• Sat, Sep 14 - 11:00 am ET

Giant Baby Strollers Are Destroying America

51d47uuImXL__1379166439_142.196.156.251Okay, so maybe they’re not destroying America. But they are turning many parents into enormously entitled jerks.

A family wrote in to Inside Scoop SF this week to complain about an unfortunate incident they had while attempting to dine out with a stroller. They arrived at a restaurant at 6:15 pm. Since they were unwilling to take the baby out of the stroller, there was only one table in the entire restaurant that would accommodate their party of four plus the stroller. They agreed to wait for it.

The staff, clearly annoyed with this situation decided to backpedal and offer the table to a different party of three. Family with stroller is pissed. Family with stroller asks party at table if they will switch tables with them. Party of three agrees. Restaurant manager gets so irritated with the situation – she/he kicks party with stroller out.

As someone who has spent a lot of time working in restaurants, I can tell you with some degree of certainty that this was a giant stroller. If it wasn’t, there would be more than ONE option of where it could be parked. Parents – never, ever assume that a restaurant will be able to accommodate your stroller. You’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. There’s nothing more annoying than a family that saunters into a restaurant and looks at the staff like, Hey. Here we are. You better figure out where to put our giant stroller, because we refuse to take our baby out of it.

Here’s the thing; if your baby is too small to exist outside the stroller, he’s small enough to be in a carrier strapped to your chest. If he’s too big too be in a carrier, he’s big enough to be in a booster or high chair. Period. Yes, it’s much easier if your baby can sleep soundly in a stroller while you enjoy your meal; it’s a pain in the ass to cut a steak while a baby is strapped to your chest. But, too bad.

It’s also worth mentioning that whoever made the decision to offer this party the table, not give it to them, and then kick them out – is a total dolt who should not be in the service industry. The family should have been informed when they arrived that the restaurant would not be able to accommodate the stroller. You don’t agree to something you don’t really want to do and then allow yourself to become so annoyed that you completely over-react and throw out customers. That is not customer service – and it did not need to get to that point.

Parents – don’t expect restaurants to have space for your strollers. Restaurants – be clear about what you can and cannot accommodate from the get-go and don’t be total jerks about it.

(photo: Amazon)

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  • Justme

    Your last statement sums it up pretty succinctly.

    Personally, I couldn’t WAIT for my daughter to be out of her carrier and into a high chair, or then from a stroller to walking on her own.

  • LET

    I’m actually kind of glad I bought way too big of a stroller when I was pregnant, and had way too small of a trunk. It wouldn’t fit in my car, so I never used it. Guess what? I survived. I carried or wore my baby places, or I just used the carseat if there was space in a restaurant. I actually think it was a lot easier than lugging around a giant stroller (which I ended up pushing empty half the time, anyway, because my son would fuss & I’d end up carrying him & still pushing the stroller).
    I actually use my umbrella stroller now more than I used my infant stroller. My son is 4, but he’ll occasionally fall asleep in the car, and I’ll just gently transfer him to his umbrella stroller & go about my business. Hubs & I even got an adult only dinner the other night because the kid slept through the whole thing! lol. I don’t feel bad about taking an umbrella stroller into a restaurant, because it can easily fit where a chair goes & doesn’t block servers or other patrons. I always ask if it’s okay, anyway, though, just to be polite.
    All that said, yeah, there’s a lot of entitlement that I see by parents. If I bring my son to an adult place (any restaurant other than a family specific restaurant), I expect to deal with the same accommodations everyone else gets (no extra room for strollers, possibly no kids menu, the expectation that my party will be quiet). If I can’t function with that, I don’t go there. On the flip side, I see a lot of entitlement from non parents, too, in that the expect their desire to never see a child out in public (so it feels like)…that’s not a realistic expectation of a public place, either.

  • Andrea

    Am I the only one that LOATHED giant strollers while parenting a baby? They are a pain in the ass. For you and for other people.
    When my kid became mobile, out of the stroller he went. He either walked or we didn’t go. The only exception to this was the airport even though that was an even more gigantic pain, but we couldn’t help it: we had to travel by air to attend a funeral.

