale value.
  3. If you dont want to talk to customer service, here is a link  to a great website that has product manuals that you can download and print for free. It’s called manuals online. 
  4. Check all the moving pieces and make sure everything is in working order, and more importantly isn’t a hazard. Things like hinges (fold and unfold it several times,) tires (roll smoothly and are not loose) fasteners/clips (does it stay folded when you fold it up?)
  5. If you have been storing it for a while, check for mold and mildew. Make sure to give it a good cleaning before trying to sell it…unless you want to just get rid of it at any old price. I wrote an article on how to clean mildew off a stroller. Here is a link to it.
  6. Check all the safety features…safety straps/harness, safety strap on handlebar, and brakes. (The buyer will more than likely will check this out,and you want to be able to put them at ease that YOUR stroller is safe for THEIR baby)

How do I price my stroller?

There are many factors that go into this, just like any other used item for sale…condition, age, brand of stroller how you plan on selling it will make or break the starter price. I think the best way to go about getting that starter price is to go on Craig’s list or Ebay and look to see what others are selling their strollers for your area. 

If you plan on selling it online, you may get a better price than if you were to sell it at a yard sale. Yard sales are for bargain hunters and hagglers. They will more than likely make a ridiculous counter offer. I remember listing a very nice unicycle at a yard sale for $100. The counter offer was $5. I eventually sold it for $30. The reason for that story is this, yard sales are to clean your house out, not to make top dollar. This will affect your sales price. 

Don’t take someone’s advice on price if they live in another part of the country, or in a big city or small town, if it’s different than where you live. Sometimes a stroller in one area could be priced very differently than the same stroller in another area. 

I’ve read that 1/2 to 1/3 the original price is a good rule of thumb for a list price online. But again, age, condition and where you sell it will play a role in that. Also, expect people to haggle with you, so don’t be offended when it happens. 

The other question I have to now ask is

Can I buy a used stroller? While I wouldn’t recommend it. Yes, you can buy a used stroller, but I would only buy one made after 2015. Here is a link to the info on the government’s updated rules. After September 10, 2015, all strollers manufactured or imported to the U.S. had be built, tested and labeled to minimize issues with:

  • Hinges that can pinch, cut, or amputate fingers
  • Latch/lock mechanism failures
  • Parking brake failures
  • Seat belts that are able to be unfastened

If the stroller you are looking at is part of a travel system…has a car seat, I would pass. The car seat portion of the travel system may have been involved in a car crash and may be ineffective in protecting your child. Just like a bike helmet is no good after a wreck, a car seat may look fine, but really have structural issues that could prevent it from protecting your baby in a crash. 

If you are looking, be sure to check all of the items I listed above. You are responsible for your baby’s safety. 

How can I get my dog to walk with my stroller?

I was walking to work the other day and noticed a woman struggling to push her baby in a running stroller. The reason for her difficulties was that she was also trying to walk her canine baby at the same time. The canine baby had obviously not been worked with too much, as he was pulling, lunging and just being a normal over-stimulated pup. He didn’t seem aggressive, unless one was concerned about getting big, wet, sloppy, kisses, but he was all over the place looking for adventure or attention. This got me to thinking. How can one train their dog to walk with a stroller? 

The quick answer? Practice! Practice! Practice…and maybe a Gentle Leader. Wait, maybe that answer should be reversed. Introduce your dog to a Gentle Leader and then Practice! Practice! Practice!

The first part of that answer is to get your dog to walk without pulling on his leash, while the second part is having him get used to walking with a stroller.

What is a Gentle Leader?

A gentle what? What is it, and how does it work? A Gentle Leader is a dog collar that loops around the dog’s nose, under his chin, and has straps that clips behind the ears on the back of the neck. It is similar to a horse halter, if you know what that looks like.

They are often recommended by veterinarians because they are a pain free training device, unlike choke collars, prong collars, or electric shock collars.  At first glance, it may look similar to a muzzle (which restricts the ability to bite), but it is not. While wearing the Gentle Leader, your canine baby can pant, drink, eat, and do everything else he would normally do. He may fuss at first, but once he gets used to it, it’s no problem at all.

Why does it work better than other collars? 

Dogs obviously communicate with each other differently than we communicate with them. The gentle leader is a way of bridging those two worlds.

