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The Art of Stroller Matchmaking

Jess and I in San Francisco in 2010

Jess and I in San Francisco in 2010

As the blog editor and content writer here at Magic Beans, it’s my job to know our product selection inside-out, but not necessarily to get hands-on with the gear, or with our customers.

But last week, I had to insist on being part of a very special stroller consultation: my friend Jessica, who I’ve known for over 10 years, is expecting her first baby, and she and her husband Seth came to Magic Beans to pick out their stroller! So we set up an appointment with Mel, one of the experts at our Brookline store, and I got to participate in my first Stroller Matchmaking session.

Selecting the right stroller starts with an encyclopedic knowledge of brands and features, but the most important pieces of information come from our customers: the right stroller is going to depend on your lifestyle. Of course, with folks who I already knew, I had a little bit of a cheat sheet in advance, since
I knew the following:

  • consultation small squareJess and Seth live in the suburbs, and are going to be constantly in and out of the car. This makes a “travel system” style combo of stroller and infant car seat essential – when your newborn is napping, you don’t want to wake the little guy to take him out of the car or put him in the stroller!
  • You use your stroller for much longer than your car seat (the stroller will last you for 3-4 years, while babies mostly graduate from an infant car seat to a convertible before they’re a year old), so it’s best to pick the stroller and then choose your car seat based on what’s compatible.
  • Because they’ll be in and out of the car a lot, they need a stroller with a relatively compact fold and a not-too-cumbersome frame, especially since Jess’s car is not huge. This ruled out any really MONSTROUSLY large strollers, and made it important to find a stroller with quick-release wheels (to make the fold even more compact if necessary).
  • However, since they live on a hilly street in a neighborhood with limited sidewalks, and because their baby is going to be born in mid-winter, I was insistent on big wheels and good suspension.
  • Jess had her heart set on a reversible seat. She and Seth are also both pretty tall, so an adjustable handlebar would be helpful.

My prediction going in, based on all of the above (plus knowing what they prefer aesthetically), was that the Nuna Mixx Stroller would be their top pick, and sure enough, Jess and Seth immediately liked it. In order to make sure that they had a comfortable basis of comparison for their favorite stroller versus other similar models, though, Mel brought out the following strollers for them to try:

nuna mixxAll of these strollers are a little lighter than the Mixx, and have a few more possible compatible car seats (the Mixx
only has adapters for Nuna, Cybex, and Maxi-Cosi infant car seats). Plus, the City Mini GT and the B-Agile both have a really compact and simple fold. But Jess and Seth preferred the four-on-the-floor feel of the Mixx, they really wanted a reversible seat, and they didn’t mind that it weighs a little more than the Cruz. Plus, I was very insistent that they’ll need the Mixx’s bigger back wheels! (Seriously, once you’ve pushed different strollers over New England sidewalks during the winter, you understand why big wheels are a big deal.) So the Mixx was a clear winner.

Moving on to car seats: Jess and Seth love gadgetry and unique-looking products, so I thought they might be intrigued by the futuristic look and the extraordinary safety technology of the Cybex Aton Q, but ease-of-use wound up being a much more important factor, so the Nuna Pipa Infant Car Seat won the day because it’s so lightweight (only 7.7 pounds!). Mel did a great job demonstrating just how beautifully easy it is to install, too: between the rigid LATCH and the terrific seat belt install, installing a Pipa base is as easy as it gets.

So now, there’s only one step left: once their baby arrives this Christmas (could there possibly be a better gift?), they get to try out the Mixx with baby on board. But in the meantime, my friends feel confident and happy about two key pieces of baby gear that they’ll be using every day – Jess texted me the next day, “We totally got the best stroller.”

That’s the value-add you get when you shop with experts: there are so many variables and so many things to worry about with a new baby (especially your first), but if you have experts evaluate your needs, you can feel really GOOD about what you bought, and excited to use your stroller. And you’ll have the same great experience with every Stroller Matchmaker in our stores!

magic beans stroller buying guide

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