    • keelhaulrose

      I’m glad we’re done with the giant stroller. I still, very rarely, use an umbrella stroller, but that’s for quick trips into places where my daughter’s habit of having to stop and examine every rock she finds will make me run late.

    • Véronique Houde

      I was warned by all of my friends to avoid a big stroller like the plague. I’m glad I listened!! We found a stroller kit (with the carseat) that was small and light enough to be convenient, with all of the advantages of a big stroller. I definitely use it everywhere… except for in small restaurants!!!!! ;) Any parent should be aware of the shear idiocy of insisting on having a stroller inside a tiny space where people are running around with hot plates, drinks and glass.

    • me too

      Ooh, can you please post a link?

    • Véronique Houde
    • AugustW

      We have a teeny umbrella stroller for trips to places I don’t want her running around and touching stuff (Best Buy) and a gigantic hiking stroller that goes, well, hiking, and the dog park.

      Restaurants? The kid walks. Lol.

  • NicknamesAreDull

    It kinda irritates me that these people took a huge stroller to a restaurant at such a busy time. When my daughter was small, we always ate dinner a little earlier so we didn’t have to deal with crowds, if Kathleen cried, she would bother less people while I got ready to go outside with her. I’m not suggesting that these people should only hit the “early bird” specials, but when a restaurant is at a peak time, it’s going to be harder to accommodate you with little to no prior contact. If they had called before, it would have been a completely different story.

    In the main article, the author compared the stroller to a wheelchair and I disagree with that. Wheelchairs are necessary, strollers are luxuries.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      Agreed. The wheelchair comparison is ridiculous.

    • Andrea

      I heard that comparison before and I think it’s bullshit.

  • Evelyn

    We tried the whole pram-that-can-also-be-a-car-seat-and-pushchair monstrosity with our first child but we tended to put him in a sling thing for cafes or keep him in the car seat if we came by car. I don’t think we ever did an evening meal in a restaurant with a baby, we only really felt comfortable inflicting a baby on lunch time diners as everything is a bit less formal then. I am not saying there is anything wrong with taking a baby out for an evening meal in a nice restaurant, just that it wasn’t something we felt comfortable with for ourselves. Soon after we switched to a lightweight pushchair that folds up very small (so small it fits in the bag holding shelf of a bus or even under our feet). I hated using the big pram / pushchair ‘travel system’, even in its pushchair mode it was far too bulky when you are trying to navigate crowds and live in a tourist city and we tried to choose the smaller of them.

    When I did go out for lunch with what I called the behamoth I always asked the staff politely if they had room for it and if the didn’t I politely apologised and left, not taking it personally and not getting huffy. It really isn’t fair to make other dinners feel cramped and make the waiting staff struggle to go past it.

  • Courtney Lynn

    Why is a stroller in a restaurant at all? The only time we use a stroller is if we’re going to be walking around.

    • CW

      Be thankful that you have a typical child rather than one with special needs. Not saying that this family did have a SN child, but you cannot make assumptions.

    • Courtney Lynn

      How do you know I don’t have a SN child? Kind of an arbitrary statement, I think. We don’t know that the child wasn’t SN, but I’m sure if they were, it would have been mentioned. This is about entitled people who want to invade more space than necessary and don’t care who they bother (other patrons).

    • CW

      If you had a SN child, then you wouldn’t overgeneralize from your own particular family’s situation. Just because YOUR child is capable of sitting in those backless restaurant high chairs doesn’t mean that ALL kids can.

    • Dr. Apothecary

      Those restaurant high chairs do have a back. I’m not sure what you’re talking about by calling them backless. We’re not making kids sit on stools here.

      If you have a kid with a disability, you can explain that at the restaurant. If you’re kid can’t sit in the normal high chairs provided by restaurants (as you say somewhere else in this thread), they do make foldable high chairs that attach to normal dining chairs. That sounds like a better option than trying to fit your gigantic stroller in various tiny restaurants in a big city.