Dogs, both wild and domesticated, use something called a “muzzle grab” as a means of communication. You may have seen it when puppies are playing, or when mothers try to ween their pups from nursing. They grab their pups jaw with their teeth. They don’t bite down, they just grab. It lets the other dog know,  “Hey,  I’m in charge here.” It isn’t always a dominance thing. Dogs will sometimes offer up their nose for a grab as a way of saying “I’m still your pup.” While  the grabber is communicating back, “I know, and I’ll take care of you.”

With that being written, the Gentle Leader works in this realm of communication. The nose loop goes around the dog’s nose & jaw, telling your dog, in his own language, that you are in charge and will take care of him. The neck strap puts pressure on the back of the neck which causes your dog to instinctively relax, rather than pull forwards when he wants to go faster or in another direction than you.

The gentle lead works in two ways, both of which are entirely different than the traditional leashes. It directs the nose or head of the dog, and therefore it directs the body. When the dog wants to pull away from you, the gentle lead redirects his head, making his body turn around so that he ends up facing you. The other benefit of this redirection is that his head is directed away from the distraction…thus reducing the desire to go that way

With a Gentle Leader, you can actually walk and control your dog with one finger holding the leash. It doesn’t take much effort to let your pup how you want him to act. One quick, small, tug turns his head and he is facing you. I remember the Tug O’ Wars I used to have with my dog, Gavin. He was not very good on a leash…which meant neither was I.

This is a much nicer way to treat a member of the family than the myriad of training tools that use pain as their motivator.

Traditional collars

with their loop, put pressure on the front of the throat, or more specifically, the trachea (his airway) causing your dog difficulty in breathing, which in theory should cause him to stop pulling. But your dog’s natural reaction to being pulled is to resist. We all know how well that works. How many times have you been pulled down the street by a choking, wheezing dog? So the traditional leash doesn’t really work and no one ends up having any fun.

Electric shock collars

are worse in that they are designed to inflict pain on your pup. Every time he does something wrong, whether it’s his fault or not, you shock him and cause him pain, all in the name of teaching. Is that really the way you want to treat an animal you love?

Prong  Collars

are similar except they simulate being bitten on the throat rather than shocking your best friend. I used one of these with my dog, Gavin. I regret using it. Most of the problems I had with him were due to the fact that I didn’t know how to communicate with my pup. I got frustrated because of it. He didn’t know what I wanted him to do, and I didnt know how to let him know. That frustration falls clearly on me.

Choke Collars

 inflict pain by restricting the airway of your pup. Again, we are causing pain in order to teach.

I wouldn’t teach the A-Bomb that way, so why would I teach my dog that way? 

Some people worry that the gentle lead will cause the dog injure his neck if he lunges too quickly. There have been many studies on this and it has been proven to be false. In fact, many veteranains recommend these leads with injured dogs as it prevents further neck injuries when dogs are walking on a leash. In fact the gentle lead was the number one recommended collar by veterinarians when it came out in 1996. 

Your pup will probably balk at the idea of a new collar on their face, but if introduced correctly, (w/ lots of treats) most dogs quickly become used to it and think nothing of wearing it. 

Now that we have your pup walking on a leash properly, we need to get him used to the stroller. That is a whole other issue…they are big and bulky and are totally foreign to your pup. 

If it’s not too late, I’d recommend that you not wait till the baby has arrived to try and tackle the walking the pup with the baby stroller. This is a transition that will take a little bit of time to get used to…for you AND the pup. If you start before the baby arrives, it gives you time to focus on one thing at a time. Plus, if your canine baby makes a mistake, you will have a have a full nights sleep to help with your patience. With a new or young child, any way you can reduce stress is a good thing.

If you are taking your pup out for a training run with the stroller, dont be surprised when folks give you a funny look when they see no baby. Heck make a joke out of it and make a sign letting people know you are training your pup.

For starters, just practicing getting out the door with stroller and pup might be a great plan of attack. Baby steps here.  My pup tended to get a little excited when he got to go for a walk, enough so that he forgot everything he had ever learned about manners. A few practice sessions of how to get out ths front door might have helped reduce my stress levels. 

Once you can get out the front door safely, practice short straight walks. Let your pup know where you want him to be so his toes don’t get run over.

Once he gets a feel for where he is supposed to be. Move on to turns and stops. Always remember this is new fo him as well, so practice patience.

After a few trips, everyone should get the hang of it. now go have an adventure with BOTH your babies. 

How can I prevent my baby from overheating in a stroller?

