I got to ride in an adult-sized stroller because sometimes life really is that awesome

When Contours Baby* contacted me and asked if I would perhaps be willing to come downtown to witness and/or experience FCB Chicago’s latest brainchild for parents allowing them to test strollers in a real way, I was intrigued because how do we actually know if a stroller is comfortable or not? (Babies are notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to critiques of stroller ergonomics.) When I found out this would entail me hopping into – and being pushed in – an adult-sized exact replica of their flagship stroller I almost fell out of my chair in excitement.

Oh, who are we kidding? I absolutely, literally, fell out of my chair in excitement.

You see, after 19 months (whaaaat?!) of pushing another living being around in an ergonomically-designed wheeled contraption there was nothing – nothing – I wanted more than to experience this bliss myself. And wouldn’t you know? The name of the stroller model is literally Bliss. I’m talking fate, people. Kismet, if you will.

I know that's exactly what they described, but I will still never be able to handle it.

I know that’s exactly what they described, but I will still never be able to handle it.

The nice folks over at Contours had described the concept as a “full-scale, adult-sized, exact replica of the stroller,” and so I’m not sure why I was so shocked to see exactly that. Maybe I expected the general framework, but not all the details? But no. They spared no detail. The mesh undercarriage, the seat, the cute design on the inside of the sun shade, the mesh holders inside to hold toys (which I could only assume were to hold bottles of wine on the adult-sized one)? They were all there. Exactly to scale. Exactly as they appear on the baby-sized stroller.

The whole purpose of the day was for FCB to be able to film the stroller in action to get real reactions of people who are not used to riding around in adult-sized strollers (so their sample size was presumably pretty much any adult). They decided to film my piece down Michigan Avenue (the Magnificent Mile, for those not as familiar with Chicago, but who might have heard that term).

We planted ourselves right in front of the Water Tower, which is pretty much the epicenter of the most touristy part of the Mag Mile.

I strapped myself in with the 5-point harness because safety first, everyone

IMG_20160502_161818

Please note the lovely step stool…that fit in the undercarriage holder. Amazing.

I addressed my legions of adoring fans…

When you're famous I've learned it's always important to make time for the little people. And maybe also not call them little people. And then also realize you are in no way famous.

When you’re famous I’ve learned it’s always important to make time for the little people. And maybe also not call them little people. And then also realize you are in no way famous.

And then we set off down Michigan Avenue…

IMG_20160502_162306

I almost felt guilty about having someone so tiny push me and this ginormous stroller…

…but then realized this was pretty much the best thing that had ever happened to me. Also, karma. Or something.

Yes, moms of the world, riding in a stroller really is as awesome as we have always wondered.

Yes, moms of the world, riding in a stroller really is as awesome as we have always wondered.

People (tourists and locals alike) could not stop taking pictures. If I’m going to become internet famous, this is absolutely how I’d prefer it to happen.

Eventually I brought Wee Connor up with me into the stroller. I did my best “baby napping in a stroller” impression while he did his best “parent hating the fact that their child is napping in a stroller instead of in their crib” impression.

I'm so glad I could start being the most embarrassing human on the planet so early.

Nailed it.

The verdict? The stroller was super comfortable, the ride, while beyond understandably slow, was steady and smooth, and I pretty much had the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire life on Michigan Avenue. Also, I got to ride in a freaking adult-sized stroller, and that is every mom’s secret dream.

Thanks for the good times, Contours! I had a blast.

IMG_20160502_163213

Just your average Monday in Chicago, folks.

 

*P.S. Contours is having a $150 Spa Finder giveaway on their Facebook page right now through Friday, May 6th!

**FCB Chicago is an ad agency who partnered with Contours to enter into the Cannes Lions. An earlier version of this post stated the entry was solely by Contours.

Registry Lookback: Hindsight Is 20/20

Sophie. La. Damn. Giraffe.

Sophie. La. Damn. Giraffe.

When you have your first baby, you would be shocked at this newfound ability you have on the internet. You suddenly become a master of finding articles everywhere with something along the lines of, “10 Baby Registry Must Haves!” or “20 Registry Items You Forgot You Needed!” or “If you don’t buy or register for these items your child will in no way survive and if they do somehow make it to adolescence their chances at an Ivy League education are out the window!” [paraphrased].

I read these articles diligently, buying and putting all the items I thought I had to have on there, thinking carefully about my lifestyle, my apartment, and my baby’s future college education. Some things I struck gold on. Others? Eh. But in this 8 month (excuse me, what?!) look-back I thought maybe I could help add to the noise of the registry “must haves” list and help sift through what was worth the splurge and what wasn’t, and what was it like to have this stuff on a day-to-day-to-month basis.


