baby proof: stroller shopping.

April 8, 2014

Over the past week, James and I have test-driven strollers in three different New York City establishments. I’m proud to report that I only suffered one low blood sugar, neon-light-induced meltdown, proving my extreme readiness to become a parent and general growth as a person.

In our first foray into the murky waters of the baby-industrial complex, we’ve smiled patiently while sales people told us that really we should be considering the Cadillac of light-weight strollers (a relative descriptor to be sure). We’ve flung filthy 20-pound baby dummies into strollers that cost more than a flight to Australia (or, as James kept reminding me, more than his dream surfboard), and wheeled them around crowded department stores as if that’s a perfectly reasonable thing for adults to be doing. We’ve watched inane YouTube videos demonstrating single-hand folds and expanding sunshades. We’ve rabidly refreshed Craigslist pages to see if another family was looking to offload their own once-golden-now-brassy chariot for the steal of $50 off the listing price.

And more than anything, we’ve listened again and again to other people’s well-meaning advice about what is not possible. And what we need. And what is necessary for the safety of our unborn progeny.

For me the takeaway from all of this, as with most things, is to stand your ground. Get what you think will make sense for you, not what someone else told you worked for them, or works for most people.

So before I tell you what we settled on, here’s the real point: what works for me in my tiny walk-up apartment might not work for you. Hell, I might soon enough discover that it doesn’t even work for me. But sometimes you just have to take the plunge, you know?

We opted for a light-weight umbrella stroller that reclines to accommodate a wee bébé, not because it wouldn’t be awfully nice to cruise the Promenade with a shock-absorbing crib on wheels, but because folding that thing up to stash it next to the stairs along with the three other strollers in our building, and maneuvering it up the front stoop, and pulling it through multiple sets of doors held open with my more amply padded, but still-scrawny bum didn’t sound like very much fun.

And when we’re not strolling, we’ll be carrying the little bug. Or so we think.

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  • Reply Karen - Quilts...etc. April 8, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    lol – people mean well but go over board in pressing people to get what they think is best. I used to use a baby pack – strap the baby to my chest when it was tiny and then on to my back when it was larger – people thought I was nuts – but hey that was back in the 70's what can I say! worked for me and it wasn't near as expensive as a stroller

    • Reply Erin April 11, 2014 at 12:27 am

      I like your style!

  • Reply Nina April 8, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    I love your approach to all of this. And for what it's worth, that's the stroller we have and we love it!

    • Reply Erin April 11, 2014 at 12:27 am

      Thanks, lady!

  • Reply Anonymous April 8, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    I see you as more of a woven wrap type of girl. If you will be relying on the carrier lot, check out this store in Brooklyn,, they know everything there is to know about all of them. Good luck!

    • Reply Erin April 11, 2014 at 12:27 am

      I have one of these from my sister to borrow, but I'm excited to try out something with a little more support, too!

  • Reply Suzan Katzir April 8, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Our umbrella stroller worked great for us lo those many years ago. Up stairs, on to the bus, into the trunk of the car, and the kids were happy. Really, you don't NEED those behemoths and wrangling them and the kid will make your lives unnecessarily difficult. And I second the opinion on the back pack after kiddo gets past the wobble-neck stage.

  • Reply Alexa April 8, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    These are tough choices, especially when dealing with stairs and minimal storage. We were lucky to borrow some baby items (Baby Bjorn, Co-Sleeper), etc from friends with little ones who had outgrown them. It gave us a chance to test drive items before committing and I would recommend it if you have that option. Our little one fought being carried at first and now loves it (us too!) Be patient and know that what works for you and your little one will be an evolving process. Good luck!

  • Reply Anna April 8, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Yes, stand your ground! Despite there being so much information, and so many opinions, out there it is hard to figure out what you will need and what will work best. I love our ergo carrier and I still carry my 10 month old whenever we are out and about (we also really liked the becco carrier when he was smaller). It can be so overwhelming when you are trying to plan for the life of someone you have yet to meet, but you will figure it out. Enjoy the freedom of not needing having the buy the things you don't want or need.

