Remember my stroller addiction confession? Well, this is an article I wrote a few years ago about my love for strollers. This was before my acquisition of my Phil and Ted Dash, although I had already spotted it and was trying to convince my husband to let me buy it. In the end I sold all of my strollers except the Mia Moda and got my Phil and Ted a year ago and I still love it! I can't wait to check out Jodi's new explorer but that deserves a post all of it's own!
One of the most essential items in your baby gear arsenal, a stroller can make or break your day. I was bitten by the stroller bug when I started my registry. I was quickly lost in patterns, features and compatibility with what my family(aka my sister) had used. Determining your stroller needs can be intimidating, so lets get started with the basics:
Travel System: This includes a infant car seat, car base and compatible mid size stroller. Most new moms go straight for the Travel System because it seems like a great all in one package. The price for these systems range from $150 to $900. After starting with a Graco Travel System, I quickly discovered that the stroller was too big and bulky for every day use. It was nice to just snap my infant car seat into the stroller and go, but at 4 months my son no longer tolerated strollin backwards and at 6 months, he grew out of the infant seat altogether. I sold the whole system on craigslist before my son reached his first birthday. My "next time" decision would be to purchase a great infant seat with a multi use stroller(like a Phil and Ted Dash or a Baby Trend Snap and Go) that can adapt to a variety of infant seats. While the matching sets are great, functionality is much better.
Lightweight Strollers: This is the stroller that you will use the most. You will keep it in your trunk at all times, travel with it and put some serious shopping miles on it. I have two lightweights that I have loved. The Combi Cosmo, right, in the orange, is great because it has a bump bar with cup holder, a shade that goes way beyond any other lightweight, a super compact folding feature and carry strap that makes it my #1 airport stroller, 5 point harness, seat recline and a great price of around $89. They also make a great double of this stroller that my sister has. It has a great drive and is surprisingly narrow.
I also have the Mia Moda Cielo. This is what I call my James Bond Stroller. It folds up to the size of a large briefcase and fits easily in the back seat. If you don't feel like popping open the trunk every time you make a run to the store, this is great. It has the 5 point but no cup holder for the child and no bumper bar. The bumper bar is nice to have because it creates a boundary for your child and they don't try to climb out every 10 seconds. Still, this thing is awesome. The one hand steering is unparalleled and it can fit down the most narrow of isles.
Umbrella Stroller: plain and simple, they usually run around $20(or up to $130 for a stroller like the McLaren) and have a lap harness, some have a 5 point. This will be the stroller you buy for grandparents or if you really need to travel light. Chicco makes a great one, the Capri, I found one at Baby Depot for $60. It has a nice canopy and 5 point with great handles.
All Terrain/ Jogging Strollers: Picture this: your baby is 6 weeks old, you've just be given the clear to exercise again and you have images of your sporty self running behind your brand new jogging stroller. Next imagine standing in the stroller isle of your nearest Babies-R-Us or specialty stroller store and wondering what the difference is between the $300 contraption and the $160 version sitting right next to it. Let me make it simple for you. If you run or rollerblade, you need a fixed front wheel to keep you going straight. A hand brake and safety strap attached to the handle are essential, while an ipod speaker and adjustable handle height are just plain nice. If you are more of a hiker, fair/ amusement park goer, a free rolling front wheel is what you need. The nice thing is, if you are both, they make a free wheel that will fix when you up the pace. The Jeep Overland was my choice because I do rollerblade. Now, they make a free/fixed wheel, which I would love to have. These type of strollers are bulky and not ideal for everyday use unless you own a Hummer and want to use lifting it in and out of your car as your arm workout for the day. I have a mid size sedan and could easily fit it in the trunk once I popped the rear wheels off. The Ipod player was great but you do have to keep in mind that your child's ears are inches away from the speaker, so no blaring your work out playlist.
There is also a bike trailer/jogging stroller that converts from one to the other. Check out the Schwinn Mark III, I also have one of these but it stays attached to my bike because it is a pain to attach and re-attach. It is great to ride with but remember to put down the plastic rain cover, it will cut down on drag and keep dirt from flying into your child's face. My first trip out with this, I kept the rain cover up and at the end of the ride, my son had a dirt mustache!
So there is my list and opinions. The bottom line is, research, research, research! Go to the store, ask lots of questions, take it for a test drive and be realistic about expectations. PS... there is no need to match your stroller to your pack n play to your high chair to your swing! Take matching out of the equation and get what will fit your family best. And remember, when you are picking out your colors, you may use this for all of your children so stay neutral!