    • Dr. Apothecary

      Oops. I’m posting too late at night. That should be *your kid.

    • CW

      I’m not sure which restaurants you’re going with high chairs that support the child’s back and have 5-point harnesses like a regular high chair does. All the ones I’ve seen at restaurants only go up to the child’s waist and have a lap belt.

    • Dr. Apothecary

      Then bring your own. There are options. Here’s some, even a few with 5-point harnesses:
      http://www.homemade-baby-food-recipes.com/travel-high-chairs.html

      If your kid has an issue that 99% of the world or more doesn’t have, you can’t expect the world to change for you, even with the ADA. My mom when dying from cancer had a disability that made using most public restrooms difficult. She dealt with it, as there weren’t many other options. She also realized that it would be hard to get her wheelchair into places at times, and that is something we would bring up with an establishment, as it affected more people. She had the option of using her cane or walker when she was feeling okay, so she sometimes would.

      I realize raising a kid with a disability is hard. But you seem very upset and defensive when you may have other options. Even if you didn’t, no sane person would group you with people who have big strollers who can easily take their kid out but would rather block walkways for convienence.

    • Courtney Lynn

      I don’t disagree with that. SN children should be accommodated. I don’t think anyone here is disputing that. I think if the child in the article was, in fact, SN that is what would be addressed rather than the family being unable to bring in their stroller. Discrimination against SN people IS an issue. Lazy parents are not, except for the people they annoy.

    • Rachel Sea

      Special needs strollers don’t look like the giant buggies with which entitled prats bash around other people.

    • Paul White

      Sometimes I stop in at a restaurant while I’m walking around, particularly when I’m visiting family in Ruidoso or Houston (where you park at a lot god k nows where and walk to the various places you need to go from there).

    • Courtney Lynn

      Yeah, that might have been what they were doing.

    • EmilieS

      Erm, some of us have to “walk around” to actually get to the restaurant. You know, because we don’t drive.

    • EmmaFromÉire

      erm, some of us know to fold the damn thing up when we get in.

    • Rachel Sea

      Or leave it outside, locked up with a bike lock.

    • Courtney Lynn

      That’s cool. Like others have said, you can fold it.

  • Tea

    And giant stroller people seem to always be the ones who get really
    cross that I tap it with my white cane when I’m out with my partner, or give a
    friend of mine dirty looks when she asks them to move a little so she
    can squeak her wheelchair through.

    And the wheelchair comparison just infuriates me. No. Just, no.

    • CW

      Special needs strollers usually do look like oversized regular strollers so you cannot assume that the family with the giant stroller are snotty jerks rather than folks who can empathize with the challenges of living with a disability. Though families of SN kids would presumably be all apologetic if the stroller were blocking the path of a wheelchair (at least I personally would be).

    • Tea

      I only assume jerk when someone flips out or gets huffy because the visually impaired person touched an obstacle with their cane, which happens all the time with strollers.

    • Gangle

      What is wrong with people!?! I would never have thought people would be so horrible over someone with a visual or physical impairment walking through a room

    • Tea

      It wasn’t as bad in the area I used to live in (the midwest) But is much worse in New England, where a lot of people have space issues and tend to live in “bubbles”

      I also use a NFB long white cane, which I’m not sure everyone knows is a cane for the blind. http://dsq-sds.org/article/viewFile/1373/1537/3631 They’re much more versatile and responsive than the short aluminum cane a lot of people associate as being for the blind.

      I try to assume it’s just ignorance or else I start to lose faith in humanity.

    • Rachel Sea

      Maybe it’s because I’ve always been near a Guide Dogs for the Blind facility, but that’s the kind of cane I’m used to seeing – though sometimes it’s red and white.

    • Tea

      That honestly makes me happy, because I’m a big NFB supporter, and those canes are so much more practical than the small, folding aluminum ones. Some people have been really baffled by it, though.

    • Rachel Sea

      Those people sound to be lacking in thoughtfulness. Even if the folding canes are what they are used to, what on earth else would such a cane be for? No one who is not visually impaired feels along walkways with a stick.