Stroller: UPPAbaby Vista

  • Model I purchased: UPPAbaby Vista
  • Hindsight opinion: Go for the UPPAbaby Cruz instead
This has since been redesigned, but very similar. via

This has since been redesigned, but very similar. via (now $859)

A stroller is probably one of the biggest ticket items on a registry, and everyone has a different opinion on what you need according to your lifestyle. And the reason is because you do need different things according to what you’re going to be doing. I live in a city and use my stroller literally every day. Literally every. single. day. My friends who live in suburbs? Not so much. They opted for the travel system that includes an infant carseat. I wrote a blog post back in the day about the stroller debate and I had it narrowed down to two options: The UPPAbaby Vista and the City Mini Elite, based on what I valued most in a stroller: large undercarriage storage (the single most important thing for a stroller in my opinion), good handling, ease of use, ability to put an infant carseat on top. The UPPAbaby won out, and it is by far the stroller I see the most in Chicago (I hardly ever saw one in Charlotte when I lived there).

It's like the Vista, but edited via

Cruz: It’s like the Vista, but edited via ($499)

However, if I had to do it over again, I would still get an UPPAbaby, but I would have opted for its slightly “smaller” cousin, the UPPAbaby Cruz. The Cruz handles just as well, has just as large a storage underneath, the seat can turn and face you or out, and the infant carseat can still go on top, but the Cruz has a few key differences:

  • Cheaper – please see below re: bassinet
  • No bassinet is included. This might be a bad thing for some people, but Connor despised the UPPAbaby bassinet with the fiery passion of a million suns, unless it was attached the stroller and moving, which lasted about 2 months. The money saved on the stroller could have easily been allocated to a bassinet that was comfortable or to more coffee. Either way, it could have been spent in a much better way. I have read a lot of people have had the same experience with the UPPAbaby bassinet as well.
  • Slightly narrower – the Vista is so wide. No, seriously, it is so wide. Even when I wasn’t taking public transportation all the time in Charlotte, I couldn’t get it through aisles in stores in the mall. It handles great, but it becomes truly unwieldy in some places.
  • Lighter – no matter what your lifestyle, you will find yourself schlepping the stroller in some way, be it into your car, into a closet, onto the bus, etc. With the “normal” seat in, the Vista weighs in at 26 pounds. This is also an unwieldy, large, bulky, odd-to-hold-onto 26 pounds. The Cruz is just a little bit lighter, which would also assuage my guilt when kind strangers insist on helping me up/down stairs (Midwestern kindness never fails!).
Connor taking up too much space on public transportation. (I swear I don't do this during rush hour!)

Connor taking up too much space on public transportation. (I swear I don’t do this during rush hour!)

When I got the Vista, UPPAbaby claimed I could expand on it and add more seats, etc. to it. Then just as Connor was born, they completely redesigned the stroller and every attachment to it and unapologetically refused to make the new attachments, rumble seats, etc. backwards compatible, which means that in the future with more children, I will not be able to easily find the parts to make my stroller a 2+ kid stroller. To say this is disappointing and a slap in the face by UPPAbaby is an understatement. But nevertheless my lesson has been learned: do not buy things thinking that a company will keep its word even a year into the future. Buy for now, not for 2-3 years from now.


Infant Carseat: UPPAbaby Mesa

This is the carseat strapped into the stroller.

This is the carseat strapped into the stroller.

  • Model I purchasedUPPAbaby Mesa
  • DebateGo with infant carseat or just with a convertible carseat that will take them through toddlerhood?
  • Hindsight conclusionIf you travel a lot or need to be in cabs, the infant carseat is a godsend. Otherwise, I would probably really consider the convertible carseat option.
  • Would I buy this model infant carseat again? In a second.

As a carseat, I have 0 complaints with the UPPAbaby Mesa. (I wrote a blog post about it a while back, and all of it is still true!) It’s gorgeous, safe, doesn’t take up too much room, fits easily into a sedan, is easy to use, and, as the pinnacle of amazingness, it’s easy to install. 

I bought the infant carseat to use with the stroller. At the time I was in the market, the Vista needed attachments to use (while the Cruz did not) with their own brand of carseat (one of the major improvements with the redesign is that issue has since been resolved). I used this system a lot, but looking back on it – did I need to? When I weigh the options I think I lean down onto the side of “I’d do this again”, but not by much.

hahahahahahahaha. ha. ha. ha. hahahaha. I am so mean.

hahahahahahahaha. ha. ha. ha. hahahaha. I am so mean.

