Probably the #1 question we get (after “can my baby be on the cover?”) is “what stroller should I buy?” It’s a combination of the fact that there are so very many out there, and that it’s such a pricey item. After all, if you buy a bottle that your baby rejects, that’s $6 to $10 down the drain. But if the set of wheels you pick ends up being a dud, you may have wasted a couple hundred dollars (or more!).
It’s impossible to point to any one stroller and say that it has everything. The ones that turn easily and roll smoothly are more expensive, and heavier to lug around. The ones that are lightweight and easy to lift often don’t fully recline for a newborn, so are best for toddlerhood. A car-seat carrier—basically, a stroller without a seat, which you sit your car seat on top of—is fantastic for the first few months, but isn’t going to take you to baby’s first birthday. A travel system (stroller and car seat that go together) comes close to being perfect, as long as the brands you want for each are the same or compatible.
So here, in a nutshell, is what we tell friends who ask for stroller-shopping advice. First, be realistic about your budget. It’s odd that as our economy tightens, stroller prices climb. We can count more than a dozen brands that sell a stroller for more than $500. But if you can’t go there without falling into debt, aim lower. There are good models for a lot less money.
Second, if you have mom friends who live like you do, check in with them. Stroller preferences are regional. Here in New York City, we see a lot of UppaBaby, which have sturdy wheels and some weatherproofing (because most of us don’t have cars!). In much of the country, though, Graco is king; their strollers are affordable and easy to get into your vehicle. If you go to the mountains, however, you’ll see a lot more Baby Jogger and BOB strollers, which roll along trails. See what moms like you use, for a reality check.
JJCole's new Monroe stroller, out in 2012, will be priced under $200.
Third, decide on one thing that’s vital for you. We know you want everything, but pick: Is price the bottom line? Ease of fold? Size of basket? Color or pattern? Snack tray or cupholders? Is the brand first and foremost? Once you figure out your priority, put your blinders up and don’t get distracted by strollers that don’t offer what you’re looking for.
Finally, go push the stroller you’re considering in-person. It could be in a store, or you could just road-test a friend’s ride. Online shopping is everything these days, but there’s no substitute for walking behind a stroller to see how it feels. When you find one you like, you’ll know it. And even if it’s not 100 percent right for everyone, it will hopefully be perfect for you.