    • Annie

      Yes, that’s the kind I’m used to seeing as well.

  • Cee

    Of course this happened in San Francisco. I used to love taking roadtrips up there before, but it is slowly being taken over by entitled yuppies. I’m not surprised the person answering if the parents were right sided with them and made the wheelchair comparison. *sigh* Oh what have you become San Francisco?

    • Emmali Lucia

      San Francisco and Brooklyn are completely overrun by totally entitled yuppie parents

    • Cee

      Whyyy?! *weep* They whine about everything that was there before them and want things to bend to their will, make rent expensive and local people so angry.

      The other time I stayed in San Francisco, I was talking to an older bartender and he was telling me how his rent was getting even more ridiculous than before thanks to influx of yuppie (most likely tech) parents moving in. I felt so bad for him :(.

      Unrelated: Then an older drunk lady hit on me in front of him, it entertained both of us. lol

    • Rachel Sea

      SF has been filled with entitled people forever, but most of those people are not parents. Most people move elsewhere in the Bay Area when they have kids, because it’s too expensive to live with them in the city. Tourists, however, often have kids, and they can be godawful.

      Rents are expensive because of limited space, high demand, and greedy investors.

  • keelhaulrose

    The zoo we go to has a few dining areas where the tables are very close together, especially when it’s colder and they put more tables inside to accommodate the people who don’t want to sit out in the cold. Each of these dining areas have well marked stroller parking, as do many of the exhibits. Never freaking fails that there’s someone with a gigantic stroller who refuses to leave it in the stroller parking, and have to block the very narrow passages with their monstrosity. There is once I had to walk outside to get to the other side of the dining area because all three walkways were blocked by giant strollers. My husband complained to one family because he had two trays and didn’t want to take them outside, and they said “would you leave your stroller out there with no one by it?” His reply “Yep. Mine’s right there. I don’t feel entitled to block everyone because I’m too lazy to keep an eye on it through the window.”

  • Rachael

    Just remember that sometimes a giant stroller is carrying a special needs or injured child who normally would not be in a stroller. Much like being able to accommodate a wheelchair, restaurants should be able to accommodate at least one huge stroller. It’s no fun pushing one of those around, but sometimes it is a necessity. No need to judge people. And to say you wouldn’t or didn’t take a baby to a restaurant…..you are better than me. Sometimes you just don’t want to effing cook or clean, and sometimes you need to get the eff out of the house.

    • CMJ

      Wheelchairs and strollers are not the same thing. They just aren’t. Additionally, there is a difference between having a child that has a medical necessity to be in a stroller and these parents who are clearly just entitled whiners.

    • CW

      I’ve got an autistic child who does MUCH better when strapped into her SN stroller than when I try putting her in one of those backless restaurant high chairs. She is generally well-behaved in the stroller but totally hit-or-miss in the chair. Now if restaurants had high chairs with backs and 5-point harnesses like a regular high chair, that would be a different story.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Oh totally. I think that if there was a medical reason for the stroller in this story, the parents would have made it glaringly clear.

    • Courtney Lynn

      Special needs is a whole other discussion and absolutely should be accommodated. Entitled, lazy parents who bother other patrons? No.

    • Rachel Sea

      If a stroller is being used as a wheelchair, all the parents have to do is say so, and they are covered by ADA. Most giant strollers do not meet the requirements of special needs kids, and the strollers which are designed to meet those requirements don’t look like the monstrosities entitled prats push around.

  • Véronique Houde

    I do think that these parents are idiots for insisting on keeping their child in that monstrosity of evil. However, I have to say that the restaurant is at fault here, only because they said one thing and then back-pedalled, making these people waste their time waiting for a table that would never be given to them.

    • OhHeyDelilah

      Yep, I have to agree with you there. I worked in hospitality for years so I know what entitled assholes people can be – I once saw a woman trying to push her double stroller through a clearly too-small gap between two tables where people were eating lunch, and when it wouldn’t fit she just stood there and banged it relentlessly against someone’s chair leg in an effort to get them to move – you know, rather than saying ‘Excuse me’. Ugh. But, it’s also pretty unreasonable for staff at the restaurant in this story to offer this family the one table that can accommodate them and then just give it to someone else.