Since the invention of the infant seat it’s been almost universally accepted that babies go in the infant seat, then to a convertible carseat when they outgrow the infant one. You see this often: moms hauling their itty bitty babies in the carseats out of the car so as not to disturb them sleeping. This model is also helpful because itty bitty babies need something to be contained in for months. What they don’t tell you is this: carseats are heavy. And truly some of the most awkward things in the world to haul around for any distance longer than 5 feet. And heavy. Did I mention heavy? Because they are so heavy. Without a baby inside of them they are heavy, and then you add this baby-thing that just keeps on growing and getting heavier by the minute and this model of taking the baby out with the carseat becomes truly unsustainable. When I realized I could just put the baby in an Ergo carrier (or some carrier like that) and walk around the grocery store, my eyes were opened. Many restaurants have also stopped allowing you to put the carseat on top of a toddler seat, which is part of the appeal of the infant seat as well.

On the other hand, though, the infant seat (and specifically the Mesa) has some definite advantages:

  • Traveling – if you are traveling the infant carseat is a godsend. The ease of installation into a rental car is unparalleled.
  • Cab rides – in large cities you technically aren’t required to have the infant in a carseat, but…if you feel safer, you can have the infant seat without the base, then strap the infant seat into the stroller. This is quite ideal, honestly. While I’m strolling around town, though, I put the normal seat on since it’s much more comfortable.
  • Size – this is Mesa-specific, but this carseat only takes up one spot in the back seat of any car. I’ve had it in the back of a Prius, our Acura TSX (that we sold for our next car), our Subaru Forester. I don’t know how, but the seat somehow just fits into any car with ease.

So where do I come down on this? It’s hard to tell. After about 2-3 months, the carrying the carseat around with a baby in it (sans stroller) became almost impossible, but traveling and cab rides with the infant seat is a million times better than just having a convertible. I guess I would do it over again, but if you don’t really travel all that often or ride in cabs with a baby, I think I would advise just going straight to the convertible carseat and taking the baby out with an Ergo/carrier or stroller, since the infant seat will become a permanent fixture far sooner in your car than you think it will.


Baby Food Spoons

  • IMG_2769Type purchasedEl cheapo spoons from Buy Buy Baby. I think they were these. Later, I purchased more from the grocery store that were about the same price, I think these. (I purchased more on the pro tip from my mom that if you give them a spoon to hold they magically eat more with less fuss, so I typically use two spoons at every meal. Trust me, it works.)
  • HindsightAbsolutely do not purchase expensive baby food spoons (such as these). If the baby is hungry, he will eat off any apparatus you put near his mouth. He cares not one lick what you spent on baby utensils.

This was on the advice of a fellow mom in Buy Buy Baby when I was first purchasing spoons for Wee Connor’s first solids: “Oh my goodness, no, don’t even bother with those expensive baby spoons. If they’re hungry they’ll eat. There’s no difference at all.” This woman knew what was going on. Save that extra money on baby spoons for more coffee. In case you haven’t noticed “save the money for coffee” is a common piece of advice I give a lot.


Rocking Chair/Glider

  • Type purchased: West Elm glider
  • Hindsight: Go with a rocker/glider that is comfortable and you love. I say this is absolutely worth a “splurge.”

IMG_3637In designer nurseries nowadays I see these chic minimalist rockers that look oh-so-Pinterest-worthy. All I see when I look at that stupid thing is, “numb ass and sore neck.” After 8 months, I am still more glad of the glider I purchased from West Elm than any other baby purchase I made. Get a rocker or glider that when you sit in it you go, “ohhh, that is sooo amazing,” because even at 8 months in, you’ll be reading in it, rocking in it, and generally still spending a lot of time in it. At the beginning, you’ll snooze in it.

I love my glider. I love the way it feels, I love the way it looks. I love everything about it.

Get a rocker or glider you love. I can personally attest it’s worth it.


Baby Food Maker

  • Type purchased: Beaba Babycook Pro
  • Hindsight evaluation: I use this almost every day and love it. However, if you’re really debating on cost, an immersion blender and steam basket will accomplish the exact same thing.

I make almost all of Connor’s food because I’m a crazy person. I registered for a Beaba Babycook Pro and use it all the time.