  • Reply picklesandchapstick April 8, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Oh, the joys of stroller shopping. I'm glad that you guys found something that suited the both of you!


  • Reply Patricia Villamil April 8, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Hi there, I never do comment but I have been a long time follower. I just wanted to give you my two cent advice since becoming a parent. It's good thinking that a light stroller would be best especially navigating around crowded city streets and climbing flights of stairs. However, do think about the small wheels, which are a pain in cobblestone streets or uneven sidewalks. My sister in law has this same stroller and as a Brooklyn dweller she always complains about it. The good thing about this stroller is the lightness and the storage, however, I do find the grips uncomfortable, the single handle bar is easiest on your wrists. As far as the babybjorn carrier I got his one for our first baby, and had to stop using it when she was around 8 months old, since it got really uncomfortable for my back and now, people are saying is not really that much safe for baby's hips and spine. We got an Ergo baby carrier for our second and it was the best choice ever. They now have the front carrier Ergo which you can use 4 different ways. It's coming out now, wished I would have waited for it, since they are not cheap, but are so worth it. I know it seems like unrequisited advice, but I wish someone would have told me about these things before I committed my purchases. We now have a Britax B Ready stroller which carries single and double seats and is light enough to navigate in cities, plus the wheel traction is pretty awesome. Good luck and can't wait to see your little one.

  • Reply Anonymous April 8, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    the best thing we ever did was sign up for amazon prime. we got a few basic things, and then once our babe came and we knew what we actually needed, it was on our doorstep in 2 days or less.

  • Reply Anonymous April 8, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Being a new (minimalist) mama, I totally understand how all-consuming and overwhelming those baby stores can be… thank goodness for online reviews and amazon! Food for thought- I'd do a bit of digging on Baby Bjorn carriers and their connection to hip concerns and overstimulation.

    Congrats on the nearing arrival of your little babe.

    • Reply Erin April 11, 2014 at 12:30 am

      Totally! I think realizing there's no one perfect product is maybe the most important lesson of all the research!

    • Reply Anonymous June 29, 2014 at 7:37 pm

      Sling as newborns and Ergo once they're big enough!

  • Reply Raquelita April 8, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    Stand your ground, girl! The baby industry is nuts. The pressure to succumb (to avoid the fear of the unknown, should you not) was ridiculous. I say "was" because we just ended up doing our own thing and loving it. I won't clamor on about our choices, though. No need to add to the cacophony! 😉

    For whatever it is worth, we love our UPPAbaby (we have the G-Lite as A only started using it when he was much older – so we didn't need the full horizontal-recline function) too. It handles beautifully compared to all the other comparable lightweights and we love how portable it is (so light! stands on its own!)

    You guys seem to have a way of graciously and peaceably stepping out of the mainstream to live your own choices. I'm just glad we get to hear about the beautiful journey.


    • Reply Erin April 11, 2014 at 12:31 am

      Thanks so much for this note, Raquelita! (And glad to hear you had luck with your stroller!)

  • Reply Popsmom April 8, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    No don't do it! First off, your little one can't use an umbrella until she is about six months, so I would suggest waiting it out for a bit. Second, I live in Carroll Gardens, in a walk up too, with a 2 year old and hate my stroller….the one you are getting. Just wait til you have the baby, I swear, that's the best, or get the thing that clips to the car seat, it's cheap. And try signing up for bococa parents, the community posting board. You won't need craigslist anymore. Good luck!

  • Reply Popsmom April 8, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    And p.s. It does not navigate well, and always gets stuck! I don't know one mom in the area who likes it. Hear great things about the MacClaren though.

    • Reply Anonymous April 9, 2014 at 1:22 am

      We have it and it works just fine in Boerum Hill. She'll be fine. Relax.

    • Reply Erin April 11, 2014 at 12:32 am

      Thanks for your notes–glad to hear from neighborhood mamas!