  • AlexMMR

    My double stroller for my twins is ADA compliant. Since it falls within the physical dimensions of a wheelchair, businesses are legally obligated to be able to accommodate it. Now whether or not the accommodating tables are available at the time I’m there is another story, obviously a wheelchair takes priority, but yeah, the physical space for my stroller to get through must be available. If my stroller doesn’t fit, a wheelchair won’t fit either.

    However, we have avoided several restaurants simply because the tables are packed in rather tight and the stroller would be difficult.

    • CMJ

      Actually, they aren’t. Strollers are not covered under ADA…so even if it CAN fit it doesn’t mean a business is legally obligated to accommodate it.

      ETA: If the child has a disability and needs the stroller then it is covered under ADA per 24 CFR 36.302. The new regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) brings strollers under the umbrella of the ADA if used as a mobility device for a person (child) with a disability. If a stroller is used as such, then 28 CFR 36.302 requires the public accommodation make a reasonable modification assessment.

    • AlexMMR

      You misunderstood my meaning. What I meant is that if an establishment can accommodate a wheelchair (as is required), my stroller will fit into that space. Would I put my stroller in that space and make someone in a wheelchair wait? No, I personally wouldn’t as I can make other arrangements whereas someone in a wheelchair can’t.

      I meant that the dimensions of the stroller are the same as a wheelchair, not the legal protections or moral prioritization of a wheelchair. But, if there is no place where my stroller would fit, than someone in a wheelchair who also would not fit and they would have a valid legal complaint (though I wouldn’t).

    • Ptownsteveschick

      I don’t know why exactly you are getting downvoted. Your meaning makes sense, not all restaurants are ADA compliant since I have been in many where there is almost no space between chairs when it is busy! But I also wouldn’t try to take my stroller in there either.

    • AlexMMR

      I think people are thinking that I’m claiming the same rights for my stroller that one would have for a wheelchair. I’m not. What I’m trying to communicate is that

      1) if I can take 2 babies in a stroller small enough to fit in the se space a wheelchair would occupy, what the hell are people using that takes up a ton of space? Damn those are some oversized strollers! And…

      2) if my stroller can’t get through, then a wheelchair can’t either. My complaint about it could be shrugged off, but if someone in a wheelchair came in a minute behind me, THEY would have a complaint that could land the establishment in hot water.

      Sheesh! I didn’t realize I’d be so hated for knowing my strollers dimensions in comparison to a wheelchair. My high school sweetheart was in a wheelchair and I remember what a pain in the ass some establishments were for him.

    • Rachel Sea

      ADA requires that restaurants can accommodate wheelchairs, not that they can accommodate them at every table. Limited ability to accommodate a wheelchair is an extra reason not to allow strollers, because diners with disabilities should not be made to wait for a party with a stroller who could have been placed in a non-accessible table if they left the stroller outside, or at home.

  • Gangle

    While the restaurant is definitely in the wrong for backpedaling at the very last minute, this family acted like entitled jerks about the whole thing. Apon realising that the table that was promised to you has been given to another party you most definitely have the right to complain to management for terrible service and storm out angrily. You do *not* have the right to approach diners and ask them to move just to accommodate your own group. You. Just. Don’t.
    The email also suggests that the guests had dined at this restaurant previously, so it is reasonable to assume that they knew the layout of the dining area before going out. If you know that the place you wish to dine at has limited space for things like giant prams it is up to you to ring ahead and make sure they can accommodate you. Book the alcove earlier in the day and let them know you are bringing a pram so they can prepare the table for you. Don’t turn up right at 6.15 when the restaurant is packed and expect the world to bend to you.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    I’m not saying these people aren’t jerks, but I don’t get all the stroller-hate. We live in a big city, and don’t have a car, and the kid still has a midday nap, so on weekends, we pretty much have a stroller with us all day because we spend the whole day walking everywhere (on account of not having a car). I will admit that we have a small, lightweight stroller (relatively small – it’s not an umbrella because those don’t recline) because we needed something we could carry up and down the subway stairs, but yeah…we use a stroller. A lot.

