The Stroller Struggle

First of all, let me tell you how wrong I was to assume that a stroller is a stroller and it doesn't matter which one you get. Cue the first time "mom-i-tude" and outlook on life. I really wish that I had done so much more research before creating my baby registry. As a first time Mom, I honestly was not really concerned with a lot of things, just super focused on being active and having a healthy baby. No one really told me that I should be looking at reviews upon reviews of products, testing them out in person, and searching for the 'Goldie Locks' of gear that I would need. We have been through 4 strollers now. Here's what I learned about each of them, the pros and cons, and hopefully information that may help you find the one you need if you stumbled here on your search for the 'perfect' stroller(s?). 

If you're looking for the 'perfect' stroller, here are some things to consider before making your purchase:

  • How much does the stroller weigh and can you lift it up high into your car? 
  • Once folded, will it fit in your car and how much room will you have left for other things?
  • Do you have room to store your stroller in your house/garage/apartment? 
  • Does your stroller fit a carseat?
  • If your stroller has different configurations, how much does each configuration weigh? Combo weight of each of the frame + seat pieces. 
  • Will you be using your stroller for city life/everyday or is it just an occasional use piece of gear? 
  • Will you be "off-roading" with your stroller or attempting any jogging? 
  • Will you be traveling a lot with your stroller? 
  • Do you need a lot of storage under your stroller? 
  • Are you planning on having more kids and wanting a versatile stroller or a stroller that is capable of becoming a double? 
  • Do you even need a stroller for your planned every day life scenario?
  • Last but not least, narrow your desired strollers down and go to a store to try them in person!

There is no 'one stroller fits all' or someone out there that will tell you they have the perfect stroller. There is a lot of give and take when it comes down to gear. Your personal use of it, and things you rate higher in value compared to others will all factor into your decision.

Here are the different strollers we went through as well as what we currently own, and thoughts for each system:

1. Graco Fastaction Fold Jogger Click Connect Baby Travel System (what a mouthful!)

This is the stroller and carseat combo that we registered for and received from our baby registry. This is the main reason we added it - two for one! Sounded great on paper...

A few weeks before the baby was due, we received this in the mail. The box was massive. Unpacked and out of the box, the stroller was even bigger once it was assembled. I remember just staring at it and wondering what I had done. At the time, we lived in a small, two bedroom apartment and it took up the entirety of the living room alone. That didn't even include the carseat!

- Had a great ride for baby due to the shock absorption since it was a jogging stroller
- Carseat snapped into stroller for easy transition from car to stroller
- Easy to push forward and backwards
- Affordable price for both a stroller and carseat

- Huge - took up our entire trunk and left no room for groceries
- Heavy - this thing was too heavy for me to lift in and out of the car by myself (had a c-section)
- Handle was not height adjustable
- Easy to turn but has a wide turning angle
- Not easily used as an everyday stroller for city life
- Cannot access basket at all when carseat is clicked into stroller

Because I couldn't really use this as an everyday stroller, I began searching for a lighter weight option that I could use for going out and about with baby, and that was compatible with our existing carseat.

2. Graco Breaze Click Connect Stroller (our second stroller purchase)

Our umbrella stroller - super light weight and compact when folded. Honestly, this stroller was a dream to push around compared to the jogging stroller above. I thought I'd found the dream team combo with this purchase. And honestly, I could have gotten by with just these strollers, but I noticed that my trip to the grocery store was being impacted. 

I wasn't baby wearing at the time, and kept the baby in her car seat for easy transfer into stroller. This meant that grocery runs were limited to items I could carry in a hand held shopping basket or what I could get in the stroller. Which turns out, was not much because the access was, again, restricted when used with a carseat clicked in.

- Super light weight
- Compact fold for easy storage in trunk/house
- Easy to push

- No adjustable handles
- Small basket - no access with carseat clicked in place

This stroller really was a game changer, but I started to realize that I had other needs performance wise as well as long term desires from what my stroller could do. So I started Googling strollers. I was immediately overwhelmed with all the different types of strollers you could get, and all of the brands out there, who also had their own family of different strollers.

