I have to confess something. I have owned over twenty strollers for my three kids. Eight of those strollers were purchased as my family was just beginning to grow, way before Magic Beans was even an idea. It was was 2002, and my livingroom was filled with strollers. We just couldn’t choose the right one.
We started with a Graco Metrolite (with a cute french bear), then a Kolcraft Universal for the car, a Inglesina Pram to look proper around town (it was huge beast of a stroller), a Graco Running stroller for my dad for running or walks in the snow, a Combi Ultra Savvy to replace the Graco which we didn’t like, a Martinelli full size stroller when the Combi broke on a plane, a Chicco Caddy Umbrella Stroller for the car, and a Maclaren Volo umbrella stroller when we got tired of kicking the wheels when we walked with the Chicco.
So when we started Magic Beans, part of our mission was to keep parents from making the same mistakes: we want to help you find the right stroller first, so you don’t have to purchase a dozen strollers that aren’t the right fit before you find the one that you love. Since opening Magic Beans in 2004, I have helped thousands of expectant parents choose the right stroller (or combination of strollers) to meet their lifestyle. After over ten years in the biz and all those happy customers, I’ve learned a thing or two about strollers, and here are some of my top shopping tips for you.
Heavy Duty & Also Lightweight? It Doesn’t Exist
Most expectant parents want a stroller that will trudge through snow, be awesome on the beach, and handle rugged hiking, but they also want it to be under ten pounds and fold up compactly for their car. A stroller fitting that description would be a miracle of design, and so far, it hasn’t been made (and we don’t anticipate it appearing anytime soon).
So you need to prioritize features, and give some serious thought to what you’ll be doing most frequently when you leave the house with your baby. If you live in your car and do a hundred errands a day, get something light and easy to fold (ideally under 13 pounds), but if you are a big walker, get something more rugged that is going to be a dream to push even if it’s over 23 pounds.
If you’re going to be doing a bit of each (and your needs may change as your child gets older), the perfect stroller for you may be two strollers, but it’s better to get two that, in combination, add up to a terrific travel solution, rather than one that doesn’t quite fit the bill. That’s how you wind up with 20 strollers like me!
I’ve seen expectant parents who will spend hundreds of dollars on shoes, and thousands of dollars on handbags just to get the right one that they love. Even if they don’t use the shoes or the bags all the time, it’s worth spending a little extra for something you really adore.
So why would you settle on a stroller, which you’ll be using every day? With a new baby, getting out of the house will be essential for your sanity, and can be quite a production, so it’s a must to get a stroller that doesn’t add any stress to the process, and that you enjoy pushing around town. Add extra kids, and this is a product you’ll be using for years. It’s an investment that’s worth every penny. So if you’ve been eyeing an UPPAbaby or a Bugaboo, GET IT. You’ll be so happy that you did.
Pro tip: Register for lots of giftcards. I’ve seen customers buy thousands of dollars of products with a big stack of $25 giftcards!
Don’t Get Overwhelmed By All the Choices
It can seem crazy how many options there are out there, but keep in mind that only a few items in that vast sea of baby gear are the right ones for YOU. Every family is different, so even though we carefully edit our selection to the best of the best, having a smart selection at Magic Beans means we have a varied selection.
So, stay focused. If you’re expecting your first child, you don’t need to pay attention to the double strollers, or the umbrella strollers. Living in the city? Go straight for the hybrid strollers. Planning on jogging and hiking? Make a beeline for the all-terrain strollers and running strollers.
Think For Yourself – But Ask for Our Help!
Your sister, your best friend, your mom, your aunt, your cousin, your grandma: everyone has an opinion! But they are not you. Yes, our parents did fine with barely a tiny umbrella stroller, but is that what you want, or what you need? The options for strollers change and expand and get better every year, so it’s worth doing your research, beyond the advice you get from your nearest and dearest.
And while other moms are experts on their family and the gear they like, the customer service staff at independent specialty baby stores is trained to be experts on the gear that fits ALL families, in all their uniqueness. That’s why it’s best to stroll off the beaten path, skip the big box stores, and go to a place like Magic Beans and other Brixy stores. Specialty baby stores cut through the confusion, answer your questions, and put in the extra effort required to ensure that you love what you buy. We’ll respect your budget, and figure out the bet way to stretch those dollars the tightest for that one stroller that you can’t do without.
Of course, this is only an overview, and there’s so much more to learn about strollers. Start with our Stroller Buying Guide, and then give us a call, get onto our live chat, or, if you’re up here in New England, come into a store and test-drive all the strollers in person! And we double-dare you to find a big-box store whose owner will answer your emails – but you can reach me easily at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @eligurock. I’d love to help you and make sure your livingroom doesn’t end up looking like a stroller parking lot like mine did.