This post was initially meant to serve as a stroller-buying guide. I had a vision of a cool infographic with tiered pricing and flashy shots of cute babies in their tiny whips. But then I actually began researching strollers, and determined that I am in no way qualified to espouse real information on the matter until I’ve actually pushed my kid through the streets. I also determined that, like a lot of pregnancy topics, strollers can be highly divisive. I expected passionate responses to conversations about breast feeding, circumcision, co-sleeping, and names, but not about how to stroll your kid from A to B. I’ve talked to moms of one kid, moms of two kids, city moms, suburban moms, moms who own stores that sell strollers—and everyone’s take on the subject is totally different.
From what I can tell, the two biggest factors in making the all-important stroller decision seem to be budget and lifestyle, which, sure, but the sub-categories are subjective and endless. Because the price range of strollers can start at $20 and rocket into the low four-figures, it’s difficult to determine what the true “mid-range” options are. I’m a consumer who likes to start from the middle and work my way out, and I found myself tripped up as I tried to find the true median. Is an UPPABaby Cruz, at $460, a reasonable mid-range stroller? Or am I an aspirational fool who needs to be knocked down a few pegs to a Mamas and Papas Armadillo City Stroller, which retails for $270?
Once you get a handle on the price, you have to evaluate how you live. We’re Downtown folk who much prefer to walk rather than drive. I've lived in the city for nearly 10 years, and it's turned me into such a fast, impatient walker that a very large man once stopped and threw his hands up because he thought I was trying to mug him. So the baby and I will need something agile and compact to get around in, but with enough storage to properly conceal our mugging booty. It would also be nice to be able to duck into coffee shops or meet a friend for a glass of wine, which means the stroller has to be space-conscious. (Read: it can’t piss off any waiters or baby-hating patrons.)
Since this is one of our (if not the) biggest purchases for our baby, and since I, like, respect his opinion or whatever, I asked my husband, Rob, to take a look at my uncharacteristically organized Google spreadsheet. I figured he’d spend five minutes reading Amazon reviews and then point to one. I did not expect him to attempt a full-fledged doctorate on the subject.
Dads, it turns out, get really into strollers. Maybe it’s because the stroller is baby’s first set of wheels, or maybe it’s because strollers are the most industrious and mechanical item on the registry, but something about this purchase is appealing to them. Rob got so absorbed in my stroller search that he left his friend (who had flown in from San Diego to spend the weekend with us) in another room of our house while he ransacked the stroller section of the Internet. His buddy actually fell asleep while Rob compared vlogs of women showcasing features of various stroller brands from their living rooms. When Rob finally came up for air, he was surprised and sheepish, but had narrowed our search down considerably.
After consulting my husband and the sage saleswomen at both Wee Chic in Greenspring Station and Corduroy Button in Kenilworth (they recommend the Stokke Xplory and the Bugaboo Donkey, respectively), I asked my small-but-lovely group of mom friends for their take. One friend, who has two kids under two and lives in the county, said I’m a fool to think I’ll only need one stroller. She listed brands such as BOB, McLaren, Chicco, and Kinder Wagon among her arsenal, and had truly reasonable applications for each one. Another friend, who lives in the city and has one baby, raved about her BOB Revolution jogging stroller. Among its shining attributes, she listed its durability on city streets, its smooth ride, and that you can pop a six-pack in the storage area. This last bit of advice was not pointed out in any of Rob’s mommy blogger videos, so I’m happy to be able to share it with you.
What I’ve learned in my research is that choosing a stroller has proven to be the most complicated pre-birth decision we’ve made. I had sincerely hoped to ramble my way into solid advice by the end of this article, but from what I’ve cobbled together, this is the magic equation for stroller purchasing:
Budget + lifestyle + opinion of spouse + opinion of moms you know + opinion of Amazon reviewers + opinion of knowledgeable stroller salespeople + your own sliding scale of “stroller coolness” = a good start to picking the thing in which you’ll wheel your kid around—that will soon become a moveable pile of crumbs and assorted detritus.