stroller panic..
July 11, 2008 9:56 AM   Subscribe

Completely overwhelmed with choices of stroller and looking for recommendations. Specific requirements inside.

Your opinions on strollers, please (this thread is kind of old and we have different requirements). We're looking to buy a stroller and it needs to be done reasonably soon as I'm 32 weeks pregnant. I've looked through a few sites but it's hard to find a decent algorithm that throws up good recommendations and of course, personal recs tend to be really valuable.

* It will be used A LOT because we live in Manhattan and walk pretty much everywhere (no car), so it has to be reasonably sturdy
* suitable for newborns (ie. has to recline). Although we will be trying to rely a lot on a sling or bjorn in the early days - IF she takes to them which is not a given
* would prefer one that has a decent age range - ie. not one that the kid grows out of in 2 months
* not too heavy
* Money not so much of an object but we are not the type to demand trendy brands

That's it. The key point being one that will stand up to a lot of use, and is not a behemoth on the streets of NYC. Any anecdotes and recommendations gratefully received. Thanks!
posted by gaspode to Shopping (31 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
For when they get a bit older after going through a bunch we got a Jeep Umbrella Stroller, super light, folds up real small and wheels the kid around. Perfect.

I was never very happy with any of the strollers we had for the baby though, they all seemed too big and unwieldly so can't help you there I'm afraid.
posted by zeoslap at 10:09 AM on July 11, 2008

Ours is like this but a different color. Super cheap too :)
posted by zeoslap at 10:10 AM on July 11, 2008

Are you going to get an infant car seat? If so, maybe look into a stroller that has an infant car seat attachment for the early months and then switch to 'normal' stroller mode after it? When we were researching, we couldn't find many normal strollers that also worked with infants.

We decided on a Phil and Ted Sport because it was durable and has the infant seat attachment AND you could add room for another kid easily.

But then we realized that my partner's company has a discount deal with BOB, so we decided on a Revolution.

Sister-in-law swears by Maclaren. Friends swear by Peg Perego. Who knows!?!

But to be honest with you, the "perfect" stroller just doesn't exist, as far as I can tell. We researched A LOT and finally ended up being happy with Britax carseats but never had the same settling in with strollers.

Maybe watch your local Craig's List and go for a used one and see how it works out?
posted by k8t at 10:12 AM on July 11, 2008

Just had a newborn and we love the phil and ted sport.
Phil and Teds sport website pics

In anaswer to your points. The P&T sport

- has three wheels (front can be changed to fixed i.e. not rotating) and is great for all terrains. Tyres are pneumatic and so should work in all of Manhatten

- can be used for a newborn i.e. flat and zips allow a progressive rise as the child gets older.

- I think Phil and teds works till they are walking (i think if memory serves me right the front axle can hold 25 kg and the back 15 kg) and the doubles kit allows the same pushchair to hold two.

- My post preganancy wife can life the pushchair into the car so not heavy

- I think P&T are just below bugaboos (dunno though not fussed by such things)

We love it so far. Main problems other reviews have highlighted are when newborn the child is quite low to the ground and the doubles kit makes the youngest stair into the back of the oldest. Both not issues for us.

They aren't cheap but are cheaper than a bugaboo, appear solidly built and we bought everything we needed (we went for Sport pushcahir, doubles kit, raincover, cocoon and sunscreen).

PS I am hoping a stroller = pushchair in the UK otherwise ignore the above.
posted by Vroom_Vroom_Vroom at 10:18 AM on July 11, 2008

We have a version of this* and in the 8 weeks we've had our baby, it's worked great. We take it out every day and it has stood up to the torture of going past the crushed sidewalk and construction sites down the street, and the bumpy nature of Milwaukee sidewalks. It's supposed to be good through age 4 and IIRC, Graco came with good reviews from friends and Consumer Reports.

I suppose you might not need a car seat though.

*Sorry about the Walmart link
posted by drezdn at 10:19 AM on July 11, 2008

I love my Peg Perego Venezia. I think the new model has a slightly different name, but any store can help you figure it out. The best part is that the stroller can face either way. If you want to protect your baby from strangers who poke at them when you are in a line-up, talk to your baby, sing, shush them, feed them, keep dogs off, turn away from the sun, etc, it's great. (I live in a very densely populated downtown core.) It fits anywhere and folds pretty well. Now that I have two kids, my 3-year-old will sometimes sit on the very sturdy tray or stand on the footrest. Eliminates need for double stroller, if you have bigger kid. It comes with a "boot" that wraps around and keeps baby cozy in winter. I love, love, love mine.

