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New York City parents have a love-hate relationship with their strollers. On one hand, the stroller is an absolute necessity for getting kids from point A to point B while also multi-tasking as a portable crib, makeshift highchair and a schlepper for transportation of myriad items (from groceries and baby gear to small pets and large musical instruments).
(***Note, this story was first published in September 2014.)
On the other hand, strollers—yes, many families require more than one!—are heavy pieces of equipment that are a challenge to haul in and out of an apartment, a hassle to store and a nuisance for neighbors. Here, why they can bug and how to deal:
SIZE (AND TYPE) MATTERS
For many New York City parents, one stroller isn't enough. A large one offers good storage and solid wheels for neighborhood walks, shopping and use in inclement weather and a lightweight version is perfect for quick jaunts and subway travel, suggests Giggle, a baby gear store with several locations in the city. If you have more than one child within one to three years of the first, you might need another stroller to accommodate multiples. And don’t even get us started on contraptions for newborns (which often include car seats and separate rolling bases).
Before buying anything, consult BrickUnderground's guide to the best strollers for NYC apartment living, and consider the type of building you live in. If it’s a walk-up or brownstone with many stairs to navigate, you’ll want something small and lightweight. If you have an elevator, a full size stroller and/or a folding umbrella stroller should do.
Your building is your home—one you share with neighbors—and not everyone wants to deal with kids and their gear, so it’s simply polite to make your stroller as inconspicuous as possible.
- When entering or leaving your building, give your un-strollered neighbors the right of way. They’ll appreciate the courtesy and may even hold the door open for you.
- Upon entering an empty elevator, wheel your stroller into a corner and attempt to leave space for other passengers who may load and unload after you. If the elevator is already peopled, consider waiting for the next empty car. Your fellow residents will appreciate not being squished and may be more inclined to ignore the next hours-long tantrum emanating from your apartment.
- Don’t clutter hallways, lobbies or other common areas with your stroller (or the strollers of visiting pals). Besides being rude, it’s a fire hazard and against the law (see below).
- Finally, if you plan to have many friends with strollers over (say, for a birthday party or other celebration) ask your doorman or super if the extra strollers can be left in the lobby (and maybe slip them a little something extra as a thank you). Also, alert your neighbors in advance of the traffic jam.
STOW IT AWAY PROPERLY
When Emily, a mom of two living in a third-floor walkup in Harlem, tried to stash her stroller in a ground-floor space between staircases of her building, she was told that it was a fire hazard and that it would be disposed of if found there. When her neighbor and friend tried to do the same, her stroller was promptly thrown out without any further warning.
To a New Yorker with kids, the issue of where to store the stroller is a major one. Some apartment buildings—co-ops in particular—have stroller policies built into their house rules that stipulate exactly where and how many strollers can be kept in the building’s public areas, not to mention who is allowed to store a stroller at all. (Visiting friends may be out of luck.) In buildings that lack such policies—including many rentals—the rules are a bit murkier, so check with your landlord or management company before staking claim to any free space.
In a perfect world, you might park it in a designated stroller room off the lobby or in a common space on each floor. However, despite the broad array of amenities luring tenants to family-friendly buildings—tricked out play spaces, cold rooms for Fresh Direct deliveries, in-unit washer/dryers—one of the most basic, stroller storage, is in seriously short supply.
A storage room might work but, as one Upper East Side doorman points out, there's often a waitlist. The hallway outside your apartment door, stairways, staircase landings and—need we even mention—fire escapes are also out since obstructing an egress is a fire hazard and a building code violation that could result in a fine ($600 for a first offense!) your building will likely pass on to you.
That leaves the inside of your apartment, which isn't exactly ideal since a) a stroller that’s been out on the NYC streets is filthy and b) no one wants to look at the thing when it’s not in use. But a deep closet, preferably near the front door of your apartment makes a nice stroller garage—especially for a large or double stroller (add that to your wish list when apartment-hunting). If that’s not an option, consider a MetroTots StrollAway. Invented by Mary Anne Malone, a NYC mom with three kids and a small apartment, this over-the-door hook can be placed on almost any door and holds folded strollers up to 40 lbs.
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