Winter Toddler Transport

Winter, especially the kind of winter we had around here (in January anyway) can pose some problems for the carfree family. It comes with obvious perks, like not having to find parking or dig out a car, but it can be a little tricky to get out and about with small kids, particularly at certain ages.

We tend not to bike much with the kids in winter. Everywhere we really need to get with them we can walk. For longer trips, we tend to stick more to things accessible by bus or train. But even walking can be tricky when everything is covered in lots of snow and ice. For both of our kids, the first winter was pretty easy. We wore them in carriers everywhere, and had coats that fit over the top of them keeping everyone warm without need to wrestle a baby into a giant snowsuit. If it was icy, we’d wear Yak Trax. We didn’t use the stroller much at all.

H demonstrating a coat I adapted for babywearing, 6 months.

R riding the bus in a Suse's Kindercoat, about 7 months

But winter with a one and a half year old is a little trickier (our kids were born May & June, so they were both solid toddlers their second winter). With our oldest, we were able to keep wearing her in a back carrier without too much trouble through her second winter, but this winter with R was a little different. For one thing, he’s a bit less thrilled with being worn all the time, so getting him into a carrier can be a fight if he’s not amenable, and that is really not the kind of fight you want to be having when you need to get the kids out the door to daycare NOW. We probably would have just forged ahead anyway since strollers are such a pain in the snow, except my mother-in-law picks up our kids from daycare once a week. There was really no way we could ask her to wrestle 25 pounds of screaming toddler onto her back. She’s a fabulous grandma, but that definitely would have been above and beyond the call of duty, and it’s too much of a walk to carry him in arms, and he’s not (yet) a reliable enough walker to hoof it himself.

So we bit the bullet and picked up a second stroller. Our usual stroller is a very used 2006 Maclaren Triumph. It’s worked great for us. Tiny. Light. Has a bit of a recline. Perfect for public transit. Our new stroller is the polar opposite. It is a kind of stroller I swore I would never own, and I have cursed at people  (under my breath) for bringing similar strollers onto crowded subway trains. Yes. It’s true. We bought a jogging stroller, which we have fondly dubbed “The Beast”:

The Beast

We found this circa 2000 or so Dreamer Design on our local parenting listserve, and it fits the bill for handling freakish snowdrifts perfectly. Big wheels. Relatively indestructible. Involves less screaming toddler wrestling. Some might argue we should have gone with a rotating front wheel, but I like the fixed wheel for powering over snow drifts (though I can see where a rotating front wheel would be better for trying to maneuver through very slender barely shoveled walkways).

If we hadn’t had the grandma daycare pick-up factor, we probably wouldn’t have gotten the Beast, but if I’m honest, I really like having it in the arsenal. Walks are so much easier with it than the umbrella stroller if weather is involved. It’s even worked nicely as a pseudo-winter-grocery-cart for heavy things when I didn’t want to bike on ice with a full load. And since I’m being honest, here’s where I confess I have even taken the Beast on the train (but not a bus! Never a bus!). And in my defense, it wasn’t rush hour (there were about five people in the whole car).

About Nathan

Nathan is a postdoctoral research fellow in neuroscience. He thinks parenting is way more fun when you don't have to worry about car seats.
This entry was posted in Child-related issues, Problems and issues, Walking. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Winter Toddler Transport

  1. Carolyn E-V says:

    The picture of H&R with the ice-breaker is so American Gothic! I love it!

    Congrats on the Beast. I think the fixed front wheel is a wintertime necessity. You can always go wheelbarrow-style through narrow areas, and the swivel wheel is a non-starter in the snow.

  2. Emily says:

    I live in Medford with a 1.5 year old and this winter has been rough! We’ve been trapped in the house most of the time. We have that MacLaren stroller as well and it can’t function on the icy snowy sidewalks here. Only in the last couple of days have I been able to take it on our usual errand rotations. I’ve been looking enviously at those 3-wheelers, but we take the bus all the time and they’re just too big for that.

  3. Erin B says:

    I’ve been lurking for about a month now and just wanted to say it is SO nice to have found a cycling blog by women with kids! Reading about couples cycling is fine but when you have a toddler, it’s a whole different ball game!

  4. Susan says:

    The grandmother in question really appreciates your willingness to spring for The Beast. I love it and I think R enjoys the sometimes very bumpy ride. Thanks!

  5. Tracy says:

    Neat. We’re starting to do family planning in earnest and I’ve been wondering how to deal with walking on wintery days. We live in a college town and it’s a rare snowy day when sidewalks are clear. I hadn’t considered a jogging stroller.

  6. abracadabra says:

    Stroller as battle weapon. Love it!

    We had a Phil&Ted E3 that we used heavily for 3 years and I often wondered aloud what I would do once my children outgrew the stroller for getting groceries home… this was pre-cargo bike. The answer was get less stuff, shop more frequently, spend more time total shopping :( .

    Finally adding the xtracycle to the arsenal upon your recommendation… shipping now (no one is 5 states carries it… but I have suggested it to my neighborhood bike store). Everyone is very exited, particularly my 4yo who has been green with envy that his big sis gets to bike to school (3 blocks with next to no traffic) and he does not (preschool is 2 miles away along some busy streets) especially now that he has learned to ride a 2 wheel bike… 2 days ago. We both figure this will be a good compromise.

  7. Pingback: CFWK “rules” for strollers on transit — Carfree with Kids

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