The only drawback is that it isn't great off road or on the beach.

Most people I know have Peg Peregos, although there are other good options.
posted by acoutu at 10:21 AM on July 11, 2008

I have a 16 month old in Brooklyn - so I had many of the same requirements as you and am now living with the results. My suggestion is this - you basically need two strollers (maybe 3 - but it doesn't have to be expensive). I'd recommend getting a basic frame for your car seat for the first few months. Its really going to be the most secure and comfortable for your baby. This one is a good choice. Try not to leave the baby in the car seat for super-long periods of time as its not great for their spines. Also a car seat can nest in an upside-down wooden restaurant high chair to keep the baby comfortable while you eat. You'll get rid of this frame once the baby is ready to sit up. I don't likethe bassinet-style ones for infants (no straps !), and the ones that recline never seem to really recline enough for a true infant.

Later - around 4 months - you'll want one that allows the baby to sit up and still be comfortable. Other city priorities: inflatable tires for the uneven sidewalks, recline capability for when the baby sleeps, manufacturer's rain cover (they simply fit best). General priorities of most parents: foldability (for restaurants), cupholders, comfortable handles and adjustable handle height. Its hard to find all of these functions in one stroller. Again you might want to consider owning more than one.

My compromise was this: I own a Rock Star Baby for everyday use and a Maclaren for taking in a car or when its likely the stroller will need to fold. You might not make the same choices but I chose them because: RSB plusses: inflatable tires; big, comfortable, pivoting seat; super-adjustable handles; baby can face you or "out"; minuses: doesn't fold much; heavy; not much storage in basket, no cupholder. The Maclaren was a different ball of wax: plusses: its lightweight and folds easily (includes a shoulder strap); otherwise everything else was "good enough" though - no cup holder !

If you have something in mind, I'd be happy to give you my (honed) opinion on it. Email in profile.
posted by AuntLisa at 10:23 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I bought one of these and it's great. It lays all the way down, it folds kindof in half and you can sling it over your shoulder, and it comes apart for easy washing. My son is now 2 and he still uses it.
posted by PossumCupCake at 10:25 AM on July 11, 2008

Your post says you have no car, so I would avoid models suggested above that include the car-seat. These types of strollers (which we had when our son was a newborn) are great for suburban families who are driving everywhere, but are bulky and usually very hard to open with one hand. I think you want an umbrella stroller, which is usually much lighter (important if your building has stairs) and can be opened with one hand (crucial when you are out and about the city on your own, on foot, with the baby). We have a Maclaren, like AuntLisa recommends, and it is all we use now.
posted by A Long and Troublesome Lameness at 10:37 AM on July 11, 2008

We have the much-mocked Bugaboo and we really love it. We added a cup holder. It is not a great folder; we use a Maclaren Volo when we need to stick it in a car. I credit the Bugaboo with helping me walk every day for miles when on maternity leave.

That said, I suspect that Quinny makes a comparable stroller for less dough.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 10:39 AM on July 11, 2008

IF you don't have a car - I don't know if you'll have a car seat - but we did the cheap (check craigslist) snap and go frame for the super infant stage - then moved to a Maclaren. It is small, light weight (can be folded and stashed easily), handles all the city/park terrain we've thrown at it and didn't break the bank. We've used it since she was about 3 months old and she is 2 now. I suspect it will take her through to the end of her stroller sitting days. We have the Quest - but it seems most of our friends have the XT. If you don't plan on having a car seat - the XT or the XLR is what you need as they fully recline where the Mod/Quest/Volo - while much cheaper - only do a partial recline.
posted by Wolfie at 10:42 AM on July 11, 2008

This is the specific type of Maclaren I recommend.
posted by A Long and Troublesome Lameness at 10:44 AM on July 11, 2008

I would check this stroller out if you can find it.

We have their Trevi stroller with the Keyfit 30 carseat that we love, but having spent my fair share of time in NY, I don't think it would be the right stroller for you.