Here’s how it works: you put the food you want into the steamer basket. There are 3 lines on the blending container, and you fill it with water (up to 2 for fruits only, 3 for meats/veggies), you pour the water into the top like a coffee maker, put the steamer basket into the blending container, plop it all onto the machine, close it, and hit the button. When the machine beeps, you take the steamer basket out, reserve some water, then blend it all up in the blender basket. It’s a one-stop-shop and makes making baby food as easy as making coffee that takes up almost no counter space. I use it to make a few baby portions at a time.

The only complaint I have about the Beaba is its capacity is limited. At first this isn’t a problem – the baby doesn’t eat a ton and so you don’t need a ton of food. But then the baby starts doing this thing called “growing” and “needing food” and you need more and more food. Or you want to make more “complex” recipes (one of Connor’s favorites is poached salmon in spinach with crème fraîche…it sounds much fancier than it actually is). That’s when you probably need something more hefty.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s all personal preference. I think the Beaba is one of the reasons I’ve really stuck with making Connor’s food, and for things like mashed sweet potatoes/parsnips, simple meat/veggie mixes, fruit purées, it can’t be beat. For larger scale makings, I cannot recommend an immersion blender highly enough. I have this one, which came with a mini cup for food processing, and it has not failed me once.

Perhaps a nice compromise would be to get the Beaba with two cooking areas, so you could potentially make more at once, or make an entire dinner’s worth of meals, but I feel like that’s getting a little too nitty gritty.

And if you don’t like cooking or making food, then spend your time and energy elsewhere! I stopped making homemade applesauce because it’s not cheaper, it takes a lot of time and effort, and the store sells applesauce in large, nice jars, already puréed. Same with oatmeal! Everything in moderation, including moderation. Vaya con dios!


Highchair

  • Type purchased: Boon Flair Pneumatic Pedastal Chair
  • Hindsight Evaluation: I love this chair. I could not have been more right in selecting this chair.

Sometimes you just get it right, and this was one of those times. This highchair has been absolutely amazing, and for all the reasons I thought it would be amazing, and then some. Here’s a quick summary:

  1. It has wheels. Why are wheels important? Well, despite telling Connor that I had read many books on French babies and their impeccable table manners he apparently is still a baby and food seems to get everywhere. Wheels allow me to literally roll him to the kitchen for a quick mopping of face and hands.
  2. There are no corners to it. Please see above re: food everywhere. No corners means that I am never digging food particles out of strange crevices because there are no crevices. Easy wipedowns are clutch.
  3. It’s the most stain resistant item in my house. I don’t know how or why, but this white plastic it’s made out of seems impervious to any and all stains, including blueberries.
  4. It has a high back, which is nice for support when the baby is younger.
  5. The cover for the table part fits in the dishwasher. This. is. so. clutch.
  6. The seat is adjustable up or down, which actually has come in handy more often than I thought it would.

Again, I am adamantly in love with this highchair. I cannot recommend it enough.


So there you have it! Those are some of the items I see on a lot of baby registries and my honest opinions on where I went right and wrong.

Do you have any must-haves or must-haves-that-shouldn’t-haves?

 

My favorite baby cold weather gear

cold cold cold coldDespite the months going at warp speed it is magically still winter. I recognize that I have literally zero rights to complain compared to those people in, say, Chicago or New England so all I’ll say is: folks, I feel ya. I’m so sorry. Hang in there. Eventually all that snow will melt and you will remember that your cities are some of the most beautiful and fun places in the world and there is, in fact, a reason you live where you live.

Does that help? No? Well, can’t blame a gal for trying, n’est pas?

After having lived in Chicago one of my obsessions is cold weather gear. I have these really awesome earmuffs with headphones built into them so I can still talk on the phone or listen to podcasts while I’m out and about. I have more coats than really should be legal, each good for various weather and temperatures. It was only a matter of time before I could start investigating cold weather gear for babies and come up with a few of my favorites. So, without further ado, here are three of my most favorite winter gear for babies that don’t involve 5 extra layers of zippers and snaps.

1. Zutano Fleece Booties

zutano bootiesSo you’re thinking, “Oh, with this lack of sleep she has finally cracked. She has gone off the rails and is now suggesting $21 for a pair of baby socks. HA!”

But hear me out. Please.

These are not just baby socks. These are the most ingenious little baby feet warmers of all time. They snap up and around the ankle (with two different options for width) which is key for a few very important reasons:

  1. They stay on the baby’s feet – which, if you’ve ever clothed a baby you know is close to miracle of God
  2. They are really easy to get on the baby’s feet – which, if you’ve ever clothed a baby you know is also a miracle of God

These little puppies are also adorable, which helps as well. Finally, they are warm, which is actually the entire point, now that I think of it. I really cannot recommend these things highly enough. You only need one pair, and you will love them more than $21 worth. I promise.


