Product review: Metro Compact City Stroller by Ergobaby

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Discovering the Metro Compact City Stroller by Ergobaby, a super light and very compact stroller for babies 12 months and older

When our daughter became more mobile with her crawling and initial clumsy cruising and walking attempts, it came with a change in our needs with regards to her stroller. While beforehand the only focus had been on her sitting comfortably, having great suspension, with the capacity for the back rest to recline all the way down to a laying position, our lifestyle changed and we went on more trips that involved the car to discover more parks, I took public transport more often to go to parent-kid cafés on rainy days and I also took more trips to visit people who live in other cities. In short, a lighter, more travel-friendly solution was needed without having to compromise on the comfort of my child. Then, I got the chance to do a product review of the Metro Compact City Stroller by Ergobaby and immediately fell in love.

Click here to check out the stroller on the Ergobaby website.

This stroller weighs only 14 lbs./6.3 kg. This allows you to effortlessly lift the Metro Compact City Stroller by Ergobaby into car trunks, upstairs/downstairs and literally anywhere else you may need to go. This was a great plus for me, as I live in a city and use the subway often. Whereas I used to feel kind of trapped when the elevators were out of service and didn’t feel comfortable balancing a bulky stroller on an escalator, it was very liberating to have such a lightweight stroller by my side that I am able to carry upstairs with my daughter in it without having to rely on someone else’s help, which may or may not be available.

It folds to be extremely compact and actually fits into the overhead compartment on airplanes. Or, the much more common everyday situation: you can take this stroller into a café or are able to place it in the wardrobe area of a restaurant without it intruding on anybody (yeah!). That’s great news for anyone who ever had to leave their stroller outside a venue while it was raining. The Metro Compact City Stroller by Ergobaby really squeezes into the tiniest spaces. So, if you have to store your stroller in your home or are visiting friends or family and want to avoid blocking their entire hallway with a bulky stroller, this is a great solution.

It comes with an integrated handle that enables you to carry it like a bag and to do so with ease. So, if you are ever faced with the situation of having to carry your child in one arm and the stroller in the other, the Metro Compact City Stroller by Ergobaby is perfect for that. That’s actually one of the features I quickly learned to love about this one, as our daughter is a hyperactive ball of energy who will wiggle relentlessly when you pick her up until she is back on the ground and can resume all those very important exploration tasks she seems to have on her never-ending to-do list.

Now, I hear there are babies and toddlers that have the patience to stand or sit next to their mom while they unfold the stroller without giving in to their great curiosity and instantly taking off. My daughter is NOT one of them. The second her tiny feet touch a solid surface, she is on the move. There is just too much to see, to discover, to touch, to ever stand still and wait. Normally, you will need both of your hands to fold or unfold a stroller of any style. Not so with the Ergobaby. You can hold your energetic child in on hand and fold the stroller with the other. Game changer!

If you are in the market for a compact, light stroller like this, you will soon discover that most of them make you compromise in terms of how adjustable they are. The Ergobaby doesn’t. The back reclines all the way down into a full horizontal position and the leg rest adjusts as well. We got the stroller when my daughter was 10 months-old and would instantly fall asleep after we walked home from a parent-kid-café or a mommy meet-up. Therefore, being able to lower her from a seated to a comfortable sleeping position was very important to me in order to allow her to have her much needed down time.

This brings me to the multi-zone padding of the stroller. Again, you will be very pleasantly surprised by the cushioning this one offers. I would say though that while the suspension is certainly better than with other comparable products, it is still less than with larger, bulkier strollers, so you will definitely have to compromise here. Again though, if you compare it with strollers in the same category, it is definitely superior. This is why I would recommend using this stroller from month 12 onwards and not as your very first buggy/seated stroller when your baby is around 6 months old (even though Ergobaby advertises it as such), as it would put too much pressure on the back at that age. It is probably also not the right choice to take on uninterrupted, multi-hour walks. Though I have to yet meet a one year-old anyways who patiently sits in the stroller for several hours without getting itchy feet. Since my daughter turned one, I have almost exclusively relied on the Metro Compact City Stroller by Ergobaby and have not once regretted it.