The stroller I linked to has three wheels which is a must for navigating city streets, fits their Keyfit 30 carseats, has a nice broad canopy and an adjustable handlebar. I would strongly discourage getting any of the graco travel systems - my brother and sister-in-law have a daughter the same age as my son (6 months) and their stroller already looks shabby.

I would also look into getting an Ergo carrier instead of the bjorn. While my son didn't really like it until he was about 3 months old, the Ergo is much more back friendly, can hold the baby in a bunch of different ways and can be used for much longer (35lbs or so).
posted by a22lamia at 11:02 AM on July 11, 2008

We opted for the Bugaboo Cameleon a few years ago.

Our daughter slept in the bassinet for 6 months, including a trip to Mexico.
The seat (when removed from the stroller) was a stand alone baby chair.
It's was light enough that my wife could carry it (and the baby) alone down the stairs at the subway station.
It was suitable for both urban and off-road walks, and could go through most snowfalls.

They have a two year warranty that replaced a sun-faded fleece cover, the entire seat (for the sake of a cracked clip), and the entire frame (for the sake of a broken brake cable casing).
When we unload it, we effectively have a new stroller to sell.

But most importantly for us was that it could fold almost flat, and slide behind our living room couch, since our wartime bungalow was not designed for storing anything of any size.
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 11:15 AM on July 11, 2008

Response by poster: thanks for the responses so far, everyone. Very helpful. And yeah, we will be taking these responses and other research to craigslist as well as considering buying new.

Just to clarify - yep, we don't have a car and won't be getting one, but we will have a carseat for the few occasions when one is necessary. I think the cost-benefit ratio of getting a carseat-adaptable stroller or frame is not optimal though - I don't see the kiddo being in the carseat very often.
posted by gaspode at 11:53 AM on July 11, 2008

As someone already said - the perfect stroller doesn't exist. You have to compromise on something unfortunately. Its also impossible to tell what will suit you until you've bought and tried it.

I am assuming you will have a car seat, how will you get the baby home from the hospital (unless you are doing a home delivery I suppose)? I agree with Aunt Lisa, you will probably end up buying multiple strollers for different occasions.

We bought the very expensive and much maligned bugaboo cameleon, which is actually pretty great. We had the graco snugride carseat (top safety rated) and with a $15 converter, can just pop the car seat into the stroller frame. It is heavy, does not fold down terribly small, but it does have adjustable height handles, which is a godsend if you and your partner are of wildly different heights. It also drives really nicely, and copes with almost all terrain types. In your case, I would hazard a guess that might want to get and use a carseat for everyday use anyway, just because you can strap the baby in (safety). I never used the bassinet that came with the bugaboo because I just had visions of him rolling right out if the stroller got tipped up somehow. Then you could buy one of the cheap snap and go things to plug the car seat into if you wanted to try this style out. I also used a mei-tai carrier a lot (tried and hated the bjorn and various slings), which you can throw in the little basket underneath and switch back and forth.

Umbrella strollers aren't much use for a baby until they are about 6 months old, so you can either buy a giant expensive all in one thing like the bugaboo. Or you can do the carseat/snap and go for 6 months, then switch to a lightweight umbrella stroller. We just bought a McLaren for DS (1 yr old) and he loves it much more than the bugaboo now. The recline isn't very recliney, but it drives nice, folds up awesomely small in comparison and is super light.

I'd suggest looking around at other moms you see in NY and what they do. Is everyone using a sling for newborns instead of a stroller? if they do have a stroller, how do they get around on the subway? Is there a local parenting email list you can consult for more help from people who live where you do?
posted by Joh at 12:00 PM on July 11, 2008

I think the cost-benefit ratio of getting a carseat-adaptable stroller or frame is not optimal though - I don't see the kiddo being in the carseat very often.

You can get those snap and go things on craigslist for almost no money at all, so don't rule it out if you will be buying the carseat anyway.
posted by Joh at 12:02 PM on July 11, 2008

Best answer: We have a Graco City Lite, which apparently isn't made anymore. The current equivalent appears to be the Graco Metro Lite.

We've used the City Lite for more than 5 years and it still works for pretty well.

We selected it on weight and maneuverability. The storage underneath is pretty good, but ejects its contents upon folding. The handle height is moderately adjustable, which is great for differing heights in caretakers. It's pretty narrow and turns on a dime. I wish it was easier to unfold one-handed.