    I don’t think we’re entitled or shitty about it. But who knows…sometimes I feel like the mere existence of my kid is pissing someone off.

    When we go to restaurants, we ask them the best place to put the stroller and then we put it there. I try to keep it out of people’s way, and if we can avoid taking it on public transit, we do (because we prefer to walk anyway) but sometimes the distance is just too far. But yeah, it sucks feeling like just being out with a stroller is pissing people off.

    An old woman on the subway last week gave me the cut-eye and I heard her launch into a diatribe (I’m guessing she meant for me to hear) to the person she was with about ‘lazy’ kids using strollers when they can walk. I’m really not sure what I am supposed to be doing with my kid as an alternative. She naps during the day, and yeah she can walk and we encourage her to walk as much as possible, but if we’re out for the day walking 5-15km, that’s a hell of a lot of walking for a 2 year old, and where would she nap if we didn’t have a stroller? I’m genuinely asking here because I don’t know what other people do.

    • Rachel Sea

      People who use strollers the size of a small car, who use them as rolling playpens, who cram their kids into them when they are way to old to need them (and don’t have special needs), who bash them into the legs of other pedestrians, expect to be able to bring them everywhere, are too entitled to lock them up outside, and who generally act like big fat jerks, ruin it for everyone.

      You sound like you use your stroller reasonably.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      Well, I think so….but the people who act like big fat jerks probably think they’re being reasonable too. I dunno.

  • salemthegoddess

    I’m an American living in Germany and you can always spot an American by the giant stroller. Strollers are for babies and when German children are old enough to walk they are expected to walk. There are no other options. When German children are at a restaurant they might sit with a booster seat but that depends on whether the restaurant has booster seats, and many of them do not have these. Otherwise, children sit at the table next to their mothers in chairs.

  • Kim A

    The bigger the stroller the bigger the a$$****

  • Guest

    Clearly the author of this article, and many of the commenters, do not live in pedestrian-oriented urban areas. It’s great to criticize the giant strollers when you have the luxury of driving your oversized SUV or minivan to the restaurant and parking in a space right outside the door, but try walking a couple of kilometres or taking public transit with a baby in a carrier, plus all of the accessory crap you have to tote along with baby. And no, you can’t just “leave the stroller outside” when you live somewhere where it rains or snows half the year. Have a little bit of compassion and understanding, people.

    Of course parents should always call ahead to make sure the stroller can be accommodated (as these people DID, I should point out), and if possible, it’s nice to offer to fold the stroller up and stick it in some out of the way area, but I think the only people out of line here were the restaurant staff, who promised to accommodate the stroller, then went back on their word and also acted like a-holes about the whole thing.

  • koolchicken

    I realize this is old but some of this bugs me. I have the stroller pictured, it is big but is designed to function like a highchair. The handlebar can be positioned so it’s on the floor under the table and it slides up to the table taking up less space than a chair.

    My son was a preemie, and a sick one. He was in the bassinet until 8 months. Could he have fit into a carrier, yes. Would it have been a pain to try and eat with an 8 month old strapped to my chest, no, it would have been impossible. He was also on solids by then. So we propped him up on my lap and fed him his purees and breastfeed before putting him back into his bassinet. Now I realize not everyone has a sick baby, and it was crazy that he went from barely being able to hold his head up to standing (kid you not, it was like two weeks). But sometimes the big stiller exists for a reason. And we always tried to be considerate and eat at off peak hours. Not everyone with a monster stroller is a jerk but people who assume I am one just because of what I’m pushing are.

    Also, I had a really tough time with my c section. I used that thing like a walker for a very long time. I’m surprised it held up so well with me leaning on it the way I did. But I needed to use it, wearing my son was not an option until just a few months ago.