One of my HUGE fears when the A-Bomb first arrived, was that I would forget, and leave him in the car. This wasn’t just a passing thought that would pop into my head when I was driving, or at work. I had full on nightmares and panic attacks about this scenario. It got so bad that I sometimes woke up in the middle of the night, just to go check to make sure that I had not left him in the car. I can get a little “distracted” at best and full on ADD at worst, so this was a real fear for me.

This past summer I read a headline about a woman who lost her baby to overheating. The reason I remember this is because I had a mini panic attack while reading it. My initial thought when reading the headline was that she had probably left her baby in the car. I was shocked when they went on to explain that the woman had actually been walking her baby in a stroller, and had covered the stroller with a blanket to keep the sun off her child.

She thought she was doing something to protect her baby, but it ended up harming her baby. I can’t even imagine the pain she was, and probably still is feeling. That story broke my heart, and is the impetus for this post. Sometimes we think we are doing things to protect our babies…but we are not.

All I can  write is “There, but for the grace of God, go I!” When I went to festivals when the A-Bomb was tiny, I did the same thing. Its only natural…you are outside for many hours at a time, shade is usually in short supply because its in a park or large open space, and you think, “I don’t want my baby to get hot in the sun,” so you quickly put a blankie or t-shirt over his/her stroller to block the sun. I got lucky, the woman in that article, did not.

So be careful when walking or exercising with your kids in the summer heat. Overheating doesn’t just happen in cars. What can you do to prevent this from happening to your precious one? There are several things you can do.

Agua, H2o, Oh Mizu, wasser, or just plain old WATER is always best, but something with electrolytes will work as well.

(For those of you who are fans of the movie “Idiocracy,” you’re welcome!)

If your baby is young enough to still be breast feeding, offer her that before water. On hot days, offer water more frequently, as kids may be distracted and forget to ask, or unable to ask on their own depending on the age of the child.

Cooling Packs are a great addition to a stroller if you are going to have an afternoon outing at a festival or a pic-nic. Those freezer packs you use for your lunch? Slip one under the padding of the seat cushion in the stroller. It will help keep her nice and cool. You can also freeze a bottle of water and do something similar. Be sure the ice isnt touching the baby’s skin though. You might want to wrap it in a towel or a blankie. I used to put the cold bottle in a sock and tie up the end. The  bottle cap can be a choking hazard if it comes loose.

Airflow is the key to keeping your baby cool. Even if its super hot outside a cool breeze can cool the temp by about 10 degrees. If there is a back panel in your stroller that can be removed, take it out on hot days. It will allow hot air to escape and cool breezes in.

Fans, if natural airflow isn’t available, you can always buy some. Battery operated fans are available at most corner pharmacies. Many fans even come with a clip to attach it to the stroller, making them perfect for a hot day.

Shade is always a good idea on a hot and muggy day, but it needs be paired with ventilation for optimal cooling.  An additional sun visor or canopy attachment for the stroller is fairly inexpensive, and usually easy to attach. I’m not always the most mechanically inclined…and I could do it. Not throwing shade on anyone…but…(see what I did there?)

Some of you may be asking “How can I tell when my baby is over heating?” Here are some tell tale signs:

  • A flushed face is an obvious first sign. Her ears or neck may also be red.
  • Another quick way to check is by touch. If she feels warmer than usual. Give her a drink.
  • Irritability, dizziness, and lethargy are kind of the next level of signs. At this point you should start to try and cool your baby down. Get her inside or at the very least to some shade, give her a moist towel bath…anything to make her more comfortable.
  • You also may notice heat rash…those little red dots on her upper body. Those are caused by sweat glands getting blocked.

Children’s bodies are not as developed as ours, which means that all their bodily functions aren’t working at peak efficiency yet. Some of the stinkier ones are unfortunately operating at peak efficiency from day one…but body heat regulation isn’t one of those functions. That is why we, as parents, need to be aware of this, and do everything we can to protect our babies! So now that you know, go out and have a “cool” adventure with your baby!

Finally, a definitive answer to the age old question…”Can I store my baby stroller outside?”

I was talking with a runner friend of mine and he was complaining about the size of his running stroller. He was asking people in our running group where they stored their bulky running strollers. I know he lives in a small house in midtown, which more than likely doesn’t have much closet space to begin with…and definitely not enough to kill a whole precious closet for a running stroller. By the way he was asking, what I really think he was asking everyone was “Can I store my stroller outside?”

This got me thinking about the running stroller I used when the A-Bomb was small. I had enough room to keep it in the house, but it lived in the front room, right by the front door. Although that was practical, it was less than ideal. Every time I walked in the house I was reminded of one of two things…

  1. “I need to go exercise! Man, I’m getting fat.”
  2. “I spent a lot of money (to me) on that horribly ugly running thing that I never use!?!

