Now that I have Evie, not a day goes by that we don’t venture out for a walk. Those lazy weekends where I used to spend an entire day in my PJ’s slobbing on the sofa watching back to back box sets are, for the most part, a thing of the past. Babies (or at least ours) tend to get pretty grouchy when indoors all day with the same toys/environment/boring old Mum to entertain them and sometimes just a change of scenery is all that’s needed to break the cycle of crying, non napping and general grumpiness. As I don’t drive, unless my Husband is at home, I pretty much walk everywhere with Evie and as a result, she is very at home strolling the streets in her buggy.
Around a month and a half a go we switched from the flat bassinet pram to the upright stroller, and apart from me feeling pretty darn emotional when packing the pram away in the garage and realising the newborn days are behind us, we haven’t looked back. Evie’s always loved seeing what’s going on around her and was trying to pull herself up into sitting position long before she actually had the strength to do so, so her new position – a perfect front row seat to the world around her – suits her perfectly.
For the last couple of weeks we’ve been trying out the Baby Jogger City Mini for our daily adventures – a lightweight, compact stroller made with urban mobility in mind – and I have to say we’re pretty smitten. It’s our first foray into a forward facing stroller, and even though I do miss seeing her face in front of me and being able to chat away to her while walking, Evie seems to adore watching the world go by and doesn’t miss me all that much at all (clearly my chat wasn’t that great!). Although forward facing strollers are generally for babies of 6 months and above, we had Evie in this from around 5 and a half months as she’s been sitting up on her own for a while now and thanks to the adjustable straps on the City Mini which keep her snug and secure, and the reclining seat which allows for both an upright sitting position and a lying flat sleeping position, I felt confident she was happy and safe. The stroller also has two handy flaps on the hood which mean you can easily keep an eye on your little one if, like me, you’re used to being able to see them constantly and are a little overprotective.
Baby Jogger have teamed up with celebrity travel expert (and Mum of two) Laura Hamilton (of ‘A Place in the Sun’ fame) to put together a ‘How I Stroll’ guide – a handy set of tips on how to make the most of being out and about with a baby. I thought I’d share a bit more about what our daily strolls look like and offer up some of my own tips alongside Laura’s.
I’m grateful that our home town is full of interesting walking routes and there’s plenty for Evie to see and do while we stroll as this girl of mine absolutely LOVES being outdoors. I often compare her giddiness at being strapped into her stroller to that of a dog when you brandish a lead at them and they know a walk is about to begin. Her face lights up the second we step outside, and wandering through green spaces and parks where she can look at the trees and hear the sounds of nature, see her arms and legs flail around in excitement while she excitedly chats and squeals.
Although I switch up our route and location daily, an average daily stroll will see me walking into Rochester high street, through the houses to reach The Vines park – a lovely green space with tall trees, grassy areas and picnic benches should we want to stop and feed/play for a while – before coming out near the castle, wandering the old grounds through hidden archways and cobbled alleyways, taking in the castle and stopping for an ice cream on a sunny day, then venturing onto the high street to have a potter around the charity shops and grab a coffee (or on a hot day, a cool drink). One of Laura’s top tips is to use your daily walks as a chance to aid your child’s development and spend the time singing and talking to your baby in order to help them develop language skills. I couldn’t agree with this more, and definitely feel like Evie is taking in so much from the sights and sounds around her when we walk.
In a contrast to when she was really little (when the white noise would send her to sleep), walking around shops and shopping centres definitely isn’t as enjoyable for her, generally just makes her a bit scared and upset and sees me having to stop to lift and carry her every few minutes (how a shopaholic like me has bred a daughter who doesn’t like shopping I will never know!). I have a feeling that busy shops with their loud music, bright lights and hustle and bustle are just sensory overload for her, so to keep the little lady happy, we tend to stick to the calming outdoors (seriously I’m dreading winter!!), where she can happily appreciate the colours and shapes, while I chat away non stop like a mad woman, pointing out dogs and birds and flowers. Thankfully the City Mini is perfect for this. It’s ideal for running errands, navigating multi terrain (including the dreaded cobbled streets of our home town) and generally makes even the bumpiest of pavements feel like a smooth ride (making me feel a lot less guilty when I accidentally bump my sleeping baby over a pothole mid walk) meaning I can give Evie her history lesson without a worry.
Laura also heralds a simple fold up and fold down pushchair as essential for the busy parent about town and again I agree. When I’m out and about on my own with Evie, probably my most sought after factor for a stroller is ease – something that’s easy to pop up and down, that I don’t need a manual to operate and that can make my life hassle free. One of my favourite aspects of the City Mini, is its quick fold technology and one handed collapse feature. By lifting a strap on the seat, the stroller quickly and easily folds down compactly – you can do it one handed while holding your baby in the other, and the auto lock immediately keeps it in its compact shape. It’s a lot lighter than most strollers too, so if you’ve got a baby who likes to be held helping to build your biceps daily, carrying it will be a doddle. Getting on and off public transport immediately feels less stressful and small boots or lack of space are no longer an option.
Perhaps what I love most about the City Mini however, is the giant multi position hood canopy. We’ve been enjoying a lot of sunny weather of late, which is lovely but when dealing with a small human, also comes with its own worries over sun exposure, overheating and burning. While many strollers don’t do much to combat this and often mean you have to invest in an additional sun cover, the hood of the City Mini when extended fully, shades Evie’s entire body from the sun. The hood is SPF 50+ offering maximum protection and you can adjust it up or down depending on where the sun is hitting or how much coverage you need. And for winter? There’s a additional raincover and footmuff which can be added to the stroller for extra warmth and protection.
Other key features of this buggy include a secret compartment perfect for holding keys and a purse (another tip from Laura in order to avoid taking out extra baggage or losing things at the bottom of your handbag), wheels which can be set to either swivel mode (when navigating an obstacle course pavement) or lock (for longer distance strolling) with front wheel suspension making for a smoother ride, a reclining seat which drops down easily with one touch from the back meaning you can hopefully keep your baby sleeping happily for longer without disturbing them and the ability to turn the stroller into a fully functioning travel system by clipping your car seat onto the front with the extra adaptors.
The City Mini comes in four different colour ways, from this trendy red and grey, to teal, black and steel options, and there’s a great choice of accessories to add on in order to make walks even better – from cup holders to belly bars and a carry bag for travelling.
My only few small reservations with this stroller are the size of the storage compartment underneath (slightly tricky to get a packed changing bag in there, and not great if you always end up buying things every time you venture out), the curved shape of the handlebar (which doesn’t feel as comfortable to push for long distances) and the fact that the handlebar can’t be adjusted in height (me and my Husband are both tall so a high handlebar is a must – although this is something that the City Mini GT offers, so if that’s a big factor for you, you could try that model instead).
Overall though, we’ve been really impressed with both the style, practicality and ease of this stroller and are looking forward to adventuring even more with it. As Laura says; “just because you’re a parent, it doesn’t mean your life needs to slow down.” and Baby Jogger pride themselves on making strollers which can suit the busy active family.
I hope this has given any parents out there some inspiration and helped provide some insight into choosing the right stroller for your every day.