When James and I finally finished our apartment hunt last winter and signed our lease, people who we told about our new place were considerably less shocked by the fact that we would be living in a one bedroom apartment with a baby on the way than the fact that we’d be huffing it up to the top floor, sans elevator. Thankfully, I had a sister in the city—doing the same thing with a toddler—to show me the ropes.
Some of you have written to ask for the verdict now that we’re a few (five!!!) months in. Here’s the how-goes-it, and few tips for surviving life in a walk-up with a baby.
1. Invest in a super-simple carrier. I’ve mentioned before that we use this Baby Bjorn and that we love it. But for times when I was trying to get Faye out of the house when she was really tiny, I felt like I needed something less bulky (and that she would fit in before she hit the recommended eight pounds for the carrier). The Baby K’tan that I borrowed from my sister Cait was crucial. It’s a cloth baby carrier sling that doesn’t require any tying or readjusting and it can be looped onto the stroller handle or tucked into a bag really easily. It’s super, super simple to use and I loved that I didn’t have to worry about any kind of bells or whistles when maneuvering Faye up and down the stairs in those early weeks.
2. Embrace the bare necessities. No surprise, I fall into the camp of less is more when venturing out of the house with Faye. Yes, there are lots of things that can be helpful when you have a baby. But there’s also a lot of stuff that can end up being a burden if you have to lug it around yourself. More often than not, we’ve simply decided against using something because not having it felt simpler than having it. By way of example:
a. We never toted Faye around in a car seat. Car seats are heavy. And there was no way I was lugging baby + car seat up four flights. So we stuck to the wearable carrier instead—and the stroller once she was big enough. (We borrowed a car seat for her inaugural taxi ride home from the birthing center.)(Three cheers for borrowing.)
b. When I bring Faye to my sister’s place for babysitting (she’s five flights up), I choose what I bring carefully. So far I haven’t worried about chill packs for frozen milk, or special blankets, or more than a tiny toy or two. I bring only as many diapers and wipes as I think she’s gonna need. No disasters so far.
c. When I’m bringing Faye to the grocery store, or out for only an hour or two, I don’t bring anything with me at all. Sacrilege? Sanity. There’s only so much weight I can carry on my person, and for me these short trips feel like delicious freedom.
3. Don’t sweat the stroller. We’ve loved our umbrella stroller. It stands on its own when folded which means it’s easy to stash in our downstairs hallway. It’s lightweight which makes hauling it up and out of our building manageable, but it’s still too heavy to haul up four flights regularly (we keep it locked to the banister downstairs…). The other two babies in our building have much (much) larger strollers. They’re super heavy, but they have wheels large enough to bounce up and down the front steps where the brakes on our stroller wheels get in the way of doing this. Across the river, my sister Cait recently swapped her lightweight umbrella stroller for one like this after finding it on Craigslist. It’s awesome for toddler naps, definitely heavier to haul up the front stairs, but it closes up to be small enough to keep in a very narrow hallway so that she doesn’t have to lug it up to the top floor. Are you exhausted yet? Here’s the takeaway: There is no perfect stroller. Get one you can afford, that fits in the space where you need it to, and that you like the feel of. And then ask (or beg) your landlord for permission to stash it downstairs (or just take your chances and do it anyway.).
4. Vigilance. My nephew runs everywhere. Five flights up is a scary place to let the little guy loose, and so he doesn’t get let loose. We hold his hand. We carry him when we need to. Back at our place, four flights up is equally scary. I have no intention of ever letting Faye into the hallway by herself. I tend not to be too much of a scaredy cat, but some things are just not worth it.
NOTE: Parenthood pretty much means exerting maximum effort most of the time. There is not a single product or rule of thumb that’s going to make living four or five flights up easy, but these are a few tips for making it easier.
More baby proof, HERE.
Photo from James’s instagram account.