Five years, six strollers and seven hundred dollars

22 02 2009

This blog is the first in a series I will write about baby gear. Over the last 5 years, Mark and I have spent thousands of dollars on strollers and car seats, cribs and bunk beds, cloth diapers and baby carriers – and so much more. Along the way we have learned what works for our family. I would like to share a little of the wisdom we’ve aquired through trial and error to hopefully save our friends who are new parents a few bucks. 

Stroller #1: Graco Quattro Tour Travel System

graco-stroller

When we were pregnant with Asher, we bought Graco Quattro Tour stroller and matching infant car seat for $270. I’ll never forget the first day we went shopping for baby stuff. We walked into Babies R’Us, stumbled past the rows of strollers, car seats, bouncy seats, and high chairs and collapsed in the rocking chairs looking up at a massive wall of brightly colored baby bedding. We were beyond overwhelmed and, like other new parents, we were sucked in by the marketing. We picked the Graco travel system picturing the ease with which we could transfer our baby from car to stroller to home without ever taking him out of his car seat.

But pushing the stroller around with the car seat felt like navigating a large SUV through the mall. The stroller was heavy and difficult to get in and out of the car. Asher grew out of the car seat when he was less than 6 months old. We continued to use the Quattro Tour stroller for a few months, but when Asher was about 9 months old we sold it to grandma and bought a lightweight umbrella stroller. To the stroller’s credit, it still works great at grandma’s house.

Stroller #2 and #3: Baby Jogging Strollers 

Inspired by the parents I had seen at Greenlake with their kids in jogging strollers when I used to run in college, we wanted to buy a jogging stroller. We were given one jogging stroller for free. We also bought one an old Baby Jogger for $75 at a garage sale. Asher hated both strollers with a passion. Neither were comfortable. The seats did not adjust. The Baby Jogger had a canopy for the sun and a rain fly, but neither worked well. We passed on the free baby jogger to some other unwitting parents. I used the Baby Jogger for a few months while I ambitiously was training for a half-marathon, but sold it to another family for $50 when I stopped running.

Stroller #4: Silver Cross Umbrella Stroller

silver-cross

When Asher was 9 months old, we bought a Silver Cross umbrella stroller for $130. Overall, the Silver Cross has been a great stroller. It is lightweight and easy to use. It weighs just 12 pounds and it folds compactly so it is easy to get in and out of the car. It is durable and it works. 

The only downside to this stroller is that it is a single stroller and with three kids, it doesn’t get the job done.

Stroller #5: Mountain Buggy Urban Double

doubleurban_black-320x200

When we were expecting our second son, Micah, we spent about $600 on a Mountain Buggy Urban Double. This stroller worked very well for our family while we had two children. It is a solid, extremely well-built stroller that will easily last longer than most cars. It is easy to push, even with one hand. It is relatively small for a double jogging stroller. At just 29″ wide, it fits through standard doors. The wheels swivel so you can navigate the stroller through crowded or small spaces easily. The seats recline and adjust so that it works from birth to age four. There is a roomy storage basket underneath along with cup holders and a zippered pocket where we usually kept wipes. The stroller has medium size wheels with real tires and works well on and off the road.

There are only two downsides to this stroller. First, it weighs about 35 pounds. It was very difficult for me to get this stroller in and out of our Subaru. Second, while it is a great double stroller, it lacks flexibility. When you have a 4 year old, a 2 year old, and a newborn, it seems to change every minute who needs and wants to be in the stroller. Recently, we decided to sell the Mountain Buggy on Craigslist.

Stroller #6: Uppa Baby Vista

uppa-baby-320x200  piggy-back-320x200

Two weeks ago, we went ahead and bought an Uppa Baby Vista with a Piggy Back for about $700. The design of the Uppa Baby Vista was inspired by the Bugaboo Frog. Like the Bugaboo, the Uppa Baby includes both a bassinet for infants and a seat for babies and toddlers. The seat can face forward or backward and is considerably higher than other strollers. The handlebar is adjustable. The Uppa Baby is lightweight. With the seat attached, it weighs about 23 pounds. It folds easily and only takes up half of the back of our Subaru. Like the Mountain Buggy and other well-designed strollers, the Uppa Baby Vista is built to last.

