The Double Stroller/Bike Trailer: Burley Encore 2011 with Two-Wheel Stroller Kit
This beauty essentially makes our life possible. We have used it mostly in stroller mode thus far, as my youngest is still too young to be pulled behind a bike in it. I found our trailer used on Ebay, but I made sure to get a newer version so that I could use the swiveling two-wheel stroller attachment. If you just want a bike trailer, Craigslist or your local garage sale can set you up with any number and brand of trailers in great used condition (I myself got a chance to use my sister's Via Velo from Costco this summer, and it was wonderful as a bike trailer, though a bit narrower in the kids' shoulders than the Burley Encore). Our two small children fit comfortably in the Burley, along with quite a bit of cargo, maybe a week's worth of groceries. The seats fold down to accommodate tons of cargo if you're traveling sans kids.
This model is still about as narrow as a wheelchair, so it fits through standard doorways and the security gate at the library. Before I found this trailer, I was seriously considering a new Croozer two-child trailer, which has quite a bit more shoulder room inside and individual bucket seats for the two kids. Unfortunately, it is very large at 35" wide, so it would not be convenient to take indoors anywhere. My hope is that by the time my oldest outgrows the trailer, he will be able to ride his own bike, or we might consider a trail-a-bike.
City Mini Single StrollerWhen I know I'll be going on a bus, my toddler rides in the City Mini while baby rides in a carrier. Hands down, the best feature of the City Mini is the one-handed easy fold: you just pull up on a strap in the seat, and the whole thing collapses flat to about the size of a small suitcase. Its footprint is comparable in size to an umbrella stroller, but it swivels nicely with only one hand, so it is ideal for dealing with two kids of different ages in small spaces. It reclines flat, so baby can take a turn in it too if the toddler wants to walk or ride his balance bike. The only downside of the City Mini is limited cargo space in the basket, but it is still enough for the library or a small grocery run.
Strider Balance BikeWhen we bought this guy on Amazon, I thought we were getting a toy, an alternative to a tricycle or a bike with training wheels, for my toddler to ride around in the driveway. As it turns out, the Strider has become like a hands-free stroller. Our 2 1/2-year-old is skilled enough on the Strider at this point that it is a viable transportation option for trips under 3 miles or so. He is actually quite a bit faster than my walking speed, so I stick to smaller streets (though we stay on the sidewalk, of course) and carry his bike to cross busy streets. We have even gone to the grocery store with him on his bike: I just throw his little bike in the cart when we get to the store.
Baby Carriers: Um, One of Each, Please
I confess that I'm a sucker for baby slings. I started with a homemade wrap (equivalent to a Moby or Sleepy) and then kept adding to my collection on a quest for the perfect one. As babywearing moms will attest, no carrier is perfect for every stage of babyhood:
- The wrap continues to be my favorite for young babies.
- My Baby K'Tan, somewhere between a wrap and a structured carrier, is the best all-around carrier for different ages and holds, but you have to get it in your size, so it probably won't also work for a daddy or other caregiver;
- I got a Mei Tai from Etsy to be able to carry baby on my back. Back carrying is more comfortable on long walks but is usually only safe for an older baby (6+ months). I have even carried my 30-pound 2-year-old in a Mei Tai fairly comfortably!
- The Dr. Sears sling (Balboa Baby Sling) is adjustable, so it was useful for Daddy to walk the little baby down to sleep and trade off if necessary. It's generally very versatile and very quick to put on, but I confess that I haven't used mine very much lately.
- We also have a structured carrier that Daddy prefers but I've never worn.
I know many moms swear by their Ergos, but that is one I haven't tried yet.
It feels like a lot of gear when I write it all out, but really, we have our routines set so that deciding on a method of travel is always easy. Library? Both kids in the double stroller. Bus to downtown? Toddler in the City Mini, baby in the Baby K'Tan. Local park? Toddler on his Strider, baby in the City Mini. Living successfully without a car (and, you know, still actually going places) is just a matter of preparation.
Feel free to brag about your favorite baby- and child-toting gear in the comments!