  • Reply Anna April 8, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    I do the baby carrier thing most of the time. Our stroller was a hand-me-down from a friend, and is a bit more bulky than what I would have gone with otherwise, though it does fold up. But that means it's a hassle to haul out and I hate trying to navigate it around things. I only use the stroller when I have more to bring than I can easily carry or if we're picking up more than a couple things at the grocery store.

  • Reply Joyful April 9, 2014 at 12:35 am

    That looks like a perfectly good stroller. In my city I see mothers with all kinds of strollers. Not too many years ago they were using a streamlined version something like this They may be easier to maneuver in and out of tight spots and on transit but they seem to have gone out of fashion. Best of luck with your choice.

  • Reply Anonymous April 9, 2014 at 1:23 am

    Just some more well meaning advice here 🙂 Stroller sounds good choice but skip the Bjorn carrier and get an Ergo or Manduca or MeiTai type one as you can use it till they're a toddler as you can back carry them (and front carry). And for the very early days I reckon you might light a fabric/ring type sling. Takes up no room in your handbag and gives you a hand free to get around and open doors etc while still snuggling them. You can probably make one for a few dollars. Best of luck!!

  • Reply E Mom April 9, 2014 at 2:53 am

    Even though I live in rural idaho, not sure if my advice is relevant…. I love the baby carriers. Anything that takes the strain off the back is good and they are so easy – just strap the baby to your chest and you're off. Plus when the baby gets older they love looking out. I only use the stroller for long walks… Just make sure you have good shoes for walking. You can always find second hand things where ever you are…

  • Reply Little Miss Know-it-all April 9, 2014 at 5:27 am

    The pressures, the pressures…
    So little you need. Trust your instincts and don't listen to anyone else (sorry!) telling you – it's subjective. Most of all, rumours about what's bad for babies – the majority have survived several thousand years of humanity in slings and carriers and barefoot without back or spine or other damage before anything like a stroller was invented, and all the rest is the baby industry advertising (look at our degenerative societies!). Keep it simple simple simple… light and foldable sounds fine but maybe you can wait till you really need it. My daughter ended up hardly ever using her baby vehicles, fortunately second hand. I used the simplest umbrella type years ago before the baby industry had really been discovered. It was fine.

  • Reply Gretchen Davis April 9, 2014 at 11:54 am

    We have that stroller and love it! It's easy to push and great for naps. Plus it really does fold up pretty small. For the most part though, baby carriers were a lot more versatile for this minimalist. We have an ergo and I think it's the best hands down. We are still using it with our two year old to carrying him on our backs.

  • Reply DontBlameTheKids April 9, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Good Lord, yes. Buy what works for you for your own needs and reasons. The stroller wars drives me nuts. In the end, I found that almost anything would work for me except the too uncomfortable, too simple umbrella stroller. Since we didn't want to drop a month's worth of daycare tuition on a stroller, we went with Graco. I still have a bit of stroller envy, now and then, but it's held up through two kids so I can't complain.

  • Reply Kirstin April 9, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    It all comes down to this: every single stroller sucks in some way. Whichever one you will buy, there will be something to complain about. So you probably made a fine choice no matter what.

    • Reply Erin April 11, 2014 at 12:34 am

      Amen, sister.

  • Reply Katharine Swanson April 9, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    The opinions around baby gear get so intense! And the sales people can be the worse. I had a person from the establishment we were registered at call and let me know my baby wouldn't survive with the few items on our registry. 18 months later and he seems just fine! I totally second the ergo/sling combo, it works from teeny tiny through to toddlers. Good luck with the baby barrage! 😉

  • Reply laurab April 9, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    one meltdown?!?! you are truly ready!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i think i would have to be baby-strollered to the nearest coffee shop by loving partner and fed whipped cream intravenously. can't wait to see the little bug!