It appears that the new model has a crappier cross-bar and a five point harness instead of a 3 point.
posted by plinth at 12:10 PM on July 11, 2008

I sat on my hands for a while because you said you don't have a car. But now that you've said you'll be getting a car seat anyway, I'm piping up. We have a Graco SnugRide with the Graco stroller adapter. I freaking love this stroller and I will be very sad when our son outgrows it. (He's four and a half months old, and probably has another three or four months before he gets too big.) Here's why I love it so much:

- the stroller is pretty compact when open, unlike some of those travel systems which are like the Cadillac Escalade of strollers.

- in spite of the compact size, the basket underneath the stroller is HUGE. You can do a grocery shopping and get an astonishing amount of stuff in that storage basket. This is the feature I will miss the most. I have a car but try to do most of my errands on foot, and this has made that a lot easier.

- very easy to fold and open. Folds pretty flat. Rolls *very* smoothly.

We got this system because I wasn't sure what I would really want in a stroller when I was pregnant, and since we had to buy a car seat anyway, this was a cheap inexpensive system that would meet my immediate needs while I figured out what features I really wanted in a more expensive stroller.
posted by ambrosia at 12:29 PM on July 11, 2008

Make sure you try it out first. We have a Combi stroller that my wife loves but it is too short for me to push comfortably (and I'm not a giant - only 6'1")
posted by tiburon at 12:30 PM on July 11, 2008

Response by poster: I am assuming you will have a car seat, how will you get the baby home from the hospital (unless you are doing a home delivery I suppose)?

Cab or subway.

Despite what hospitals may tell you, they can't actually arrest you and lock you up and prevent you from leaving if you don't have a car seat (as told to me by the head nurse where we are delivering). Of course, legally you have to have one if you are driving yourself, but if one is in a cab, there is no legal requirement for a car seat. (and in NYC, a buncha people just walk home from the hospital. Seriously. I know a lot of people who have done that.)

That said, I wouldn't be comfortable in a cab without a car seat, although of course it won't be fitted in properly.

And now I've derailed my own thread! Back to strollers and yeah, maybe we'll look again at one of those frame thingies. Like I said in the question, the key requirements are durability and not being too big. I'm aware compromises will be made.
posted by gaspode at 12:37 PM on July 11, 2008

Maclaren Techno, or Techno XLR. Unlike most Maclarens the Techno does a full recline suitable for a newborn (we used ours from ~2 weeks on). It's easily foldable into a small form factor, great to push, very durable, and not super high priced. We live in Chicago and it's the only stroller we've ever owned (0-18 months), and the only one we intend to own unless we absolutely need to get a double stroller. Although we have a car we did not get a carseat capable stroller and have had no issues.

I can't recommend it highly enough.

The Techno XLR is the carseat capable one at a higher price point - I have no personal experience with it and don't know if it has the full recline or is bulkier in some other way.

posted by true at 12:52 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Bugaboo Chameleon is awesome. It was the lightest and has the most manoeverability of any that we tried, and is also really sturdy and solid feeling. The downsides are as mentioned it doesn't fold up too great, particularly when in carry-cot mode, but it doesn't sound like that is an issue for you anyway, and the cost, being something like 3x more than any other we looked at...

But then we just looked at it like an iPod: it costs more because it's cooler ;)
posted by jon4009 at 2:41 PM on July 11, 2008

We're in a very similar situation here at Dogsbody Towers in London, UK. I'm 30 weeks, without a car (but probably getting a carseat just in case) and was looking for something lightweight (but sturdy) for pounding the city streets and compact enough for public transport.

I don't know if you have an equivalent in the US, but I took out a subscription to Which. They do great comparative tests of all sorts of consumer goods (including pushchairs). The two that came out top for me were:

Maclaren Techno XLR - pros: fully reclineable, carseat compatible, fantastic reputation. Cons, some people find the recline mechanism awkward to get at, not widely available (in the UK at least) in gender neutral colours (tricky when you've decided to wait and see what flavour your get!).

Bugaboo Bee - this is a different concept from the Cameleon mentioned previously. Pros, narrow and very manoeuvrable, front/rear-facing seat, carseat compatible; cons, eye-wateringly expensive for what it is.

Next step, if you can go to a nice big department store and spend some time messing about with your shortlisted models, you'll hopefully find one that you like the feel of.

