Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Great Stroller Debate Continues...

I've been dreading having to choose a stroller. For one, I've never been much of a fan. I realize they're much more practical and convenient than carrying a heavy kid all day long, but strollers have always always looked like a bulky pain in the butt to me. Not to mention than once you start actually looking at strollers, the choices are staggering and you quickly get information overload.

A while back I wrote about falling in love with Bugaboo strollers, but not being able to quite justify the cost. We settled on a tentative plan of waiting till our trip back to the US in June to buy a stroller (much much cheaper) and either relying on baby slings or having my parents bring out my step-sister's used stroller for those first few months. However that used stroller is still in my parents' attic, I have yet to ever get any description on it or its condition, it probably would be a pain for Mom to lug it out here on the plane, and Zach and I also realized that our housing allowance will be renewed in March (once we'll have been here a whole year) and that we should be able to use that extra money to buy a stroller.

So the stroller search, which had been on hold until further notice, is now back on. And the funny thing is that as outrageously expensive as Bugaboos are in the US ($500-$800 compared to many many models that are under $200), they actually are fairly par for the course price-wise for Europe and thus not terribly unreasonable.

I was tempted at first, once again, by the Bugaboo Chameleon, since it's a lightweight, compact stroller for in-city use, that also has the rugged wheels that can be used on rougher terrain like hiking trails. However I think I'll want something even more compact and lightweight for using in town. And thus, I have fallen under the spell of the new Bugaboo Bee-- cute, compact, weighs all of 17lbs and is 20in wide. I played with one today in a store and it was so easy to maneuver, and felt so small and light, as opposed to most other strollers that felt like behemoths in comparison. It costs about 800chf, which painfully enough is about average here for strollers. Checking online reviews, it's gotten pretty high marks, other than a few questions about how long a child can use it for-- it claims to be good up to a 37lb kid (~4yrs), but being as compact as it is many reviewers thought their child would outgrow the stroller long before that benchmark. I'm not sure this bothers me that much, as having something that's small is such a big concern to me when thinking of using a stroller inside the cramped stores and other indoor spaces in Geneva.

However... Probably the biggest negative is that we already bought our car seat, and it's not one of the few that's compatible with the Bee. So if we want to have a stroller that we can snap the car seat into, we have to go with the Bebe Confort brand, which has some decent strollers available that are up to 100-200chf cheaper, but they're wider and heavier. And so the debate is, do you trade the convenience of size for the convenience of being able to use the car seat in the stroller? I don't know.

The next step is for Zach and I to go to a baby store and test out the strollers together, test out all the features, do some laps around the store, and then see what we think. As for any of you mommies reading this, I would love to hear any words of wisdom you might have to share on this issue.

12 comments:

  1. We got a Maclaren Techno XLR (http://www.maclarenbaby.com/us/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=162&Itemid=88888908) and love it! There is also a slightly paired down, lighter version, the Techno XT, but we wanted the extra padding, color choices (the other only comes in gray), car seat option, etc. It is lightweight (about 16 pounds), folds easily once you get the hang of it (great for flying), and does great over bumpy terrain like cobblestone.

    However, the Bee was not yet out when I was pregnant and I am a bit jealous of my preggo SIL who is now checking it out! We rejected the other two Bugaboos b/c we heard they were terrible on public transit (plus the price!) but the Bee seems like a much more reasonable option. I would still bet that the Maclaren is more practical (folds down easier and smaller, from what I hear, and is good from birth to 65 pounds) but the Bee is pretty fabulous looking! Also, I think it gives you the option of having the baby face you (the Maclaren does not).

    As far as the carseat option--eh. I wish we'd skipped the infant seat all together and gone eith a combo seat that stays put in the car. But having the infant seat that snaps intothe stoller is nice for travel and some parents do seem to use it a lot. It's just not very comfortable for our little one who is on the tall side!

