Thursday, July 22, 2010

Buying a stroller: Some points to consider

Since my friend and soon-to-be yummy mummy Shortcake is expecting, I've been thinking back about all those things I wish I knew before I bought some baby stuff. I know this is a little too late for you, Shortcake but I hope it'll come in useful for Baby Number Two! ;)

Buying a stroller is far more confusing than signing up to a telco plan. Some of you Malaysians may remember that fantastic Digi phone ad on confusing phone plans (Plan A got this, Plan B got that... etc etc... chee mou?) and buying a stroller is just like that.

What you should really do is look at your lifestyle, your space constraints, your budget and then look at the strollers that fit those criteria. Not start off with "Oh, should I get a Maclaren or a Quinny?" and work backwards from there, which was what I did.

Ask yourself:
- Do you take your baby out a lot alone? Or just on the weekends with the hubby? I liked our old stroller because it was light and easy for me to handle since I was usually alone with Connor.
- Do you take your baby out to the parks a lot? You might need something that can handle uneven ground. If all the walking you do is confined to the malls, you don't need a stroller that has those fancy pneumatic wheels.
- Do your grocery shopping with the baby? Then you'll appreciate a sturdy stroller with a large shopping basket. Ever tried hanging shopping bags on the stroller handle, taking your baby out to put him in the car seat and having all your shopping and stroller tip over? I haven't either but I saw it happen right in front of me. Try retrieving that your tins from under the car. Not fun.
- Is your car boot big enough for your stroller? Funny how this doesn't quite hit some people until AFTER they buy the stroller. If your boot space < stroller + shopping + bags, then either buy a bigger car or buy a smaller stroller.
- Can you handle the stroller? Not talking about just wheeling it around but you have to remember you're going to be folding/unfolding and lifting it into the car boot for a long time to come. I am besar dan sihat but I can imagine a very slight, petite mum might have probs with our current stroller.
- Do you have space in the house for the stroller? A question to consider especially if you live in a condo. Toddler + stroller = Wow, Mummy this is the BIGGEST push toy I've ever had! Wheee!!! *crash!*
- A question some people never ask themselves: Is the stroller big enough for your baby? The Combi was supposed to last Connor till he's 2yo but he outgrew that before he turned one and Connor's not even big.
- Does it have the Zzz Factor? If it does, yay! Add 2 more hours to your shopping time! Shopping + Sleeping toddler = maxed out credit card

Our first stroller was a Combi travel system (ie stroller +car seat). I picked a travel system because we travel mostly by car. All we had to do once we arrived at our destination was to pick up the car seat, with Connor usually still asleep in it, and click it on the stroller frame. Ta-dah! Connor's sleep was undisturbed and I could shop in peace.

Once he outgrew the Combi, we bought a Phil & Ted's Vibe. Why?
- Safe and comfy for Connor
- Has some Zzz Factor. Crucial because I can only shop for clothes when he's asleep. He's male. Hates clothing stores.
- BIG basket underneath to stash all my grocery shopping and diaper bag. Great because I'm usually alone with Connor and this means I don't have to haul all the bags myself.
- Very sturdy, can't see it tipping over. Never tried though!
- Height-adjustable handle. Very useful because there is an 8" difference in height between Mummy and Daddy.
- Very easy to maneuver despite its size
- Doesn't rattle the heck out of Connor when I take him off-road to the park
- On SALE! Teehee... got it like 40% off. Otherwise I never would have considered it.
- The company is called Phil & Ted's Most Excellent Buggy Company. Dude, how la to not buy from a company with such a good sense of humour!
- For those of you who care, it is not bad in the stylo-mylo stakes. It's not something high up on my list though otherwise I would have plumped for the Stokke Xplory.

In other words, it fitted our lifestyle, our budget (post-sale price), our baby and we had the space for it.

Cons: Bulky, have to always carry my bicycle pump around for the pneumatic wheels, had to give up buying a Suzuki Swift because cannot masuk boot (I like driving small cars), harness a bit fiddly, bloody expensive without sale.

I don't really bother with the accessories because I don't use them. Stuff like the raincover, sunshade... don't meet a lot of mums in KL who wheel their babes out and about in the tropical heat and rains. One accessory I found really useful is the fan. It's got foam blades so it doesn't hurt the little one and makes a lot of sense in our weather. Another good one to get is the bottle holder. Everything else goes into the stroller basket.

So before you buy your stroller, think about some of the questions I've listed above. I've asked myself some of those questions, some were asked by fellow newbie mums. Take your list of answers into the store when you're shopping.

Happy shopping!

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