That reminds me I need to exercise! Man, I’m getting fat!”

 

Getting it out of site may have alleviated a lot of my stress when the A-Bomb first arrived. So I understood where my friend was coming from, and I decided to try and help. He obviously was bothered by this, as he was asking people what they were doing with their running strollers. So I took a poll of runners in a social media running group I am in. I asked two simple questions.  “Where do you store your running stroller? and “Do you store your running stroller outside?”

I got about 50 responses, and the following are the ranked results:

  1. In the car (trunk)
  2. In the garage
  3. In the house
    • By front door/closet by the front door
    • In the nursery
  4. In a shed
  5. On the back porch

I wanted to post all the results because I always like to know what others are doing, but not all the answers are pertinent to this post, so I will save those for a future post about “How to store your stroller.”

Most, if not all of those who stored their strollers outside, stated bugs/spiders or moisture/mildew as their main points of concern. “I don’t want to get my baby sick!” Also, theft was a point of concern for many parents living in a more urban area…a common reply I saw was “my stroller was expensive, I don’t want some punk stealing my baby’s stroller.

So with that being written, the short answer to the question of “Can I Store my stroller outside?” is yes, yes you can. But let’s discuss the concerns with doing so. Moisture, was honestly my first thought when I was initially asked this question. This is layered point, so let’s break it down into parts in order to address it. The first part I would think is keeping it dry, while the second part is what to do with it once it is already wet. Let’s attack them one at a time.

How can I keep it dry?

There are many options here, and at many different price points. A few ideas to think about: covered porches/patios, storage sheds, “temporary” storage tents, plain old stroller covers/tarps. Each one offers a part of the solution, and they can be used together to help where one may not offer all the solutions. There is no one size fits all to this, as every person has different needs, circumstances, and price points.

The back porch /patio offers a large overhang to keep water from directly falling on the stroller. But if the stroller is stored right by the edge, there may be some side entry from splashing or wind blowing water onto the stroller. In that case a tarp or rain cover may also help keep the stroller dry.

Storage sheds come in all shapes and sizes. You can pay up to several thousand dollars, or as little as $150 for a half sized plastic shed…which just happens to be the perfect size to hold a stroller. One of the key benefits of a storage shed is its ability to be locked. I live in an area where crime is an issue, so I would be concerned about theft if I left mine outside. Storage sheds are great because they have taken all the thinking out of the process for you. They are already designed to secure your stroller. They are designed to keep it dry. Depending on the price shed you buy, they are designed to be something you can use for years to come. The trade-off for all that design is that they are more expensive and they may require more space in your back yard.

A storage tent is an idea that I found that is similar to a storage shed. It is exactly what it sounds like; a tent that is made of the same water proof material as a tarp. They have zippers that can be locked. They only cost about $50-$100. While that price may be awesome, the trade-off is that it is less secure. If someone wanted to get a look inside, all they would need is a razor and poof, they are in…and unfortunately, you are out…of the money you paid for the stroller and the tent. Another negative to the storage tent is that it is not a long term solution. I read about many people having to get another tent after a year or two because the sun, or the UV rays from the sunlight deteriorating the tarp material.

Rain covers/Tarps are another inexpensive, short term fix to your storage solutions. While they are great at keeping water off your precious stroller from above, they are not made to breathe. That means if you are storing a stroller under it for a long time, beware condensation inside the tarp. If the air flow is restricted, the moisture in the air trapped inside the tarp can condensate and make everything under the tarp wet…creating a breeding ground for mold and mildew.

Speaking of Mold and Mildew…what a perfect segue. It was almost like I planned that.

What to do with stroller once it is wet?

Like I wrote earlier, the main concerns of water are mold/mildew or rust. Both may take a little elbow grease, but are easily fixed.

Mold/Mildew are both serious, but should not a problem if addressed early. Mold is a little more of a problem, but not a deal killer in most instances. Once you see mold or mildew on your stroller, take it outside on a sunny day and give it a good wash with a scrub brush. Sunlight is a key ingredient to the process, so be sure it is sunny. Plus it will speed up drying out the wet stroller after you wash it.