I decided that I needed to go somewhere and try out a few in person to see what I was getting myself into. So we headed to Buy-Buy-Baby and went to the stroller section. Even there, where their supply is limited, I felt paralyzed by the options in front of me. I pushed, folded, picked up, carried and turned all the strollers. I spent almost two hours, I think, playing with the different strollers.  There were a few that definitely stood out build/quality wise and one that I ultimately decided to splurge on considering our decision to have more kids sooner rather than later.

3. UPPAbaby Vista Stroller (our unicorn)

What led us to the decision to invest in a stroller was a review of what we didn't like about our current gear, whether or not we wanted to deal with those annoyances long term, and how much $$$ had already been invested in all of the gear across the board that we were ultimately unhappy with.

We knew we wanted something that was light weight, a large accessible basket, flexible seating options, but also had the ability to convert to a double stroller should we need it. This stroller system has been amazing. We still own this and use it on a daily basis. Now I know this stroller is technically heavier than the Graco Breaze, however, it's not that much heavier. The frame is very light without a seat attached to it, and makes loading into the trunk super easy. You won't have a seat attached to the stroller for awhile anyway until your baby outgrows the matching infant carseat (which you do have to purchase separately).

- High quality materials and construction
- Easy fold
- Largest basket I've ever seen on a stroller
- Light weight considering that it can be a double stroller
- Flexible seating options with forward and rear facing seat options
- Heigh adjustable handle bar
- Comes with a Bassinet seat, rain cover, and bug net cover too!

- No snack tray (sold separately)
- No cup holder for Mama
- Large size when folded, but smaller than the Graco Jogging stroller 
- Expensive $$$

Once we received this in the mail, we found new homes for our other strollers and carseat because our apartment was getting crowded! It was nice to have just one stroller folded up off to the side. Fast forward a few months, and we found ourself being homeowners (yay!) and with lots of space. Definitely had some regrets about getting rid of the other strollers so fast, but we seriously did not have the room for them.

I know now that different situations require different gear, and it really is hard to be prepared for all scenarios. The UPPAbaby Vista has definitely been a workhorse for us. This stroller stays in the trunk of the car. And we currently bring it when flying (while the carseat still fits the baby).

The only complaint that we found with this stroller is that it's not really great for off-roading. This means that most hiking/camping trails will not be friendly (which is very much part of our core lifestyle). Which leads us to our fourth and final purchase...

TIP for buying: Wait until the end of the year around Black Friday sales -- they start moving the old models for $200 off, which is when we snagged ours!

Now you are probably thinking..What?? I know. I know. But we had the space now and realized that a small, small niche was not being met with the Vista stroller. So that brings us back to the jogging stroller. The air filled wheels give jogging strollers a much smoother ride and they just work so much better when you are traversing tougher terrain.

- One handed fold
- Mountain bike style suspension system (yes, really)
- Has recline position
- Large UV canopy

- On the larger side when folded, but comparable to the Vista 
- Heavy
- Snack tray sold separately
- Basket is small
- $$

We fortunately snagged the BOB stroller during the Toys'R'Us liquidation and got 40% off retail I believe. This is the stroller we keep in the house and use for daily walks around the neighborhood (our sidewalks are incredibly dangerous in some places). Our baby will often nap while we are going out for our daily dog walks. If we do go someplace where the terrain is more than just concrete, we will move the BOB into the trunk and the Vista into the garage.

It seems like most families have at least two strollers to try and cover as many functions as possible. Some sort of travel system and either a lightweight option (umbrella strollers) or a heavy duty option (jogging stroller). I don't know if it's really possible to have just one!

If you read this far, I hope this helps you think about what your high priority needs are from a stroller and what to look for while shopping. Thanks!