One of the most brilliant inventions of our time are the 7AM Enfant Warmmuffs — cozy, plush gloves that attach right to a baby's stroller so anyone who's pushing the stroller can guarantee that their hands stay warm and toasty. When I first got pregnant and started thinking about baby gear I might need, a friend told me in no uncertain terms that if I don’t register for these, I am doing motherhood wrong. When they came in the mail and I felt how comfortable they were, I realized she was right.
It is absolutely no coincidence that the Warmmuffs, ubiquitous on many playgrounds during the winter, were invented by a woman. “Thank you so much for loving our Warmmuffs! They actually were invented by our founder Rebecca Campora — mom of 3 :) We were the first company to come up with the concept of gloves attached to stroller bars, and now they are seen on every single stroller!” a spokesperson for 7AM tells Refinery29.
Why am I utterly unsurprised that a woman invented these? Because the whole point of them is that there are two mittens that make up the Warmmuffs, meant for people to push strollers with both hands — something that most men just don’t do. Walking through the local park or down the sidewalk, I’ve observed that when a stroller-pusher appears to be a man, he uses just one hand to push the stroller, while his other hand is inevitably either: 1) casually in his pocket, 2) holding his phone up to his ear, 3) holding his phone out in front of him, checking his email, 4) holding coffee or some other drink (secret beer in a sippy cup?).
Why do so many men assume this noncommittal stance, when women (who are still the majority of stroller-pushers thanks to childcare inequality and outdated beliefs) generally use both hands to push their children? At least for cis straight men, the one-hand stroller hold could be an example of “masculine norms,” i.e. the behaviour that’s culturally and socially expected from men. Men are often expected to appear powerful and in control, as well as emotionally detached as opposed to nurturing — hence the disaffected, one-handed hold. (Masculine norms are also why men don’t go to therapy as often.) “American men are subjected to a culture where the standards of masculinity are literally killing them,” says Benita N. Chatmon, PhD, in The American Journal of Men’s Health. (This is likely the same reason men seem to be much more likely to only keep one hand on the steering wheel while driving, instead of sticking to the safer 10-and-2 method many of us were taught in driving school. Sexy in its own way? Yes. Dangerous? Also yes.)
Perhaps all of this is why, on the off chance that I do spot a man pushing the stroller with both hands, I can’t help but admire his stroller game from afar. It seems so refreshing, earnest, and, well, caring that it definitely strolls over into “weirdly sexy” territory, and the man then appears that much more attractive. I have to say I’m a bit conflicted about feeling this way, because I don’t think we need to be so impressed with men for simply doing the least. But I just can’t help but appreciate the nurturing, committed vibe of both hands on the handle. Someone with both hands on the stroller won’t ghost you on Tinder. Someone with both hands on the stroller will cook you dinner five nights a week.
Asked whether men tend to gravitate towards particular types of strollers, Amy Venzke, founder and chief marketing officer of Strolleria.com, said, “Women are typically more concerned about the weight of the stroller and how easy it is to lift into the car. Men sometimes gravitate toward larger, heavier strollers that have taller handlebars and feel more proportionate for them.” This lines up with what I see in the park every day: Despite being heavy, strollers like the UPPAbaby Vista, one of the most popular strollers for 2021, “can be pushed with one hand because it has a great suspension system in both the wheels and inside the frame of the stroller,” as Venzke says. Jogging strollers also tend to be heavier, says Venzke, but are often easier to maneuver.
I asked a couple of fathers I know about their stroller-pushing habits. Chris, 33, who lives in New Jersey with his wife and 20-month-old, says he often uses his jogging stroller, which has pockets and a drink holder, when he runs, and that he’s one-handed on flat surfaces, but uses both hands on turns. He runs with the stroller around two or three times a week after picking up his son from daycare. What does the other hand do? “Other hand is up to maintain running form :),” he responds.
Dan, 33, who lives in Brooklyn with his wife and baby, however, says he is an anomaly: He pushes their 9-month-old two-handed about 90% of the time — “for my OnlyFans page,” he jokes, when finding out what this article is about. For the other 10% of the time, he says he is either using the other hand to drink coffee or on his phone. When asked whether he’s noticed any notable stroller habits among other dads, he says, “Don’t really notice it, tbh.” Well, I notice it — and, from time to time, I like what I see.