I know, so far it sounds like I am wearing my rose-colored love glasses. There are, however, also a few downsides that I would like to mention. The biggest one is probably the buckle system. Ours broke twice, both times at the exact same spot, around the button you need to push to open the harness. Customer support luckily replaced it both times and were really helpful. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones with this challenge, as I was told they were updating the buckle system.

Strollers in that weight category are typically not suitable for silently sneaking up on people. So, if you wanted to integrate that into your secret second job as a spy, forget about it, as the wheels are a bit noisy when you push the stroller. However, since that seems to be the case with all strollers in this weight category, I wouldn’t hold it against Ergobaby, simply because it is by far superior to other lightweights in terms of its compact size when folded and its comparatively great back support.

The storage basket is roomy in theory, but in reality it is a little challenging to stuff any larger item underneath it. So, I had to compromise in terms of my ability to use it for going to the grocery store and storing all the shopping underneath the seat. The stroller makes up for it with a back pocket with a zipper, which allows you to store your diaper changing kit or water and snacks.

This is also not the right stroller if you live in snowy Alaska, as snow gets easily stuck between the wheels and in the wheel suspension system.

Pros of the Metro Compact City Stroller by Ergobaby

  • Lightweight (14 lbs/6.3 kg)
  • Ultra-compact size
  • High maneuverability
  • Fold and unfold with one hand
  • Full recline and adjustable leg rest
  • Surprisingly ergonomic and back-friendly (multi-zone padding)
  • Large sun canopy
  • Back pocket with zipper
  • Backpack for the stroller for traveling or storage

Cons of Metro Compact City Stroller by Ergobaby

  • Buckle system
  • Suspension in comparison to larger, bulkier strollers (hence I wouldn’t use it before the child is at least 12 months-old)
  • Wheel noise (though on par with strollers of that style by other brands)
  • Small storage basket
  • The wheels could be thicker and more robust

Stroller product review summary

This is a great product if you are in the market for a stroller buggy that is light and compact enough to lift in and out of your car with ease, travel with (by train, plane or car) and if you need to carry the stroller upstairs. I would, however, only recommend it from age 12 months onwards due to the suspension. All of the cons I listed are more or less typical for strollers of that style; however, they are mostly cons compared with larger, bulkier strollers. Compared to other lightweight, compact strollers, the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller is definitely the primus inter pares amongst all of them and my absolute favorite.

If you are currently pregnant and searching for your first stroller, click here for my stroller checklist on how to find the best solution for your family and here on tips for getting mobile.

Disclaimer: The product was provided for free for review.

Oh baby, baby: Reindeer christmas cards with baby feet

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With Christmas just around the corner, we all get busy searching sending Christmas cards and gifts to our loved ones. The beauty of having a baby or a toddler at home, gives you an abundance of opportunities to turn Christmas cards into a fun afternoon activity to do with your mini-me(s). Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, is an all-time favorite of mine and he also serves as the theme for this cute holiday greeting.

The making of the card takes about as long as the song “Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer” and thus makes sure, that the short attention span of a baby or toddler is not maxed out. Thereby you create a win-win-situation. Unique and personal Christmas greetings that keep the holiday spirit in your home intact without any emotional breakdown from the little ones, when things take too long and keep them from their otherwise busy kiddy agenda of running around, getting into things or making chaos in the house.

I love this card, because it doesn’t only create a very personal card that especially grandparents will love, but it also gives you the opportunity to create a cute little memento of the size of your munchkins feet that year. Baby footprints are otherwise we typically only take when the mini-me is still a newborn, but it is a nice reminder of how much your little one has grown to do a foot print once a year.

