NOTE: THIS POST WAS WRITTEN 6/13/10, ALSO IT IS WRITTEN IN CHUNKS WRITTEN ON DIFFERENT DATES – BOLD IS THE SECOND SET OF THOUGHTS, BOLD BLUE IS MY MOST RECENT THOUGHTS. AND FINALLY, SINCE I’VE MORE OR LESS COME TO A CONCLUSION, UNLESS YOUR OPINION SHOWS ME SOMETHING OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE (AS IN, THIS ITEM RANDOMLY BURSTS INTO FLAMES), PLEASE DON’T KNOCK MY CHOICE TOO HARD. IT WAS A DIFFICULT DECISION PROCESS FOR ME AND ANOTHER DIFFERENT OPINION MAY VERY WELL CAUSE ME TO SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST (PLEASE DO FEEL FREE TO ANSWER THE FEW REMAINING QUESTIONS THOUGH!). OK, ENOUGH WITH THE CAPS LOCK DISCLAIMER…
What should we get? I feel like there’s a bunch of options:
1. Stroller system – comes with car seat for infants that snaps into base in car and onto stroller. Under that is a toddler stroller (just remove the infant seat). This looks like the most practical option, as it seems it would last a long time from newborn to toddler, but is it? It’s also really heavy, harder to fold up, and though Chris assures me it will fit in the trunk of his car (we’re trading once baby comes, 😦 ) I’m not so sure. I liked the way the felt when I pushed them – safe and sturdy, but do people really get good use out of them or is that just what all new moms think (get the biggest and most inclusive!!) and then just get frustrated with the bulk and find another option? I don’t know. While I certainly see the negatives, and have read reviews about the negatives, I have to say this is my favorite choice right now.
2. Mid-range strollers – we saw a Maclaren I liked that folded up pretty small, but ultimately, we decided it was completely a waste of money. It was nearly the same price as the stroller systems (more when you add in the price of a separate carseat) without the benefit of being useful for multiple ages. It said 3m+ but I’m really not sure how a 3 month old would really fit in that stroller. It was basically just a cushier umbrella stroller. I can just picture my baby sliding out or rolling all over the place, with their head flopped over (I know they have buckle restraints, but even so, this did not look custom fit for a small baby, it just looked like a streamlined toddler portion of the system strollers). Plus, what do you do the first 3 months? Just carry a carseat on its own? Use body carriers (more on this in option 6)? Also, possibly fitting into this category is jogger strollers – forget it. I’m not delusional enough to think I’ll be jogging anywhere – and you can’t even use a jogger for newborns because of the shaking risk. I would like the option to take baby on walks, but I really don’t think I need to waste money on a jogger for that.
3. Bare stroller base (basically just the metal parts and a handle) that accommodates a baby seat snapped in – Like the mid-range strollers, my main concern here is that this is again only useful a limited time, namely the early time (which I guess means I’d have to follow up this choice with choice #2, thus really breaking the bank). When looking up reviews for some stroller systems, I saw a few people recommend just going for these since they fold up smaller and lighter and apparently many stroller system carseats don’t fit in shopping carts (edit: I was informed by a Buy Buy Baby employee that carseats shouldn’t be put into shopping carts, unless you put it into the big part thus necessitating another cart (or just piling food on top of baby, lol), which makes sense stability-wise, but 2 carts?? What the heck do you do with the kid?? I can’t take Chris with me shopping every week and I don’t see myself being able to push a cart and a stroller at the same time), while this choice allows you to choose your own carseat. However, the carseat has to be compatible with the base, and from what I found, this option is again almost as expensive as the stroller system. And again, without the backup toddler seat underneath, this seems like a waste of money to me, too. Not to mention the whole “size of carseats” issue makes me wonder – are system carseats really oversized compared to average or are some of the non-system options smaller than average – and are the smaller ones just as safe or do they just cramp baby or have a shorter usable time?
4. I also noticed strollers like the Graco MetroLite, which is classified as a “full size” stroller and is compatible for snap-in with certain Graco seats, but I couldn’t tell if there was any benefit to choosing this over a system stroller – is it any lighter or is it basically just the 2 pieces of the system (cushy full size toddler stroller + carseat) sold separately?
5. Or I guess the Combi Cosmo EX is classified as a lightweight stroller (and good for up to toddlers, I guess) and it’s compatible with the Combi Shuttle EX carseat, so I suppose the weight is actually a benefit here, but the price tag is a good $100 more than the Graco Stylus we were looking at (though to be fair, it’s the same price as the highly rated Chicco Cortina we looked at, even if we didn’t like it quite as much), so does anyone know if Combi makes a good stroller? I’ve never heard of them.
6. Umbrella stroller + Ergo/Bjorn carrier – In this scenario, I would carry the baby on me until he or she fit into an umbrella stroller (a long while?). This is the cheapest option, but I’m not sure my back likes the idea and while the umbrella strollers are certainly very lightweight and inexpensive, are they comfortable at all? And do those carriers work on people with big boobs? And what carriers are good?? I don’t want to be folding it around me like origami and I certainly want to make sure my baby can breathe – what’s easy to use and safe?
