The Stroller Debate: The Checklist(s)

think about a strollerI’ve recovered a little bit from my first stroller-shopping experience, and have come away with a little more wisdom and decision-making power.

Until I change my mind. Which could very well be in 5 minutes.

The first thing I realized about stroller/baby supply shopping is that you need to have a good understanding of your lifestyle and what your lifestyle is going to be when the baby arrives. Don’t try and shop for a house you might buy, a new apartment you might rent, or a car you are thinking about. That human puppy baby isn’t going to care that you were thinking about getting a different place to live, and cares about its comfort from the day it emerges. It was a big realization.

Related to this: you have your lifestyle and others (mom, friends, family, etc.) have theirs. When the good-natured, loving people in your life agree to go shopping with you and look at items from big to small they will, because they’re human, imagine the stuff in their house and in their life to some degree. It’s natural. You’ll do it too. It’s in your comfort zone and in your head. The problem is that you don’t have their house, nor their life. Remember that taste is not the same thing as lifestyle. So even if you have similar taste to someone, you might have a different lifestyle and thus, different needs. This is a GOOD THING. This is what makes people INTERESTING. But it also makes things frustrating when trying to pick out major lifestyle needs. So if, for instance, you live in an apartment and need things to be streamlined and multipurpose, even at the expense of something being a little less cute, that is your decision, and it is your apartment. Something that might accomplish two things but is less cute might fit better in your apartment, and you might not have the room of someone else’s 4-bedroom house. It’s almost impossible for people to grasp, but it’s something I’ve come to terms with being firm on.

So with that in mind, I’m going to give you the rundown of the decision-making lifestyle factors that the salespeople asked, I realized, and what other people seem to keep mentioning to me. Think of this as what I consider the “ultimate buying a stroller checklist that will probably need to be modified after I actually have a baby:

  1. How much are you going to stroll/walk around the city and/or parks? 
  2. Do you need to drive to get to your strolling destinations? 
  3. Do you do errands on foot (i.e., will be doing errands with a baby in tow on foot)? 
  4. How often are you going to need to drive the baby? (How often do you drive now?) 
  5. How many cars do you and your husband have? And how often do you need to transfer the car seat between them? 
  6. How big is your living space? How much storage do you have? 
  7. How often are you in smaller, crowded spaces (public transportation, smaller, city restaurants, etc.)?
  8. Is there any way you would want the stroller to have multiple uses? 
  9. What accessories do you know you’ll need and/or are important to you? 

It’s a LOT of decisions. But here’s my personal rundown.

  1. How much are you going to stroll/walk around the city and/or parks?
    A lot, hopefully. I love walking anyway, and getting a baby out and about a lot will be very fun for me. It’s literally one of the things I am most looking forward to. Right now I walk almost every morning with my husband and the dog to his work and then back again before I start my work.
  2. Do you need to drive to get to your strolling destinations?
    It depends. I live in a walkable area of a mostly driving city (Charlotte, NC). I have a great trail nearby and access to the downtown area, but sometimes I think I’ll need to branch out a little more and drive to some other trails, possibly.
  3. Do you do errands on foot (i.e., will be doing errands with a baby in tow on foot)?
    Mostly. I try, at least. I have a grocery store I can walk to, but prefer to drive once a week to the Publix 17 minutes away until the Publix goes up a mile away in 2015. But the drugstore, many restaurants, etc. I always strive to walk since I find it more enjoyable. There is a grocery store that is much more expensive and much worse in terms of quality, friendliness and choices (Harris Teeter) a mile away if I need to go there/walk as well.
  4. How often are you going to need to drive the baby? (How often do you drive now?)
    Right now I drive about 2-3 times a week, max. My husband walks to work and we try to truly limit our exposure to car time as much as possible. If we need to do errands like the mall, we’ll drive, but don’t plan on driving the baby much, since I don’t drive much on a day-to-day basis.
  5. How many cars do you and your husband have? And how often do you need to transfer the car seat between them?
    We have one car, a sedan, so switching the seat/seat base around won’t be an issue. (YAY!)
  6. How big is your living space? How much storage do you have?
    We live in an apartment that is huge by our (urban) standards that is 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, has washer/dryer (IN UNIT, which if you have never lived in a large, northern city probably don’t appreciate how awesome that is), and 2 walk-in closets. I love this apartment’s layout. So we have some storage, but do need items that are streamlined.
  7. How often are you in smaller, crowded spaces (public transportation, smaller, city restaurants, etc.)? 
    Acutally a fair amount. We try to live a pretty urban lifestyle, which can mean smaller spaces and more local restaurants. I do try and take the local light rail as much as possible, as well. In Charlotte the stroller thing isn’t a problem because there is usually plenty of room and the trains are quite wide and the access is easy. If I were back in Chicago it would be a totally different bag of tricks, with many stations not having elevators or escalators and the platforms being elevated and the trains and buses being quite crowded.
  8. Is there any way you would want the stroller to have multiple uses? 
    Definitely. It’s a big apartment, but I like streamlined, easy, multiple-use items.
  9. What accessories do you know you’ll need and/or are important to you?
    Cup holders and something to easily have my cell phone handy, ability to store stuff underneath if I’m doing errands at multiple stores, ease of use has to be high, and finally, they both have to be easy to push.