2. JJ Cole Stroller Bundler

Bonus: it actually has a little head fleece container thing in case you're a negligent mother who forgot their child's adorable hat and/or it's not actually that cold out.

Bonus: it actually has a little head fleece container thing in case you’re a negligent mother who forgot their child’s adorable hat and/or it’s not actually that cold out.

The concept of these is so simple it’s genius. Essentially this thing is a sleeping bag with holes in the back to put the straps of the stroller through so you don’t have to put your child in 45 layers of clothing because the warmth of the bundler will make him warm.

I had a bundler that was an “infant” size apparently from France that Wee Connor grew out of around 3 months old. I would probably recommend going with the “toddler” size because it’s not so huge as to be unuseful and will last you a long time. For reference: Connor is around 26″ and the “toddler” size fits him perfectly with room to grow.

I bought the “Urban” version (as opposed to the “Original” or “Arctic”) because the outside is waterproof for inclement weather and because all the moms in Chicago seem to have bought that one so I figure if it’s warm enough for them it should be warm enough for North Carolina. I have put Wee Connor in there and he has never been cold, even when we’ve been out for a long time.

(Note: apparently you should never install these in a car seat like you would in a stroller seat because of safety issues. JJ Cole also makes an infant car seat blanket thingy that is meant for that.) 


3. A good (lined) hat that buttons underneath the chin

Please note: no riding up of the hat, baby warm and snuggly, and ears are covered. It's as close to a mom win as I can get.

Please note: no moving of the hat, baby warm and snuggly, and ears are covered. It’s as close to a mom win as I can get.

When it’s really cold out hats are a must. Undoubtedly you will receive a truly unprecedented number of little baby beanies for your little one.

However, put them away until you meet warmer days. What you actually need when the going gets cold is a hat that – in some way – can be fastened underneath the baby’s chin. Not only does this mean his ears are entirely covered but the hat can’t come up and off in car/stroller/baby-wearing rides.

When the stores aren’t busy switching out for summer gear despite everyone still being in total winter mode these can be found everywhere. I got mine from Nordstrom and it was a Mini Boden. LL Bean also makes some adorable hats that are warm and perfect. The one I bought is fleece-lined, adorable, and worth every penny of the $20 it cost. Also, it came with little matching mittens that I can’t seem to figure out how to make stay on my baby’s hands.


The list is short, but those are my most favorite cold weather items for the baby that don’t involve 15 extra layers that you immediately will need to remove due to a diaper change the moment everything is zipped up.

Do you have any others? What are your favorite winter weather items?

The stroller arrived! But…

Only I got it in navy.

After much deliberation and minor breakdowns trying to research strollers I decided on the UPPAbaby Vista! I added it to my registry and in a fit of “finally getting to buy something” my mom picked it up and sent it to us! Ohmygosh. It’s so beautiful.

I had a quick trip to Chicago and the night I got back at 9:20pm it had arrived just hours prior. Visions of quickly putting it together and wheeling my dog around in it were spinning through my head.

I guess it’s a lesson everyone has to learn this lesson at least once with anything to do with baby assembly: it will take 5 times as long and it will never go right.

We take out the bassinet, figure that out right away, easy peasy. It’s freaking adorable. I’m imagining putting my cat in it immediately upon sitting it on the frame (can you sense a pattern here?). We get the frame out, put the wheels on…and then try to snap the bassinet on. One side works, one doesn’t.

Hm.

Then we take the normal seat out and same thing…the right side clip on the frame is just….defunct. You can clip anything into the left easy peasy, but the right? Nope. Nada. No dice.

Again, it’s a piece of advice I knew but I’ll say it again:

Never try to put anything together to do with the baby unless you have a leisurely 2 hours and it is within the working customer service hours of any manufacturer. Because then, and only then, will it take 20 minutes. 

I called UPPAbaby Customer Service the next day…and the woman was nice enough, said that they would immediately send a new frame and I would have to send the old frame back, once she registered the stroller with UPPAbaby for the warranty. So after sending her a proof of purchase (that I had to request from my mom), all the serial numbers, and my address/phone number…a new frame is on its way. Hopefully this one will work and I can continue my dream of strolling around my animals before the human puppy baby arrives.

While not anywhere near panic mode, it’s still a little disappointing. However, seeing as I’m going to get a new frame within a few days hopefully this is a rare glitch and not indicative of what’s to come.

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!!