What you need to make one card

  • 1 baby or toddler
  • Thick paper card
  • Braun finger paint
  • 1 red pompom per reindeer
  • 1 pair of joggle eyes per reindeer
  • Glue
  • Black marker

Since little children are not exactly known for their patience and (especially if they are younger than 2 years) a certain inability to stay in one place for long, I recommend you set up camp in the bathroom or on a large blanket that you don’t mind getting any color stains. Otherwise you might add an involuntary new style element to your home in the shape of brown little footprints on your floor.

I recommend using finger paint for this activity as it’s easy to remove from your child’s foot and is also not a health hazard as these products are generally child friendly.

Apply the paint on one naked foot using your finger and then let your mini-me put their foot down onto the Christmas card. It’s easiest, if you let your child stand up for this as it gives you more control and the footprint is then also applied onto the paper more evenly.

After you let the paint dry, draw the reindeer antlers with a thick black marker. The face of the reindeer is the ball of the foot, therefore start adding the antlers half an inch/1-1.5 centimeters below the toes.

Next apply glue to the red pompon that will become the reindeer nose and glue it right onto the middle part of the footprint. Then, glue the eye joggles next to each other in the middle of the ball of the foot.

Aaaand you are done.

If you have more than one child, why not simply have an entire group of reindeers on your card, one per child. It will look super cute with all the little Rudolphs in different sizes.

P.S. With all this “hard” work to create unique and cute Christmas cards with your little ones, you should treat yourself to some cookies and eggnog. Click here for my Christmas specials with healthy recipes for low carb, healthy recipes that help you make the most out of the season without creating calorie-related regrets later.

How to lift a baby without wrecking your spine

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Prevent back pain when lifting a baby or lifting a newborn

I felt like writing about how to lift a baby, because so many moms and dads do it wrong and thereby do their backs a big disservice and potentially create chronic future pain in their spine or even herniated discs. While many might read this and think: ‘come on, lifting a baby is a no-brainer’. You’d be surprised, because it actually isn’t, especially when it comes to lifting a newborn.

As parents, it is important to have each other’s backs, but we should have our own backs too – literally. We are all only given this one body and there is no replacement when you have wrecked the original. So we should treat ourselves kindly, as kindly and loving as we treat our children. This includes to prevent back pain and back injuries.

While most people learn at some point that it’s important to lift heavy or larger objects by bending your knees and NOT your back, all of this seems to be forgotten when we move to this new cool place called “the parenthood” and it comes to lifting a baby.

Why lifting a baby the right way matters

So often when I see parents at playgrounds lift their children off the floor, I see them bend their upper spines and have to cringe a little. Not because I am Super Mom and know it all, quite the contrary, but because I have been there too. I had this inexplicable pain and stiffness between my shoulder blades that never seemed to fully go away, no matter what I tried.

It hit me, when I was once again leaning down to scoop the little one off the ground. The pain in my spine was a desperate attempt to call for help!

In a worst case scenario (besides tearing or straining your back muscles or irritating your joints),the wrong technique when it comes to lifting a baby can even lead to shifting your vertebrae out of alignment. While this might be rare, back pain certainly is not. Not for parents, neither for society as a whole as we all tend to constantly pick up stuff from the floor without doing it safely.

While this movement of bending your spine in and of itself would not be a big deal, it becomes a problem when you add a serious bit of weight to the equation. Yet, we never equate a baby or a newborn with serious weight. They are a wiggling weight though which thus intensifies the pressure on your upper spine.

Think about it! Would you randomly lean down and pick up a 17-22 lbs (8-10 kg) dumbbell or a bag of cement? Even once? Or 25 times a day? Probably not. No. Certainly not. You would stop and think, ‘wait, this is a serious weight’. Therefore, you want to keep your back straight and your feet shoulder-width apart, then bend your knees and lower yourself into a squatting position and lift by stretching your knees and engaging your leg muscles.

