Before we had James, we lived in a brownstone that has had stairs. We loved the apartment but it a) wasn’t the most baby friendly place and b) trying to navigate the stairs with a stroller, dog and maybe groceries or diapers seemed like a nightmare. Ultimately we ended up finding a place nearby that made more sense for our growing family and moved right before James arrived. However, we spent a lot of time researching how to navigate stairs with a stroller. This came in handy when the first few months of living in our new place, the elevator continuously broke and I ended up hoofing it up and down two flights of stairs with a stroller anyway. And mind you, city living gets you pretty good at stair lugging — they’re everywhere — museums, subways, friends places, restaurants, you name it.
So now that I have lots of experience, here are my top tips for getting up and down stairs with a stroller.
If you know you’re going to be dealing with stairs on the reg, invest in a good baby carrier.
I often found wearing James to be much easier than dealing with the stroller and stairs, small aisles, snow etc. Plus, he tended to sleep better (or sometimes only) that way. If you’re nervous about carrying the baby down the stairs in the stroller, the carrier also comes in handy. You can strap the baby to you, leaving both hands free to carry the baby down the stairs. I would only recommend this though if you feel safe and able to carry both without falling of course. We loved the Baby Bjorn and it felt extra sturdy for when you’re carrying the baby and other things.
Carry one at a time.
Do not risk your or your baby’s safety to skip a step. Your baby is far safer in its crib or pack n’ play while you carry the stroller down the stairs and then come back for the baby. It’s a pain, but think of it as helping to shed the baby weight minus the gym.
Test drive to find a super lightweight stroller you can carry up and down the stairs.
But sometimes you just need the stroller and some moms, wearing the baby isn’t an option. That’s why I highly recommend getting a super lightweight stroller. There’s no way around it, the big convertible strollers like UppaBaby and Bugaboo etc are great, but they are big and heavy af. It takes two of us to carry our UppaBaby Cruz (which is the lightweight one) up and down stairs when it’s all out (when it’s folded we can carry solo but it’s still heavy). So for travel, we go with the carrier or umbrella stroller. There are plenty of lightweight options now that fold up and are easy to carry so you can either a) fold it up, sling over your shoulder or back and carry the baby in your arms or b) grab the sides and carry it up with the baby in it without killing your back. The YoYo is a popular option and one our friends in a fourth floor walkup use. We test drove it and it’s great. Navigates easy and is sooo light. People who have to hoof it up and down stairs or travel a lot also love the GB Pocket stroller, which is also super travel friendly and seems perfect for walk-up apartment living — it folds up super small. We have the McClaren umbrella stroller. What I love about it is that you can fold it up, carry it over your shoulder and then, carry the baby in your arms. People love the UppaBaby GLite for the same reason — we went with the McClaren for cost tbh, but my friends who have the GLite love it.
Go one step at a time.
If you’re going down the stairs, you want to go forward. Put the stroller on its back wheels and ease it down one stair at a time — the front wheel shouldn’t touch the ground until you get to the bottom of the stairs. If you’re going up, you want to go front wheels first with the back off the ground. Again, I would only do this if you feel safe and if you only have a few, not super steep stairs like the four stairs going up to your Brownstone type deal.