Oh, and congratulations!
posted by dogsbody at 3:26 PM on July 11, 2008

I know a few others have said it, but I'll definitely echo the sentiment -- we lurve our Bugaboo Cameleon. We live in very NYC-like environs -- Capitol Hill in DC -- and the sturdiness of the Cameleon can't really be stressed enough; that thing humps up and down curbs, over wildly-uneven brick sidewalks, and through parks like no other stroller I've used. We brought it to NYC with us when we visited three weeks ago, and loved it there as much as we love it here. We quickly gave up our SnugRider frame and bought the Bugaboo adapter that let us snap our Graco SnugRide carseat onto the Cameleon, and it was worth every penny ten times over. Also, because the seat on the Cameleon has multiple recline positions and can face either backwards or forwards, we felt pretty comfortable very early moving the peanut out of the carseat and into the Cameleon seat -- we leaned the seat slightly back and had it facing us for a month or so, and now have her leaning the same amount back but facing forward (since she's in the MUST-SEE-EVERYTHING phase). It's super-versatile like this.
posted by delfuego at 7:21 PM on July 11, 2008

Just got back from Manhattan. A good 50-70% of the strollers I saw were Maclarens, for whatever reason.
posted by brandnew at 7:55 PM on July 11, 2008

For the love of god, don't get a bugaboo. They're gorgeous and light and handle beautifully but are cumbersome. If you ever want to collapse it, it goes in to two enormous pieces that don't fit in to many taxi/car boots....and the quality is no longer what it was. We got one for ToddlerTaff because it was so highly recommended.

I, rather controversially, believe that lots of bugaboo owners suffer from some kind of cognitive dissonance. After paying so much, it's hard to admit it's crappus. Once I started complaining to fellow owners about ours.... boy, did they change their tunes. Previously delighted owners 'fessed up about the drawbacks. It was like a club.... "don't mention the flaws till someone has forked over one and a half thousand dollars to look like a knob"!

A much more sensible and experienced parent suggested the Maclaren Techno XT and we couldn't be happier with it. Just bought the Maclaren double for toddlertaff and InUteroTaff.

The bugaboo sellers took it back from us with a fulll refund after a year... with an apology and admission that now they were made in China, the bugaboos were no longer a quality item. A huge admission really. But people are still buying them.

We went to a class kind of thing at our local exclusive baby boutique when I was "up the duff" with ToddlerTaff... and the woman running the class was pushing the mountain buggies, phil and teds and bugaboos and stokkes.... but she did say that everyone who bought those strollers ended up buying second strollers (usually umbrella like ones) around the first year mark as people needed the convenience.

If I hadn't already done a load of research that said the bugaboo was brilliant, I'd have bought a Maclaren Techno XT then and there. Stupid me! Turns out everyone I know(including my entire mother's group) bought the smaller, simpler, lighter strollers within the year... yup, we're all dags... and rampant consumers, and wanting to be good parents...

Good luck possum, it's a minefield out there!
posted by taff at 2:45 AM on July 12, 2008

If I can piggyback on this question a tiny bit (hopefully in a way that helps the original poster as well): for those of you recommending the Maclaren Techno and other small-wheeled strollers: does snow give them a very hard time?

I was about to post the very same question but for Montreal, where snow is a slightly bigger issue than in NYC.
posted by louigi at 8:20 AM on July 12, 2008

(Chicago poster from above). I'll say it has problems over about 3-4 inches, or when it gets to be a slushy mess. It won't handle deep powder very well, although since it is so lightweight if you can move you can basically push it through anything. Little bits of snow or snow over ice like you'd find after someone shovels their sidewalk are not really a problem.
posted by true at 12:51 PM on July 12, 2008

A Peg Perego won't go anywhere in Vancouver snow...even an inch of snow. Montreal snow is a bit easier, but I still wouldn't want to do it.
posted by acoutu at 7:18 PM on July 17, 2008

Response by poster: For any future searches: We ended up going with the Graco Metrolite per plinth's recommendation and our trial runs at the store. We are very happy with it. It's sturdy but light and very maneuverable.
posted by gaspode at 9:44 AM on January 6, 2009

« Older What to do in the Laurel, Maryland area for...   |   What are the dimensions of the universe? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.