You’ve seen them before: parents who grunt as they lift their carseats, curse as they try to unfold their strollers, sweat as their sleeping babies come out of their car and become the center of a Transformer’s worth of motion to become perched on that stroller, then strain as they push that stroller along; meanwhile, the baby is hanging out of their straps, or stone-faced and squeezed in. We all fear being these parents as we shop for our strollers. Fortunately, Kaizen tells us that we can understand and prevent problems like these using a technique called The Five Whys.
The Five Whys is what you call “root cause analysis” — a technique to find what really caused an issue, so that you can treat the cause, not the symptom. It consists of… asking “why” five times. (As you can see, this Kaizen stuff is pretty technical.) Let’s try it for these parents, so that, when you’re shopping for your stroller and car seat, you can avoid just this kind of mistake.
Why do Parents Hate their Car Seat?
- Why do you hate your car seat? Because it’s hard-to-use.
- Why is it hard-to-use? It’s hard to get it in and out of the car, and to resize it to fit baby.
- Why is it hard to get your car seat in and out of the car? Because the car seat is too heavy and bulky to handle easily
- Why is the car seat so large? Because it has so many added features.
- Why does the car seat have so many added features? Because I need additional roll bars; extra padding; cupholders; and more.
Why do Parents Hate their Stroller?
- Why do you hate your stroller? Because it’s hard-to-use.
- Why is it hard-to-use? Because it’s hard to get in and out of the car.
- Why is it hard to get your stroller in and out of the car? Because it’s too large to fit easily in the trunk; too heavy to lift; and too much work to open and close.
- Why is the stroller so large and heavy? Because it has large wheels to go over varied terrain and can be transformed so that it’s appropriate for multiple uses; the complex transformation also makes it hard to open.
- Why do you need to support so much terrain and so many uses? Because someday I will take my child hiking in this stroller, and not wear the baby on my hike; I will jog with the baby; and I will also use the stroller as my shopping cart, rather than putting baby in the shopping cart seat.
Choosing a Better Car Seat and Stroller
What do these lists have in common? Strollers and car seats that are too large and inconvenient. Are all of those other features compelling? Potentially. But every carseat sold today is safe, and medium-size stroller wheels run over a wide variety of surfaces pretty well, at least in an urban environment. Is it worth having a stroller for jogging? For sure. Is it necessary to have that stroller in your trunk every single day? Probably not.
The key is to pick something that works well with your daily needs; and to supplement that with something that meets your specialized requirements, that you can periodically call on. Otherwise, you pay for the extra features every time you use your seat or stroller — you pay with your back, your fingernails, and your cranky baby.
The Car Seat and Stroller I Own
For what it’s worth, here’s what I own:
- The Britax B-Safe Infant Car Seat, Black is what our baby rides in. It’s light, and comparatively easy to move around. It slips into its base easily, and comes out fairly easily as well. The handle locks in three positions, which is convenient. It’s very easy to adjust the straps, taking just seconds to switch between sizes.
- The Britax B-Agile Stroller lives in the car, where it fits wonderfully — it’s sized just right for the back of the CR-V and opens and closes with just a touch. Both my wife and I can easily lift it in and out with just one hand. The accessory Stroller Organizer with cupholders is indispensable.
- The UPPAbaby G-Luxe Stroller has an amazingly large awning, which is great for our very light-skinned son’s sun protection needs. It’s a very light stroller that collapses easily and stands well in the corner.
- The Snap N Go EX Stroller was the go-to in the baby’s early days, when he could only go out in the carseat. It has an enormous basket and is good for shopping. Compared to everything else, it’s cheap enough to leave outside, since you’ll be using it every day, without having a stroke over weather and theft worries. Now, it’s great to keep in the trunk of the lesser-used car.
Would I recommend all of these? Absolutely. Do you need this many contraptions? Not at all. The big thing is to start with a practical carseat and a stroller that can carry that carseat and collapses well, then build out as you understand what kinds of things you like to do with your baby (running, walks, shopping, etc.). And remember the lessons from above:
- Not too heavy
- Not too big
- Easy to get in and out