The Bugaboo strollers are great, but the designers of the Uppa Baby have improved on the Bugaboo in several ways. First of all, the Vista is the only stroller we could find that can be a single, double, or triple stroller. This spring, Uppa Baby is introducing a Rumble Seat that will attach to the Vista frame behind the seat. Second, the Vista is less expensive than the Bugaboo. A new Bugaboo Cameleon costs $899. The new Uppa Baby costs $659 and included several accessories that are not standard with the Bugaboo. We found the Vista and the Piggyback on sale for a little less than $700 including tax. Third, unlike the Bugaboo, the Vista can be folded with the seat attached. This is really helpful for travel.

Although we’ve only had the stroller for a few weeks, it is already making life easier. Asher and Micah love being able to hop on and off the Piggy Back. Zephan loves the cozy bassinet and has been sleeping in it everywhere. The basket under the stroller is roomy enough for me to do grocery shopping. The seat is high enough that when I took all three boys to the zoo last week, Micah could stay in the stroller and still see most exhibits. I no longer feel like I need to go to the chiropractor every time I put the stroller in the car. Most of all, I love the flexibility. The stroller can be exactly what we need it to be depending on what we are doing and who we are with. I love it.

The only downside? I wish we had bought this stroller first so that we didn’t spend over $1,000 on other strollers that didn’t meet our needs!

Questions to Ask When Buying a Stroller

1. Is it flexible? Most people we know will have more than one child. There are now several strollers, including the Uppa Baby Vista, the Phil and Ted’s Vibe and the Baby Jogger City Series, that are designed to convert from single to double or even tripple strollers. Likewise, can the stroller be set up to accomodate children of different ages and needs? While the travel systems are designed to accomodate infant seats, many other strollers can also fit an infant seat with an adaptor.

2. Is it easy to use? Does it fit in your car and still leave room for groceries? Is it heavy? I have found that that strollers that weigh up to about 25 pounds are easy to get in and out of the car. Can you get it on and off the bus or train? Can you push it with one hand? Some strollers require two hands. As a parent, you never have enough hands. How easy is it to fold the stroller?

3. Will it last? Some strollers – like many travel systems and sit and stands – are designed to last for a few months or a few years. You have a choice: spend $100-300 on a new stroller every year or so, or buy one good quality, well designed stroller for $500-700 once. Are the wheels made out of plastic or rubber? Is the fabric washable? Does it feel sturdy? What about the warranty?

4. Does it fit my lifestyle? Think about what you need in a stroller. Will you be pushing the stroller over grass, snow or sand? If so, small plastic wheels will not work. Do you like to shop? Look for a stroller that fits through doors and can navigate through crowded or small spaces. Do you like to eat out? The Uppa Baby and the Bugaboo are designed to be at the right height to be used as a high chair in a restaurant. Do you like to travel? Find a stroller that works on an airplane, train and bus. Can you pick up the stroller in one hand while holding your baby in the other? How much stuff do you need the stroller to carry other than your kids?

I know that $700 is a lot to spend on a stroller. I think my first car – a 1984 Toyota Carolla Hatchback painted silvery-purple – cost $700! But in my opinion, spend money on a stroller that will last. You can save money in so many other areas, but a stroller needs to work harder than anything else you will buy as the parent of a young child.

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4 responses

23 02 2009
Help Choosing a Jogging Stroller

[…] Five years –  Six Strollers […]

5 05 2009
usedbaby Stroller

Great article! I’m loving your website;

9 05 2009
Karen

We’re looking into getting this!
We almost bought the Phil and Ted’s E3 when we had just Judah and Asher, but held off when my SIL gave us a (*cough*piece of junk*cough*) old Fisher-Price stroller to use. My c-section incision hurts every time I push that stroller.
We tested out the Vista today and were very impressed! I love that it can accommodate three children! The only drawback, IMO, is the price. Rob just about keeled over when he found out. (With the stroller, piggy back, and rumble seat [not in yet], it will be over $1000 Canadian. Ouch.)
I’m hoping to get a few more photography gigs in the next little bit to help pay for it!

23 03 2010
Cota

Thanks for the blog, this is so helpful. I too started with a infant travel system and soon found out you get what you pay for. It lasted about 6 months and was difficult to operate the entire time. My next was a phil and teds with the double kit that worked great for a few months but it is really heavy and I kept getting stuck on the side of the road fixing flat tires. With our third on the way, we will be craigslisting our phil and teds and springing for a Uppa Baby Vista. I wish I would have started with this one and saved a lot of money!

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