These are the things you’re going to learn why they’re important when you start shopping.

With these in mind, I narrowed my choice down to 2 options:

Baby Jogger City Mini GT UPPAbaby Vista

Price:

Price: $349.99

Price:

Price: $729.99

Big price difference? Right? I know. But it really isn’t as simple as all that. Here’s where things get tricky. I think that both of these are optimized for urban living in different ways. The City Mini is probably better in tight spaces, while the UPPAbaby has more features…and if you do ever drive, well, let me get to that. Both are equally easy to maneuver, can lie flat and be used with a newborn, and I have no doubt I would be more than happy with either option.

City Mini GT UPPAbaby Vista Point goes to…
Space City Mini takes up less space when it’s out and less space when it’s folded, BUT doesn’t stand when it’s folded. UPPA takes up decidedly more space in the trunk when it’s folded, but DOES stand up when it’s folded, which is a lifesaver when you’re in the apartment or need to fold it up in a restaurant, etc. Even. I think this one is a tie.
The actual fold Could not be easier. One handed, one and done. Just as easy to unfold. Two-handed and impossible on the first go and/or when explaining to someone else. People say you “just get used to it.” City Mini GT
What’s included? The stroller. Take it or leave it. A bassinet the baby can actually sleep in (!! see below), rain shield, bug shield UPPAbaby Vista (though things like cupholder, organization thing, etc. are still sold separately for both)
Storage Not bad. Definitely enough. The biggest I’ve seen of any stroller, and people rave about it UPPAbaby Vista
Other uses None The bassinet. The UPPA comes with a bassinet that can be used to sleep in overnight, which would eliminate the need for a separate bassinet while the baby is super young. This is a huge plus, as well as being able to wheel in the bassinet. UPPAbaby Vista
Car seat ease? You can buy an adapter and snap the carseat on, if you need, but my favorite carseat at the moment (the UPPAbaby Mesa) isn’t available You can buy adapters as well, but it seems to be a little easier on the UPPA. Frustratingly, the UPPAbaby carseat needs an adapter (puzzling!), too. Pretty even, but a slight nod to the UPPAbaby for ease of putting adapters in
Expandable later? No Yes – you can add another seat + a ride along step UPPAbaby Vista (this is the one “might” for later I want to think about, when considering the price)
Other nifty things? (Misc.) If you ever need to get on public transportation, this would be a phenomenal stroller The seat can be popped either front-facing or facing you, which is super nice and handy, and it’s easy to do to boot!

Like I said, the choice isn’t as clear as “bang for your buck.” A lot of lifestyle factors go into the stroller decision, which is why it was so overwhelming the first time. For me the strollers optimized for the “snap and go” just aren’t what I’m looking for, but I know that moms in more suburban worlds who drive a lot might like that more than I would.

I’ll keep you posted what I decide, but I know, deep down, I’ll be happy either way.

And if you have a favorite stroller, let me know in the comments below!! Love hearing from everyone!!

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