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  2. Wow, I'm totally overwhelmed just reading all those options! Are you going to get one of those sash/tie things that supports the baby in the position like you're carrying it, but you're 'hands free', too? My friend had one of those, and after seeing women in Africa do everything from cook to gather wood with a baby on their back, I've thought they were the coolest idea (been around a few years, but I still like it)

    And yes - definitely hoping we luck out with people who want to rent to us, but we're in a pretty 'ideal for a family' neighborhood so odds are we get the boot. :(

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  3. Get the stroller you want. You usually have to replace the car seat once your child weighs more than 13 kg anyway. That doesn't take that long.

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  4. I definitely think you have time - so no rush! Like you said, you can sling for a while.

    We are also fans of the Maclaren Techno XLR/XT. We are just really wise financially and we wanted the best for our money. Bugaboos are cool looking but like KidKate said, not good on public transport - which we use almost all the time. I don't know about the Bee but the Maclaren is good from birth and we are still using it now. It has held up really well and if it is in good shape still, we will continue to use it for the next baby!(And we use our stroller every single day.)

    We never took the car seat out of the car but I know people who do that...it is so hard to say now what your tendencies will be so I think you shouldn't feel pressed to make any decisions. You'll have time after Loki arrives to figure out what works for your family and possibly save yourself money instead of trying to anticipate what you think you might do. I definitely would not worry about the stroller/car seat combo.

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  5. I vote for the slings: specifically a mei tei or a carrier like the Beco. These can be used from birth to toddler hood. Living in NYC I found carriers much more convenient to use than strollers, except for grocery shopping, love using the stroller as a cart, and then using it to carry my groceries home.
    In reality you will most likely have more than one stroller. The Bug is great for long walks, and will be good on cobble stone or uneven streets, but it is a PITA on any kind of mass transit. Get the Bug, not the bee and resell it later. Then you can get a lighter stroller later. Unless you and your husband are tall, my husband is 6'2", you may be able to just get the Quest from MacClaren a little lighter and smaller.
    I have the Techno and the Peg Perego Venezia, but I wish the Phil and Ted had been out when DD was born, I would have just gotten that.
    I really stressed about the stroller decision, I think because I was looking for a "womb replacement" vehicle. Which is just impossible. Go with a cute baby carrier, and maybe a cheap stroller to pop your carseat into. Good luck!

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  6. Though we had a stroller, we hardly ever used it for the first 6-8 months or so. We always carried A in the sling. It is so much more comfortable, easier for getting around town, and she loved it. We still use the sling at 18 months, but I also use a stroller now just because 20lbs is a lot to carry, even with the sling. The great thing about the sling is it's easy to nurse in as well.

    I have two slings - new native baby carrier and a mesh ring sling (zolowear). I love both, for different purposes.

    We had a maxicosi car seat from CH, so it didn't work with our stroller anyway. We like our stroller - basic Graco thing, super lite, nothing special, but I've definitely gotten more use out of our slings. Frederic uses the sling all the time too.

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  7. Oh, let me add that I did use a stroller when in CH - an umbrella stroller - on our recent trip (on the earlier trips I always just carried A in the sling). It was great for just walking, but was AWFUL when going into shops. It didn't fit, or there were stairs, and I didn't like leaving it outside.

    If you do buy a stroller, get a light one! You *will* end up carrying it from time to time.

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  8. I checked out the Bugaboo Bee site you linked to and I say get that one. My mother-in-law got us a Graco stroller that was compatible with the car-seat and it worked great, although it is a giant and is tricky to maneuver through tight spaces. Also, we stopped using the car-seat with the stroller at about four months, so that's no longer a perk. Get the one you want, there'll still be times you'd rather use a sling.

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  10. not a mom but happened to see this link on a design site today, thought it might help

    http://nymag.com/shopping/features/43312/

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  11. jessica7:29 AM

    even if there was enough room to maneuver a stroller down the aisles of migros, do you think they are going to stand aside and make room for you!? (maybe they will. maybe i need to get pregnant too. maybe its the secret!) get the bugaboo

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