Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Never fear, the stroller goddess is here...
What do I personally like in a stroller? I prefer umbrellas to all else. They are easier to collapse, take up less room in your car/house and depending on the brand will be tricked out with every feature you could possibly want short of a built in DVD player (I'm working on THAT design, by the way). I am a fan of extendable leg rests for babies 18 months and under - it is more comfortable for their little legs and can help them relax enough to lay back and sleep. I need a decent sized basket, comfortably high handlebars and an overall aestecially pleasing design (I AM a stroller whore, afterall).
What don't I like? These huge, overblown travel system situations put out by manufacturers such as Graco and Evenflo. WAY too much plastic stroller stuff. They take up too much room in the biggest SUV and can be a bear to collapse. New parents (myself included years ago) assume they need an all-in-one contraption, that the infant car seat MUST snap into the stroller. Not so, my friends. Let's roll up our sleeves and dig in.
A great lightweight umbrella stroller: You would be hard pressed to find a better, all purpose, run-it-into-the-ground umbrella stroller than the Maclaren Volo. Weighing a mere 9 pounds, it is suitable for infants 6 months - 40 pounds. You can collapse it easily and sling it over your shoulder, stuff it through the security X-ray at the airport or schlep it up 2 flights of stairs on a NYC subway, kid strapped inside. It doesn't recline or have an extendable leg rest but the seat is generous and comfortable. The handlebars are a comfy pushing height for a 5'4 mom or 6'2 dad, an improvement over cheaper umbrella strollers. You can't go wrong with this stroller. Prices range $100-$130 depending on retailer.
Other worthy umbrella candidates:
- Silver Cross Micro Stroller. Nearly identical to the Volo but with a more comfortable, padded seat. Also has a pocket for a bottle/cell phone in the sun canopy. Wheels aren't as durable as the Maclaren. Prices range from about $100-$150.
- Zooper Salsa. Has 2 recline positions, weighs 11 pounds. Nice stroller. Price about $120.
Lightweight-Midweight Strollers: I am torn between two for this title. Duking it out are the Maclaren Techno and the Peg Perego Pliko. Both are umbrella strollers, have extendable leg rests, 4 position reclining seats, good size baskets/pocket storage, sturdy easily turning wheels, adjustable handles and an attractive design. The Maclaren has a larger sunshade/canopy covering more of the baby and has reflective piping making it visible to cars at night. It also has street cred as THE stroller for urban moms.
The Peg Pliko has a padded front bumper that can accomodate most brands of infant car seats. This feature is HUGE in my opinion and one of the main reasons I recently purchased a Pliko over a Techno. The other great thing about the Pliko is the built-in footboard for a toddler to stand on while you push another child in the stroller. My son is too independent to ride in the seat but loves to stand on that footboard while I push his sister. It's awesome. Prices are about the same for both (about $300 at most retailers) but for a stroller that addresses all of your needs from a newborn in a carseat to a toddler, my money is on the Pliko.
Other worthy midweight contenders:
- Maclaren Quest. Has nearly all the same features as the Techno but about $100 less - a great stroller and you still get the Maclaren name/quality.
- Inglesina Zippy. Very similar to the Peg Pliko, has the padded armbar and toddler footbar. Also features a patented one-hand folding system that is quite sexy. About $300.
- Chicco C5. Similar design to Maclaren Quest for half the price. The fabric is rough (in my opinion) and it doesn't turn as well as the Maclarens or Pegs. About $90.
Midweights to stay away from:
- Fisher Price Infant to Toddler Stroller. It looks like a Bugaboo but soooo far off the mark. Don't be fooled by the pretty design - this stroller is only approved to hold infants up to 25 pounds (read the stroller carton not the store signage). The seat is very difficult to adjust, it turns poorly and at a price of $250 do you really want to spend money on a stroller your baby may outgrow before their first birthday? Nah...
Double Strollers: I owned the Peg Perego Aria Twin and Maclaren Twin Traveler and got rid of both when I discovered...drumroll please...The Safety First Transit Tandem. Based on the hugely successful British version (the Marco Sky), this is a double tandem stroller on a single umbrella frame. Weighing in at 27 pounds (and this is good for a double), it features a generous canopy, adjustable handles, a rear seat that reclines nearly flat for an infant and a front seat with extendable leg rests, padded arm bar and snack cup for a toddler. But the numero uno reason I LOVE this stroller? It's a breeze to push. It's a double that handles like a single, narrow enough to scoot through aisles and doorways and turns beautifully even when loaded with humanity. The only drawback is the storage basket - it's a joke. You could fit a bottle in there and that's about it, no kidding. But with SO many positives outweighing a piddly basket, this one is a no-brainer and my favorite double yet. I have even inspired several Tales girls to purchase this model. Retails for between $120-$150.
Doubles to stay away from:
- Peg Perego Aria Twin. Though marketed as a lightweight double stroller, it just feels flimsy and has a terrible turning radius. The canopy is a joke (it covers about 1/2 of your baby's head) and becomes impossible to push if your kids are more than 5 pounds apart (mine were about 20 pounds difference, so forget it - the stroller will pull to the side of your bigger child regardless of what you do). I ditched this stroller after 8 months.
- Compass Tandem Umbrella Stroller. This one is trying to be like the Safety 1st Transit Tandem and fails miserably. It is much bulkier than the Safety 1st, the seats are lumpy and uncomfortable (you can really feel the bars of the stroller in the rear seat) and while I was testing the stroller it kept collapsing - YIKES. I have yet to see consistent good reviews for this stroller. Pass it up for sure.
Plush (ie: money isn't really an object here...) If you don't mind hauling some of these out of your SUV (size and weight are factors for some of these listed here) and you don't mind parting with some serious cash (come ON, these are strollers) than one of these may be for you. Here are a few favorites that always have me drooling when I see them on the street.
- Bumbleride. Oh, just so pretty. HEAVY...but so pretty. Loaded with features and because not too many people have it, you'll stand out at the playground. This will set you back almost $400.
- Valco. A plush carriage on a jogger stroller frame with an independly turning front wheel. One of the ultimate urban-sometimes-I-go-offroading- strollers. Between $400-800 depending on model.
- Stroll-Air. Same idea as the Bumbleride but even MORE plush. These strollers come with everything but the kitchen sink...but you'll pay for it. Again, oh so pretty...droooool. These will set you back from between $600-$800.
- Bugaboo. Our list wouldn't be complete without listing Bugaboo. It's nice and comfortable, and the base will accomodate and infant car seat. Plus you'll look like all the other stylish celeb moms out there. But starting at $800, make sure you REALLY want it...
Jogger Strollers. I have no expertise with these and so I don't feel comfortable passing judgement on what works and what doesn't. If you've found the greatest jogging stroller ever, fess up and let's hear it!
There are TONS of strollers and systems out there (the bulk of the uber cool ones are made in Europe - those people know how to make strollers), and although I have owned nearly a dozen, I haven't even scratched the surface. This guide is only as helpful as your comments, ideas and experiences. So feel free to throw your stroller expert hat into the ring - let's find the best stroller for everyone.