We’re coming up on Magic Beans’ eleventh birthday, and that adds up to a lot of strollers! I never imagined, back when I began, that I would become a stroller expert, but experience adds up, and now selling strollers is one of my favorite things about this job.
Today I’d like to share my cornerstone piece of advice for city parents – folks who seldom use a car, since you can walk everywhere you need to go. In this situation, your stroller is, to some extent, your car: you’ll be using it practically every day to shuttle your kid around your neighborhood. Planning out your city stroller strategy may mean that you’re going to wind up with two or even three strollers, but if you shop smart at the get-go, you won’t wind up buying twenty strollers (like I did!).
Let’s start with size and weight: a lot of expectant parents will immediately dismiss some great city strollers as “too big.” And it’s true, some strollers ARE really big. The 2015 UPPAbaby Vista Stroller is upwards of 28 pounds – that’s not small. However, along with that weight comes a huge advantage in performance: you can feel the difference. When you try out a stroller in our stores, think about how your stroller is going to feel when you push it around your neighborhood. Think also about how it will feel being pushed across a mulchy playground, or cracked Boston sidewalks. These are important questions!
Rather than weight or accessories, think about your primary use for the stroller. Think about how comfortable it will be for you to push and how comfortable it will be for your baby to ride in. (Save thinking about cupholders, the size of the basket, the feel of the handlebar, and other issues later.)
But Eli, I do have to put this big, heavy stroller in my car, don’t I?
This is the second conundrum. Yes, you’re going to be doing most of your strolling without involving your car, making a Vista, a Bugaboo Buffalo, a Jané Rider, or a Stokke Xplory a great choice. But at the end of the day, car trips WILL happen.
This is the point where you may suddenly find yourself leaning towards a stroller with smaller wheels, like an UPPAbaby Cruz or a Baby Jogger City Mini. These are both terrific choices for suburban families (and great overall strollers), but they’re not going to eat up the sidewalk the way the larger models do (and let’s not even get started about snow).
So what do you do?
I suggest you get two strollers: what I like call a House Stroller and a Car Stroller. A House Stroller is one of those more fully-featured strollers, like a Bugaboo Donkey or a Bumbleride Indie 4. They are comfortable to push, but they are a bit hefty to put in your car. So… just skip it! Unless you’re going somewhere where you need all-terrain capability, or you’re going to be walking for a long time, just leave your super-deluxe-mega-stroller at home.
Instead, bring along your car stroller: a lightweight (somewhere under 12 pounds) with a simple, compact fold. It will do the trick perfectly on quick errands to doctor’s appointments or the grocery store, and it will zip in and out of your car with the greatest of ease.
When your baby is tiny, these trips in the car will probably involve your infant car seat – since they’re designed to snap on and off of a base in your car without taking the baby out, they make traveling by car with your baby much easier. For this phase, I recommend a stroller frame, commonly known as a “Snap n’ Go”). At Magic Beans, we sell the Chicco Caddy, which is a product that works specifically with a Chicoo Keyfit 30 – I love it! It has a huge basket and two cupholders, and folds up small for your trunk. Is it perfect for long walks? No! But that’s what the house stroller is for.
If you have a Maxi Cosi Mico, a Cybex Aton, or a Nuna Pipa and are looking for a stroller frame, checkout the Maxi Taxi by Maxi Cosi. We don’t sell those at Magic Beans, but my friends at Nessalee Baby do.
Or, you could try the Doona: it’s both an infant car seat AND a stroller!
Another note about the car stroller: in the first year of your child’s life, you’re going to have a lot of days where you just haven’t gotten enough sleep, and that is going to make you forgetful. On those days, you may find that you’ve driven all the way to Grandma’s house and left your stroller behind! That isn’t going to happen, however, if you have a stroller that’s permanently parked in your car trunk.
Buying two strollers may not be in your budget, but remember the core of my advice. Think about stroller performance. Ask yourself, what will I be doing the most with this stroller? Will I be walking around or taking it in and out of the car trunk? Make your stroller choices based on their primary use, and you are going to be very satisfied and less frustrated.
Still have questions? We’re here to help. If you’d like some advice from me and my team of stroller matchmakers, just email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be delighted to help you personally.