Here is our stroller, getting a cat scan. Hey, we had to test it out and make sure everything was working. Right?
Trying to figure out the best stroller for us, out of the I don’t know how many gazillion there are out there, is hard work! We started looking back in May, schlepped out to a Babies-R-Us in the burbs. The trip was long and overwhelming in many ways but mostly in trying to understand what we actually need versus what the world *says* we need. Babies, like weddings, are big business and much money is to be made from first timer’s with no experience with kids what-so-ever and all their relatives and friends. The reality is, I think most of it is a bunch of crap. There’s a reason why our wedding was offbeat. I expect our pregnancy and parenting will be pretty offbeat too.
So while at BRU (as parenting sites everywhere call it) we dodged dozens of other couples doing the same thing we were. We tested out a few different styles and found that we really liked the jogging stroller for it’s sturdiness and maneuverability. But beyond that… we didn’t know much. One was too big, this other type had a locked front wheel. We thought about weather in Chicago and 12″ of snow and trying to get little tiny wheels through shoddily shoveled sidewalks and street plowed drifts at corners. We knew that plastic wheels wouldn’t hold up, and especially not those tiny little ones that were only like 6″ round. We found one travel system (that’s a stroller and infant seat) that seemed affordable and doable. It didn’t fold easily, but we thought surely that’s just cause it’s a floor model and gets beaten up on a daily basis. So we figured we found what we were going to get, but would keep our eyes open just in case.
Over the next few months we became obsessed with strollers. Eyeing every jogger-style that passed us, noting names and colors and size. Did the parent look like they were struggling? Did they seem to like it. We became more brave asking questions and noting the answers. Then we found someone with the one we were thinking of getting and they told us… Oh NO! They hated it. It had wonky wheels and didn’t collapse well. They were getting rid of it and buying a new one as soon as possible. This actually coincided with a lot of reviews we’d read on it. Suddenly we were back to square one.
Then, one day, I was at a bike shop searching for a specific type of basket for my new bike. I entered this store, found what I wanted and had them put it on. While I was waiting, I decided to check out the strollers they sold. They were called the Bob. It was nice. Its moves were smooth like butter. One hand to spin it ’round. One move to adjust this or that. So simple compared to the one we had thought about. And a sales guy came over to give me more info. He showed me how it collapsed… only two steps! And all the other features. I was in awe and love and then I saw the price. This stroller was twice the cost of that system we had thought about and it didn’t have an infant seat! But the big 16″ wheels made me swoon. Yes, I said swoon over big air-tire wheels.
When I got home, I started researching it. Does this company make other strollers? What colors do they come in? Reviews? I needed more info. I told Bob909 about it. (Amused at the name.) We found that REI sells them, and he is a member so he gets a discount. That just made it a possibility.
Over the next few months I started noticing them everywhere. Everywhere. This along with one other brand were easily the most popular ones around. Was it because I think all the others are crap? Or was it because they’re really that good. So again, I started asking questions. And everyone I asked said the same thing, they swore by them. The best investment they made. They hold up to 70lbs (more than any other stroller I seemed to come across) meaning you can use them up to 4 and 5 years old.
When I stopped to think about it. My road bike was $800 new; I’ve had it for 5 years and I can’t even use it every day. This will be used every day, probably for a good 3-4 years at least. But most importantly, it seems everyone we know discovered the first stroller they bought was crappy or it wore out, or it was outgrown within a year or so. Especially those travel systems. Then they had to buy a new one because what they bought initially didn’t fit their lifestyle. Of the people we talked to with the Bob, many wished they’d bought the Bob to begin with as it would have saved much heartache and frustration.
After much thought and comparison, we decided to get the Bob at REI. We managed to luck out and get an additional little discount on it as well, so that definitely sealed the deal. My dad, who was up for a visit and took us to get it, bought it for us as a baby gift. Incredibly sweet of him and completely unexpected. Also, fortunately, my brother still had his son’s infant seat which he is giving to us so we managed to balance out the price difference pretty reasonably when it comes down to it.
I think this is the problem with BRU and places like it. They have so many options, which is good for ease of shopping, but they don’t have everything. In fact, I’d say the majority of stuff I saw I would consider lower end and not that great a value. When buying things like a stroller and crib and such, you have to think of the investment of it. How long do you want to use it for? If it’s a crib, do you buy a crib then a bed later or a 3, 4, 5 in one? It depends on your situation. Your life and how your baby will fit in there. Shop like you would for a car. You do plenty of research and talk to people about those. You go to different dealers to test drive and look at different models and bargain for the best price. You have to ask important questions such as “Will it hold up? How sturdy is it? and Does it fit *my* needs”. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the price of things and wanting to make quick easy decisions because life won’t be a cake walk much longer. Marketing and business are always making claims you need something, it’s hard to see what is true or not.
So take your time and research. You’ve got 9 months to figure it out!