Expert tips for caring for your stroller and your baby when temperatures drop and winter storms come to town
Written by Mia Weber
Just as driving in inclement weather requires extra caution and a different maintenance routine for your car (and maybe even additional equipment, depending on where you live), navigating the elements of winter with a stroller and a new baby is a totally different game than summer strolling. The good news is that there are some easy best practices and insider tips for caring for your stroller, safely strolling in nasty weather, and keeping baby safe and warm that are a snap to integrate into your routine.
Choose the Right Stroller
The first order of business for setting yourself up for a smooth first winter with your new baby is to make sure that you choose a stroller that makes sense for the area you live in. If you live in a milder climate, you might not have to be concerned with how well a given stroller model will perform on a slush-covered street. But if you live in an area known for extreme winter weather, let the stroller that you register for reflect that.
“My No. 1 tip is to make sure that you have the right stroller for the climate that you live in,” says Jen Saxton, founder and CEO of Tot Squad, a company that offers stroller and car seat cleaning service and a virtual marketplace for specialty baby services. “So, when you’re doing your registry and shopping for a stroller, if you’re living somewhere that has a lot of ice and snow, consider getting one with bigger wheels…something that has the ability to navigate icy streets and inclement weather better.” She also notes that if you select a stroller with air-filled tires, make sure to check the air pressure more often than usual during the winter, so you may want to consider foam tires if you know you’ll be braving the cold regularly.
For parents living in rural or suburban areas—where they are using their car most of the time while out and about with baby—having a solid everyday stroller with an easy compact fold is key for chilly days when you want to get in and out of the car as quickly as possible. Larktale’s Coast Stroller (which is appropriate for use with a newborn) is super-compact and lightweight; and Larktale’s Chit Chat Stroller (for ages 6 months and up), is a great everyday stroller that also proves oh-so-easy to fold and store—both options allow faster transitions from home to vehicle to street and vice versa, as well as minimal space in the car required. This means less time spent standing in the cold, and more room for groceries, additional gear, and other family members in the car.
Regular Stroller Maintenance & Cleaning
Taking care of your stroller and investing in regular cleaning is always a best practice for keeping your wheels in working order and getting the longest lifespan that you can out of what is likely your most expensive piece of baby gear.
“A stroller is a big investment, so you want to make sure you take care of it,” Saxton, who is also mom to a 14-month-old baby, says. “You’re getting your oil changed on your car every three months—and you should be servicing your stroller even more, especially if you’re in [a big city] where you use your stroller even more than a car.”
When snow, ice, and slush hit the streets, so does salt. Not only is it important to clean dirt and mud off of your stroller (which you should be doing all year round), but in the wintertime, it’s essential to rinse off salt from your wheels and stroller frame in order to prevent damage. “If you’re not rinsing and cleaning it on a regular basis, you have a high risk of rust, which can damage your wheels or your stroller frame,” Saxton adds. “You can bring your stroller to [a service provider like] Tot Squad for regular cleanings, or you can hose it down on a regular basis to make sure you’re removing the gunk that’s building up in the wheels. I’ve seen wheels that are rusted on to the stroller frame, and the whole thing becomes totally useless because you can’t even remove the damaged wheels to replace them.”
Another maintenance consideration to keep in mind is that it’s important to keep the fabric clean after being outside in snow, rain, or slush. The fabric of both of Larktale’s strollers can be very conveniently wiped off so the footwell area can easily be cleaned up after salty, slushy boots have rested against the fabric—or it can even be tossed in the washing machine.
Proper Harness Use
When it’s cold outside, an obvious safety concern for a baby is that they’ll get too cold, or that you aren’t properly bundling them up against the chill. However, there are also safety concerns to be aware of any time baby is strapped into a harness (of either a car seat or a stroller). Puffy jackets and blankets, when used under a harness, can actually hinder baby’s safety.
“Baby should never be in the car seat while wearing a puffy jacket under the harness. The reason is, if you’re in an accident, especially if you’re walking on an urban street—you can trip, you could hit something, anything can happen—those puffy jackets create a lot of slack in the harness system, which means that the baby could be ejected from the car seat,” Saxton advises.
“You want to make sure that when they’re riding in the stroller, you have the harness tightly secured—and what that means for keeping baby warm is that your puffy coat or blanket should go on over the harness,” she adds. “I recommend that you put baby in the harness in their regular long-sleeved outfit and pants, and then put the jacket on backwards over
them like a blanket with sleeves…you never know when you might trip or hit something with your stroller and flip it over, so you just want to make sure that your child is properly secured in there.”
When it comes to keeping baby nice and toasty, investing in a few seasonal accessories is always a good idea. In addition to warm hats, socks, and winter-worthy outfits, look into snapping up a high-quality footmuff (Larktale makes a great one for the Chit Chat or the Coast) to put on over the harness while baby is in the stroller, a rain cover (Larktale makes one that protects against high winds, as well as against rain and snow, for both the Chit Chat and Coast), stroller hand muffs (we love the selection from 7AM Enfant), and an over-the-door stroller hanger for storing your stroller when the wheels are wet or muddy and you don’t want them touching the floor in your home (Saxton recommends the StrollAway by Dreambaby).
And if you’re really intense about accessorizing for the snow, it is possible to get special ski attachments for some strollers—but if the weather outside is so frightful as to warrant skis for safe navigation, you may want to take that as a sign from the universe that staying indoors for the day might be the best course of action. As Saxton says: “Winter is a good time for nesting!”
To learn more about Tot Squad, and their stroller cleaning and repair services in LA, NYC, and Washington DC, visit totsquad.com!