Having a Baby in Germany, Part 6: Why can’t we all just get along? (aka Strollers and Carseats)

Drew, Moriah and the stroller battle it out in the rain

A stroller is a stroller, right? Wrong!

Ask most new mothers and they will probably agree that there is a big difference in stroller quality when you compare and contrast various models. Oh sure, it’s not life or death and yes, of course it’s low on the list when you put everything in life in perspective, blah blah blah, but besides all that it’s a pretty important purchase; or, at least it was to us. So important, in fact, that our stroller and car seat combination was probably the single item we spent the most time thinking about in our preparations for the arrival of our daughter. We traveled to at least a half dozen stores to examine models and spent much more time than necessary researching online before we found our particular child toting 4-wheeled monster. I say “monster” because our stroller is just that. The beast is durable and made to last. It’s rough, it’s tough and it’s built to withstand rain, wind and snow, and navigate through all terrains, in fact most German strollers are…

Thoughts on Strollers in Germany vs the USA

Overall we found that, strollers sold in Germany seem to be better made than those sold in the USA. When comparing brands and considering purchasing a stroller in the US, we quickly discovered that the “standard” German stroller would probably fit into the category of “top-notch” or “designer” in the USA. Most are made to last from birth through several years old- and perhaps for several children too- and are sold with various attachments such as a baby bassinet to help transform the stroller as your child grows. You can even purchase a “buggy board” which is an attachment that attaches to the back of the stroller and looks sort of like a mini skateboard. It is designed to be used with an older child, who rides on the board, standing in front of the parent who is pushing the stroller while their younger sibling gets a ride in the stroller.

When you think about it, it makes sense. Like us, many German families who live in cities get by without a car, making a good stroller a true necessity. And, while you can expect an older toddler or preschooler to do some of their own walking, the long distances that we walk on a daily basis as we travel everywhere by foot or public transportation are just too long to expect them to always walk.

The only downside of these better quality strollers is that the price reflects that! Humpf. German strollers are MUCH more expensive that those found stateside. The average price of a stroller in Germany is about 300+ Euros (about $400), not including attachments, accessories (cup holders are sold separately!) or a car seat! Sure there are some models that are a little cheaper, but there are also many more that are much more expensive. This came as a total shock to us, and while we considered purchasing our stroller from the US for this very reason, we ended up getting one from Germany as, in the end, the less expensive US ones, while fine for life with a car, just didn’t stack up for us living life without a car in a city with wet and snowy winters.

The Car Seat Question- Can’t we just all get along?

We purchased an infant car seat along with our stroller even though we didn’t have a car. Silly, perhaps, but we needed to get home from the hospital somehow (and I was neither physically able or willing to take myself and a 3 day old baby on a 45 minute multi-tram trek across the city in December). We also felt safer having one just in case of a medical emergency where we needed to take a taxi to a hospital. And, as it turns out it got decent use! We needed it for our trip to Bremen to apply for our daughter’s passport and there were several times where we were offered rides to church with our little one.

When she outgrew her infant car seat (she’s very tall!), we looked into purchasing a toddler car seat in Germany, thinking we could bring it to the US with us and get use out of it on our 7 week trip back to the states this winter. And then we stumbled across this fact:

It is actually illegal to use a German car seat in the USA.
It is also illegal to use an American car seat in Germany.

Apparently the two countries have different car seat standards and laws and they don’t overlap. This is not only a bit frustrating but also seriously impractical for expats like us. Oh well, I suppose you learn something new everyday.

So, there you have it. In the end we are choosing to do without a car seat in Germany at the moment for our almost one-year-old daughter. We can always change our minds and friends assured us that in a medical emergency, an ambulance would be able to deal, and you can also easily get a taxi in Hannover with a car seat for older babies / toddlers. Good to know.

8 Responses to “Having a Baby in Germany, Part 6: Why can’t we all just get along? (aka Strollers and Carseats)”

  1. Serena writes:

    Hi Lisa,

    I adore your blog. I’m also an American living in Hannover, I’ve been here for about a year, and I’m pregnant for the first time. Would you perhaps like to meet for coffee sometime, so that I could ask you a few more questions about all your baby in German experiences?! It would be such a big help. Thanks!

    All the best,

  2. Alex writes:

    Awesome entry. I am pregnant in Hannover so your blog is very useful for me. The strollers are crazy here! I can’t decide if I should get a stroller that will make it to the States easily or just get a good one for here and find a used one in the States when needed. Thanks for the epiphany on car seats also. Does that count for the infant seats also? I was planning on using that transcontinentally. Ugh.

  3. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    Glad you find the blog useful! 🙂 My suggestion would be to purchase a good stroller for here as that will be the main one you use and, in my (car-less) opinion a good stroller makes a HUGE difference! You can always borrow a stroller, get a used one or purchase a cheaper stroller for when you are traveling (that’s actually what we are doing when we travel this winter). Yes, unfortunately the car seat thing also applies for infant seat- huge bummer right? I’m told that you could probably get away with using one and no one would know, but technically it is illegal. You also need to make sure it can strap into the car in the US as the Latch / Isofix systems are different between countries. Best wishes, ~Lisa

  4. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    Hi Serena,
    Sorry it took me so long to respond! Somehow your comment got passed over and I didn’t see it until now. Congrats on your pregnancy! I’m by no means an expert, but I have “been-there-done-that” and I’d be happy to meet up for coffee sometime with you and offer you whatever advice I can. 🙂 You can email me directly at: lisakeppel@gmail.com

  5. Becca writes:

    I just found your blog and I am enjoying it! My husband and I are moving from Arizona to Weisbaden with our two year old next month. I’m excited and nervous and your blog is great for the learning curve! We plan on having baby number 2-so I was keenly interested in your blogs on having a baby. 🙂 Thanks for all the insight!

  6. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    You’re welcome! Glad you have found it helpful! Best wishes with your move!

  7. dimps123 writes:

    I found your blog and I m finding it really helpful.So you said it is illegal to use American car seat for your baby in germany.So is it also illegal to use american stroller here..German ones are quit heavily priced

  8. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    dimps123- No, of course not! 🙂 Although I agree that the German ones are pricey!

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