Let’s face it, one of the biggest decisions facing any new mom is what stroller to get. A child’s needs change so quickly – what’s going to be the biggest bang for your buck and stay with you for the long haul?
Well, I’ve got news for you – there’s no quick answer. Your needs and your baby’s needs do change over time – at first you want your precious one sleeping through all of your travels then you just want your toddler contained so he’s not running through the mall like an Olympic track star. What you need is a mode of transportation flexible enough to cuddle your newborn and restrain your toddler long enough for you to get something done!
With my first child, I bought the entire Graco travel system – it was great except that the stroller weighed a ton, and I got pregnant right away with Baby #2. The single stroller very quickly didn’t fit my needs (I did, however, use the infant carrier of that travel system for 7 years and 4 kids!). Looking back, I wished I had bought the less-expensive Snap-n-Go, gotten a few months of motherhood under my belt and figured out what I really needed. After many strollers (my husband very often calls our garage a “stroller graveyard”), I’ve pretty much decided that there is no perfect stroller but there are plenty that are pretty close!
Some of the things you need to think about before you buy that stroller:
How will you use it? Will you be just running to the mall or will you be running 4 miles a day?
How heavy is the stroller and how easy is it to fold? This is one of the most important factors to me. Trust me, there are many times I would rather just carry a baby into a store then haul my stroller out and lug it in. Being ultra light-weight and easily packed up are HUGE pluses. Test it – can you fold it up and put it in the car with one hand?
Are you model-tall or super petite? If so, make sure you check out the height of the handles and whether they are adjustable. Also make sure your hubby tries it out – you don’t want to be the one pushing the stroller with every family outing!
Can the stroller hold an infant carrier? This is a must if you want to use stroller right away. You do NOT want to wake up a sweet baby who would otherwise sleep through an entire Target run.
Does the stroller have good cargo space? This is important for those longer shopping trips or trips to the amusement park. Make sure the baskets are easy to get to and roomy enough to fit a diaper bag and several shopping bags.
Are there snack trays and cup holders? This may or may not be important to you. I appreciate a good snack tray to throw some Cheerios on to quiet a restless toddler but I also loathe a food-encrusted stroller. Some of you neat freaks might not like too many snacks and will be perfectly happy without that option!
Do you have more than one child? Double strollers are a whole other animal – there’s front/back, side-to-side, sit-n-stand. Your children’s ages are a big deciding factor on those.
What about accessories? Do you need a cup holder for your Diet Coke? A sun canopy? Plastic weather cover?
That stroller costs how much? Let’s face it; cost is a huge consideration. Some strollers cost upwards of $500-$1000 making it one of the biggest decisions you’ll make next to the crib. Just remember that just because it the priciest doesn’t mean it’s the best stroller. I had a Peg-Perego double stroller that cost close to $400 that I hated for many reasons!
Here are a few of the newest, most popular strollers out there:
Bumbleride 2011 Flite Stroller ($269.99) – This seems like a great infant-to-toddler option. It has a car seat adapter but is super lightweight and has a great ride. At close to $270 it’s a decent price for a stroller you could have for years.
The First Years Wave Stroller ($349.99) – The reviews on this one are consistently good. I love that it has the Bugaboo-like options of parent-facing or forward-facing without the Bugaboo price tag. It also has a universal infant carrier attachment and a smooth ride. The cargo space seems easy to reach but not that ample. Note there is no snack tray for the baby or cup holders for Mommy’s Diet Coke!
UppaBaby Vista ($699.99 but I found the 2011’s on sale online!) – This one got high marks from my friend in New York City. She loves it because “it comes with a bassinet and toddler seat that can face forward or backward. The bassinet is awesome for newborns because if he falls asleep, you can easily detach the bassinet and carry it wherever you like. If you purchase the car seat attachment, then you can use the Uppa frame to easily pop your car seat on and off, which beats using a Snap N Go because the ride is so much smoother. The stroller also has the option to add a second seat when baby #2 comes along.”
Baby Jogger City Mini Single 8″ Stroller 2011 ($239.99) – This is a great all-around stroller. It’s super lightweight, folds easily and won’t take up tons of trunk space. I love the sunshade, weather protector, and the swivel-or-lock wheels. An infant car seat adapter, snack trays, and other accessories can be purchased separately. If you don’t want to spend quite so much money, the Baby Jogger City Micro Single Stroller ($159.99) is a great alternative.
Infant Car Seat Frames – Many companies sell these – sometimes known as “Snap-n-Gos.” Here’s one example from Baby Trend. They are a great start stroller for newborns. Usually not very expensive, look for infant car seat frames that have great cargo space (to store all those newborn essentials!) and cup holders for parents. These are always lightweight and super easy to fold up one-handed. Since the baby never actually sits in the stroller, this is a great item to buy used since it’s very easy to clean up. Double and triple infant car seat frames are a great option when having multiples! My sister-in-law who just had twin girls loves her double Snap-n-Go because it’s lightweight and easily fits through doorways.
Britax B-Agile Stroller ($249.99) – Britax is a trusted name in car seats so it makes sense that their strollers are well-designed. Love the lightweight frame and fold-and-go design (the stroller locks automatically after you fold it!). It fits Britax infant carriers but requires a separate attachment for other big-name infant carriers. The single handle is nice, but I like two handle bars to hold shopping bags or a purse.
Phil and Ted’s Dash ($549.99) – Although pricey, this one gets high marks for its smooth ride and minimalist design. It’s marketed as being for the “active urbanite” so you’re sure to look chic pushing it! It’s a great option for those thinking they’ll have #2 soon because you can add at second seat without any bulk (although I’d hate to be the kid at the bottom of the stroller!). A car seat adapter and cup holders for parents are sold separately. No snack tray for the little ones, but there’s great cargo space when used as a single stroller.
Maclaren 2011 Quest Sport Stroller ($230) – A stroller list isn’t complete without a Maclaren – these are great, lightweight, reliable strollers. I love the two handle bars for shopping bags and the 12.2 lb frame. The cargo space seems ample enough and easy to reach. This one is suitable for babies ages 3 months and up so it’d be a great option for those with a Snap-n-Go.
BOB Revolution SE 2011 ($449.00) – BOB is an awesome running stroller, and I’ve seen some people use it for mall trips. It gets high reviews consistently online and was a favorite in my informal poll among fellow Charlotte moms for its easy handling and smooth ride. If you’re a runner or walker, and your budget only allows for one kind of stroller, this is definitely one to check out. A car seat adapter, snack tray, and other accessories are available at an additional cost. I love the multi-position canopy and seat pockets for toys and snacks. One drawback to using it as your all-around stroller is the 25 lb weight.
Chicco Liteway Umbrella Stroller ($149.99) – I had to add this one because I have the 2004 version and still use it today for my toddler. Although it can’t be used for a newborn, it’s a great all-around, sturdy umbrella stroller. Very easy to push with one hand, high handle bars for taller parents, and enough cargo space to make it through a normal shopping trip. This thing has gotten some mileage from us – I’ve taken it all over Charlotte, NYC, DC, Disney World, and more, and it’s still kickin’!
Bottom line: ask around and spend some time researching online or through books. And don’t be afraid to hit some consignment sales and Craig’s List – the fact that a mom’s needs change is universal. Many used strollers are in great shape simply because a mom suddenly needed something different. Happy strolling, Smarties!