There are many ways to kill mold/mildew at this stage,

Step 1: Take your stroller outside and set it in the sun. Scrape away the existing mold with an old tooth brush or even your finger will do. Be sure to not breathe in any of the mold spores, as that is how they cause problems. When you are first scraping away mold spots, be sure to check under straps and in crevices. These are the places mold and mildew love. After scraping away any large, obvious spots of mold, wash the stroller thoroughly with one part vinegar, one part baking soda and a squirt of dish soap. It may smell bad while you are cleaning it, but once you set it out in the sun, the smell will dissipate. After an hour or so in the sun, rinse the stroller thoroughly, and let it completely dry in the sunlight. The mold and or mildew should disappear. This is always a great way to give your stroller a general cleaning.

 

Step 2. If, after the first pass, there are still a few spots of mold/mildew on your stroller, you can wet the area with lemon juice, sprinkle it with salt, and then let it dry in the sun. Lemon juice may fade some colors, so be sure to test the fabric in an inconspicuous location.

Bleach and water is a third option, but I usually try and steer people away from using harsh chemicals that might affect the baby.

Rust is another problem that if left alone can be dangerous, but if addressed early, shouldn’t be cause for concern. There are products out there that will literally oxidize the rust into steel. One such product is by a company called Star Brite. Their product is called Star Brite Rust Eater & Converter. It is sprayed on and left to work for a few minutes. You rub it off and it removes the rust. It may leave a white residue, but that is able to be wiped off with a dry rag. There are many such products out there that will do a perfectly fine job I’m sure, but this is one that I have used and I know it works.

 

Spiders…everyone hates spiders right? One interesting fact about spiders…their nose is their feet, or their feet are their noses? Either way, if you coat a surface with something that they don’t like, they will not walk on it. Here are a few herbs or oils used to deter spiders. Plus they will make your storage area smell rather nice…lavender, citronella, cinnamon, citrus, peppermint or tea tree oil. Add a drop of any one of these in a water bottle, spray your storage area, and prevent spiders from moving in. Eucalyptus is another plant they don’t like. You can plant it outside your storage shed, or by your back porch and the spiders will stay away.

 

 

How can I make exercise fun for a little one?

It has taken me many years of trials and tribulations, but I think I have figured out how to make exercise fun with a little one.

A little back story as to how I got here…I was a hard core runner for many years. I started running cross country in jr. high school. Our coach was a believer in a grueling training regimen, so we ran lots of miles. We averaged 50-60 miles a week. I didn’t run in college, but picked up the sport after I graduated. When I started running again, I thought I knew how to train because I’d been doing it forever. So I started running lots of miles again. I cut back a little and only ran about 30-40 miles a week. Then one day I realized…this is just no fun, and I quit. I had grown to hate running.

I am an introvert by nature, which means I need time alone to recharge my batteries. Exercise had always been that time, but it also allowed me to set a bad pattern in my life…I became reclusive. I was so focused on the large number of miles I had to get in before I could quit running, that it became my excuse to politely decline an invitation to dinner or to hang with a friend. Running actually became a bad thing in my life. I needed to reassess who I was and what I wanted. In a dark period of my life, I stopped running all together, but continued my hermit like existence. I finally realized I was just existing, rather than living this beautiful life that God gave me.

I reassessed my life and thought about what it was that I liked about exercise. I realized that I enjoyed being outside, seeing beautiful trees, watching kids play in their yards, saying hello to neighbors sitting on their porches, and petting the random dog. I felt connected with my self, as well as the world around me. I got the best results when I wasn’t looking at it as running or exercising, but looking at it as exploring the world around me. When I took the time to stop and smell the flowers, each day became an adventure. Who am I going to meet today? What bit of “beauty” am I going to find?

With the advent of cell phone cameras, I started taking pictures of “beauty” when I was out walking or running. I have incorporated that on my nightly walks with the A-bomb. We have made a game of it, looking for beauty, and capturing it with my camera phone. He thinks we are on an adventure, but we are really exercising.

We sometimes have scavenger hunts. I make a list of things that we have to find on our walks: red flower; piece of trash; a bird; a front door….Then we have to find and photograph each item on the list. Whoever has the best photo is the winner.

For a time, I forgot how beautiful our world can be. It can masked in a lot of ugly, but it is there if you seek it. I want the A-Bomb to always look for, and find the “beauty” in the world, no matter how obscured it has become.

I have attached some “beauty” that the A-bomb and I have found while out on our adventures. As you can see, a lot of our “beauty” is trash or other random things, but anything can be beautiful if you look hard enough. We are what we look for.

Now, go out and find some beauty with your little one. Have an adventure with your little one…& make exercise fun.


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