How to prevent back pain when lifting a baby

To prevent back pain, the key to lifting anything off the ground (including lifting a baby) is to keep it as close to your body’s center of gravity as possible. The same needs to be your goal every time you attempt lifting a baby! Thereby, you take pressure off your back and your spine and shift it to where it belongs: your powerful leg and buttocks muscles.

The positive side effect of this: not only do you prevent back pain or injuries, you also secretly train your leg, buttocks, lower back and pelvic muscles as you will probably easily do 25 to 30 squats with weight (your baby or toddler) a day. For that, you don’t even have to set foot in a gym 😉 On top of this, your “training” will gradually intensify as your baby grows heavier. A win-win situation for your body.

So keep this in mind time when your little one flings his/her arms around your legs and wants to be picked up, especially as the right lifting technique comes with one big perk: you and your baby can hug on the way up.

How to lift a baby

Prevent back pain when lifting a newborn

Now all this is fine and dandy, when it comes to how to lift a baby that is already a couple of month old and can sit, crawl or walk, but it does get a bit more tricky when it comes to lifting a newborn. Though the key to lifting a newborn is essentially the same: bend your legs, not your spine, even if you pick your mini-me up from their stroller or their crip.

It might seem so much easier and less intensive to just bend down and lift them. In fact: it’s not. Try to treat lifting a newborn like lifting anything else, even if it makes you feel weird at first, cause it feels slightly unnatural. Just keep in mind, it is in fact the more natural way to do it. Anything that helps you prevent back pain is natural. Things just tend to feel weird, if they are not yet routine for us.

If you still end up with random neck and shoulder pain, there is a simple and effective 5 minute excercise to release neck and shoulder tension.

Mental check-in dice as a powerful mindfulness exercise

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Roll the dice towards mental wellbeing with the mental check-in dice

In many ways, happiness is a choice. While there are of course events in our lives that make us fail to see the bright side in it (like the loss of a loved one), there are little things in every single day that can trigger a smile on our face or make us laugh.

We choose what we allow to be the predominant moment or theme of our day and our life.

By emphasizing the negative events and their impact on us, we give them power and that power can literally overpower our experience as human beings, if we allow it to. It negatively affects our mental health. Likewise, if we emphasize the positive moments of our day, they become the defining factor.

We all know someone who is always unhappy with something or another – whenever one “struggle” or obstacle that bugged them is removed, you can be darn sure that another one awaits for them around the corner. At the same time, we also usually have this other friend, the one who seems to radiate joy, even though they recently had their leg amputated and their favorite pet just passed on. We never question the endless struggle of friend number 1, but always tend to question the sanity of friend number 2, even though they have it right.

Life is what you make of it and it is certainly too short, no matter how long it lasts, to sit there in misery.

Mindfulness: Find the spark of positivity in everything you do

Optimism and gratitude are an antidote to unhappiness. Sadly, however, so much in our world tends to focus on a negative outlook, the challenges we face and bad news. The prime example of that of course is the topics media tends to highlight and report on. Leaning towards negativity is deeply human – after all, we are a vulnerable species in terms of our ability to fight predatory animals and we lack a thick fur to protect us from the cold (weeeeeell, maybe not all of us). In order to make provisions for the challenges of tomorrow and ensure our primal survival, humans worry.

Unless you worry about where to find a shelter for the night and where your next meal comes from, take a step back and do a comprehensive accounting: is life really a struggle or is the lack of your favorite breakfast cereal in the pantry maybe just a minor inconvenience that does not really impact your day? Or maybe, just maybe, this small deviation from your standard morning routine meant that you randomly discovered that a smoothie is also a great kick-starter to your day and you would have never known this blessing, had you not forgotten to restock on your cereal.

In a nutshell: life is a matter of perspective.

Mental check-dice to reflect on your day

While positive thinking is great, positive talking is even better. We are, after all, a deeply social animal. Enter the mental check-in dice or reflection dice. I came to realize that sometimes we need a little support to get us talking about the things that really matter in life and the things that we usually tend to think about before we fall asleep and thus do it in isolation.