And then what brand? Babies R Us has a highest rated section on the website and, for example, of category 1, I saw the Chicco Cortina (again, we actually saw this in store, but didn’t it like as much as the Graco Stylus we looked at – but only slightly), Evenflo Aura (totally bypassed in the store because I’d never heard of it and I think the carseat snap-in looked flimsy) and Graco Quattro (the biggest Graco stroller available, not the one we were actually looking at in store. I just walked past this behemoth. 46 pounds my ass.). I just feel like the reviews aren’t terribly helpful because there’s such a mix of good and bad for everything and pretty much everything seems comparable. I just want a list to tell me “This is the best one. Buy this one.” and I want it to be based on opinions of moms and stuff, but also opinions of people who safety train these things and I’d prefer it to be choices for average people like me, not some ridiculous celebrity used brand that costs $800. Does that exist??
EDIT 6/19/10: Ok, so we took a trip to Buy Buy Baby this weekend and now I’m leaning away from the stroller system and more towards a lighter weight stroller that is compatible with certain carseats. The one we liked the best was the Peg Perego Vela (I guess this kinda fits into option 5 above), which I left the store thinking “Ok, I think that’s the one I’ll go for”. But now, I’m seeing that it’s a pretty new model and I’m not having much luck finding reviews (Amazon had only 6) and I’m just not sure anymore. It was light weight, easy to maneuver, easy to fold, and had a place to clip in a car seat (the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio, which seemed quite safe and had good features), so I liked it. I just wish I could read about people who’ve actually used it. Out of the 6 reviews, 5 seemed to love it, but 1 gave it 1 star saying it tipped over with her kid strapped in. I don’t know if she just should’ve been paying more attention or if this is a real hazard with this stroller. It seemed pretty stable, but are the 3-wheeled strollers (3 wheeled, but not jogging; the wheels are smaller) less stable and I don’t know it? I don’t know. I’m just feeling uncertain now. Am I just being unreasonable? Should I just go with what I liked in the store and trust my gut (albeit, my inexperienced gut) or should it be important to be able to find lots of good reviews?
Plus when I was looking up a similar 4-wheeled stroller within the same brand, I noticed that a few people recommended just getting a Graco Snug Ride Stroller Frame (option 3 above) and Graco Snug Ride car seat and then later going back out for a light weight toddler stroller. I suppose the benefit here is that it’s even lighter and easier to fold up and toss in the trunk. Is having to go back out for a toddler stroller a hassle though? Or is it actually helpful to be able to test out different strollers with the actual toddler? And again, it could end up being pricier, I suppose depending on the toddler stroller. Since there’s such a price range in toddler strollers and I haven’t looked into toddler-only strollers, I’m not sure what the cost difference is between this 2-part option and the 1-part Peg Perego option.The Graco stroller + seat together is less than half the price of the Peg Perego stroller + seat. The toddler stroller could be up to $270 just to even the prices. That seems like a pretty doable budget for a toddler stroller. So, is that a better option?
EDIT # 2: So, again, with the help of the Baby Bargains book, I looked up our narrowed down 2 choices from the above edit. Again, unfortunately, the Peg Perego is just too new to get much information – despite being the latest edition published earlier this year, the book basically just mentioned that the Vela was going to be released soon. It did review the brand as a whole, giving it a B (the carseat got an A-), which is good, but it also pointed out that the brand had some trouble recently when they started producing the Aria (the sort of predecessor to the Vela) in China, with quality issues. They’ve since returned to Italy, so the assumption is that it’ll be good again, but who knows. So, basically, I’m still in the position of not really wanting to be the guinea pig for a very new product. I’d rather have the security of using a well-known and well-reviewed product. Even if we liked it in the store. Because what do I know about safety?
Our other option, the Graco Snug-Ride frame plus carseat, was in fact recommended in the summary “our picks” section for suburban-dwelling moms (Graco as a brand got a B, while the carseat got an A), followed up with a lightweight, but not barebones umbrella stroller – either a low-end Maclaren, like the Triumph or the Chicco C6 (which I forgot to look at at the store yesterday…). Sooo…I’m thinking Graco Snug-Ride frame, which we played with at the store yesterday and thought it was great. And with either follow up stroller, the total price is a good amount less than the Peg Perego. I dare say I may have chosen. Cue the triumphant music. …Though I do have one question about the seat – there are 3 different Graco-Snug Ride carseats (all of which are supposed to fit the frame), the base one, the 32, and the 35. Each holds up to a different weight and height (base holds 22 lbs, 32 holds 32, 35 holds 35). My question is, do I really need the 32 or 35? When I researched at what age kids hit 22 lbs, I read anywhere from 9 months to a year or so. Even if I’ve moved onto the second stroller by that point (which I’m assuming I will, right?), will the kid still be rear facing? Does getting the 35 prolong rear facing and is that a good thing? Or should I just stick with the base model, expecting to bump up to the next level forward facing carseat once the kid hits 22 lbs?
So, I guess my few remaining questions are:
1. How do you handle a small baby (one unable to support his or her neck, so you can’t just put them in the cart’s seat area) on errands in which you need to push a cart?
2. If I were to try a body carrier, what is a good choice that isn’t hard to use, but is safe (and works with big boobs)?
3. Will I be ok with the base carseat that holds 22 lbs or is it really a good idea to prolong rear-facing with the carseat that holds 35 lbs (and a longer baby, I just don’t remember the inches off hand)?