The mental check-in dice as a powerful mental health exercise and mindfulness tool allows us to verbalize our thoughts and share them. Sharing our thoughts with those closest to us builds an emotional bridge and reinforces connection. It allows us to be open, to gain another perspective on things, to talk, to listen, to partake.

The principle behind the mental check-in dice as a mental health exercise

The idea of the dice is really simple. You take turns and every person at the dinner table rolls the dice and answers the question or finishes the half-sentence written on the side of the dice that faces upwards. Do one or two rounds each session and make it part of your family dinner tradition each evening.

I strongly encourage you to try this even if you live alone, because you get the same positive effect from it. If you do this just for yourself, consider still saying your answer out loud. Speaking is a powerful tool to feel connected, even if “connected” in this case means being connected to ourselves, which is the most important connection we will have in our lives anyways.

Also don’t shy away from using the mental check-in dice as a mindfulness and mental health exercise when your kids are still toddlers. They tend to be brighter than we give them credit for and are much more in touch with their emotions anyways. Besides, kids love routines and this mindfulness excercise shows them that expressions ones feelings and emotions matter in your family.

How and where to start this mindfulness journey

Click here for a wooden dice to write your sentences/questions on. Choose one that is at least one inch/2.5 centimeters in width. Thereby you have enough space to write.

Since a dice has six sides to it, it gives you the opportunity for six different questions or sentence fragments to finish to add to your individual mental check-in dice. Down below you can find a list of various suggestions. Choose those that work for you or simply use the ideas below as inspiration to brainstorm your own.

I recommend to focus on positive or hopeful content for the cube sides, although it can be great to include one question or sentence that gives the person rolling the mental check-in dice the chance to also talk about things that were challenging in their day or that worry them.

While it is good to put emphasis on positive aspects, it is equally important to allow yourself/your partner/your family, to voice things that negatively impacted their day to either find the positive spin by reflecting on that moment or to simply just get it out of your system regardless.

Questions/Sentence parts:

  • Today, I am grateful for…
  • My best moment today was…
  • This made me smile today:
  • This made today great:
  • This made me feel optimistic today:
  • This made me laugh today:

Neutral or “emotionally open” options:

The idea behind these suggestions is to give the person whose turn it is to roll the mental check-in dice the opportunity to voice thoughts or events that negatively impacted them, but keep them open enough that they do not trigger default negativity (e.g., a challenge can be a negative, but also a positive or neutral experience, like overcoming an obstacle/finally solving a math problem in school/managing to run 5k, etc.).

  • This challenged me today:
  • Today, I thought about…
  • Today, I felt…
  • Today, I learnt that…
  • Today was…
  • This impacted me today:

Alternative mental health exercise options

If you feel uncomfortable with the mental check-in dice or do not find it feasible for you, consider a one-line-a-day-journal as a mindfulness activity or mental health exercise. It’s super simple and takes almost no time as there is no need to pour your heart out.

Simply write down the one word that sums up the positive of your day. You will have two effects from this. You will end each day with a positive feeling (and isn’t that the best way to wander off to dream land anyways?) and you will see how good your life actually is whenever you flick through the pages, a great pick-me-up when you are ever feeling blue. Click here for such a journal to guide you through your day, year and life.

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Highly effective pelvic muscle exercise after birth using your stroller

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An effective pelvic muscle exercise is a powerful tool on your journey to regaining your strength after birth

Imagine your pelvic muscle like an oversized pair of granny panties. It is literally shaped like a pair of underpants and thus holds your entire lower body in position. It is like a sling holding up the uterus, bowels, and other organs. Most commonly, when people talk about this, they only refer to the pelvic muscle floor, when it actually is more than just the floor and does indeed extend to your core.

Like any other muscle, if it is weak or not adequately trained, it fails to keep up with it asigned tasks. In the case of the pelvic muscle being too weak or weakend can result in incontinence or sexual challenges, but most importantly can cause permanent pain in the lower back. A weak pelvic muscle area actually affects BOTH men and women alike as we age. Yet it is rarely ever talked about with regards to men. Though the effect of pregnancy is certainly way more significant.

In short, giving this muscle a bit of attention is a very valuable cause, especially after having a child as the hormones released during the 9 month prior stretch and soften the pelvic muscle in order to prepare the body for birth. Therefore it pays off to dedicate some time to any type of effective pelvic muscle exercise.

Prioritize your health with an effortless yet effective pelvic muscle exercise

Like always, every woman is different and while some can still go for a run until the very late stages of pregnancy, others (like me) suddenly notice that the pelvic floor becomes soft pretty earlier (thanks hormones, grrrr) and you are unable to ride your bike already halfway through the “build-your-own-baby” journey. No matter which type you are, what unites us all is the need to give this muscle attention postpartum to bring it back up to it’s pre-baby-strength.

The challenge with the pelvic muscle is rooted in the fact that most people are unable to consciously tighten or flex that muscle. That is why this article features a super simple yet highly effective pelvic muscle exercise that helps you to naturally and subconsciously tighten and release that muscle and thus train it. Another great pelvic muscle exercise is actually hula hoop. Check out my article reclaiming your body with hula hoop to learn more.

While most new moms are aware that they need to strengthen the pelvic muscle postpartum, a lot of us feel at a loss on how to approach this. This rings especially true, given that there is this new tiny human that demands our attention and it feels impossible to squeeze in an exercise routine, because we feel exhausted, because it feels selfish to do a work out instead of cuddling our mini-me 24/7, because we don’t actually feel ready or strong enough to exercise, because we don’t know where and how to start.

This is why, this highly effective pelvic muscle exercise is so amazing, as it actually doesn’t feel like an exercise and doesn’t even require any extra time or attention. Yet it is actually pretty effective.

What you need to do? Go for a walk

All you have to do is, take your baby for a walk in their stroller and instead of pushing the stroller like you normally would (with the palm of your hands facing downward), turn your hands sideways, so your palms face upwards when you push the stroller, just like in the picture above.

If you only carry your baby, instead of using a stroller, use the grocery store cart for this effective pelvic muscle exercise every time you go shopping, It’s the exact same mechanism at play.

Now why is that an effective pelvic muscle exercise? By turning your hands upside down, you naturally push your arms and shoulders back when you push an object any by having your shoulders in that position you autumatically activate and tighten the pelvic muscle area in order to be able to push forward.

Don’t worry if it feels akward at first. You will however realize after 5 minutes of pushing the stroller like that it is actually pretty tiring and challenging even though it doesn’t look like much. Only ever do as much as you can without exhausting yourself. It is better to have several shorter sessions than pushing yourself over your limit. Besides 5-10 minutes are perfectly enough per day.

A powerful baby steps journey to recovery

It’s not about crunching in hours and hours of exercise as regaining your physical strength is not a race against anyone (including yourself), it is a baby steps journey of recovery. A routine that you can start at any time of motherhood whether your baby is 6 weeks or 6 month old or whether you discover 2 years later that your pelvic could indeed do with being stronger.

The beauty of this effective pelvic muscle exercise is that you are doing something you would do anyways, going for a walk with your baby or running errands in the grocery store (if you use a shopping cart). By just altering this process a tiny bit (by changing the position of your hands), you do not have to make any extra time for a workout, you integrate your workout into your every day routine.

And I guess we can all agree that as moms we really do not need extra stuff added on top of being someones mom that adds additional pressure. Simply because we can’t help but feel like we failed at being supermom, if we yet again didn’t manage our workout for our pelvic (like Pilates or Kegel exercises). Thereby you manage the workout by integrating into something you do anyways and don’t let the workout manage you and especially you don’t allow supermom pressure you rule over your self-esteem.

Most importantly, never forget: Whatever you do and however you live your life, love yourself fiercely and treat yourself kindly!