  • Reply Meg April 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    we decided on the uppababy vista (my parents gifted it to us) before i got really into the idea of babywearing – now i have a massive stroller that i'm worried i will get barely any use out of! it will definitely still be good for long walks (living right downtown toronto, i love walking most places) but i'm betting the carrier will get a lot more use when i'm taking the subway or streetcar, rather than trying to navigate crowded public transport with the stroller 🙂

  • Reply Kristin April 9, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    I have come to the conclusion that there is no one perfect stroller. Although I couldn't fathom the possibility of purchasing more than one stroller with my first daughter, here I am 2 1/2 years later with 4 strollers for 2 children. We love love our Bob stroller, basically it is like a small SUV as far as how it rides, but we also swear by our good ol' umbrella (single and double of course) strollers. Good luck!

  • Reply Patricia April 9, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Good for you friend ! Listen only to your 'gut' , and know what's right for you….My 'kids' are now 25, 22, and 17 years old. They survived and thrived (2 in med school – the other still in high school) in a 'hand me down' , 'off brand' stroller, purchased at Toy's R Us, and spent most of their time in an "umbrella" stroller, purchased at K-Mart for $17.99 during a trip to Disney World, when I 'forgot' the stroller ! I can't imagine spending a small fortune on some of the designer brands out there – follow your instincts and they will steer you the right way…..

  • Reply Arielle Findley April 9, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    I agree with you, Erin. The best advice is not to take anyone else's advice and lead your own path down parenting lane. As much as my grandmother and mother's stories of caring for children humor me… I might only do 20% of the same things they did (sorry, mom/g'ma).

    With that being said… I'm going to drop some advice here, because I'm a mom, and you won't be the best mom ever without the world cramming their two sense into your earholes — or retinas, rather. hehe. Here it goes: Hold off on purchasing a Baby Bjorn (or any baby carrier) until you have your child, if you can. We bought one ahead of time and (since my son was–and still is–larger than average) I never got to enjoy it. The ta-ta's were squished and the little guy and I were fighting for room to breather, all while keeping him safe and secure.
    I'm done. haha.

    Hope that didn't hurt too much…

    P.S. You'll do great, no worries.

  • Reply Fey April 9, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    I learned from experience that when it comes to baby gears, you need much less than what you think you need. 🙂

  • Reply Abbie April 10, 2014 at 3:52 am

    We have the same stroller and love it – with one small design flaw that they may have changed in a newer model (ours is 2011) – the brakes on the back wheels get stuck when maneuvering up/down stairs (the subway in particular.) Other than that it is dynamite! So excited for you – hope you are enjoying the shopping for June bug as best as possible.

    • Reply Erin April 11, 2014 at 12:26 am

      Thanks so much, Abbie!

  • Reply aisling April 10, 2014 at 8:36 am

    Oh gosh, I can only imagine the minefield this is going to be. We're only trying to get pregnant and already find ourselves deep in advice and discussion about strollers! That's pretty good advice though about sticking to what's best for you – we're in the same boat, up two flights of stairs in a city where we take plenty of public transport. When the time comes I'll have to test run this model you suggest! best of luck with it!!

  • Reply Willy The Prince April 10, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Good for you on listening to your gut. As a BK mommy, I second signing up for bococa parents board you can snag good second hand stuff. I've had the Bugaboo for almost 5 years now (with my first, who now rides the buggy board and now second) and I also have an umbrella. They both have strengths – and I don't know if I could have survived without BOTH, yes, both I'm one of those. But, we live in BK and in a way our stroller IS our vehicle and a necessary evil.

    Umbrella is great for gate check at airports and to-and-from daycare, and jaunts into the City, but the two handle action makes it really hard to hold the older boy's hand and steer (which you don't have to worry about now, but it does make phone conversations difficult). The Bugaboo (which I never collapse) is great for going up and down stairs (like those beastly transit museum stairs!) good for grocery shopping and trips to the park with a lot of stuff (storage) and all around better napping situation. But, you will find out what works for you – and if you decide to get bigger wheels, bococa parents board will definitely have some second hand gems. If I did it all again I would get the City Mini. Oh, and I got yelled at one time in an airport for having my four-month old in an umbrella, so get prepared for that…. Those are my thoughts.

    • Reply Willy The Prince April 10, 2014 at 2:16 pm

      Here is the website for Bococo Parents – You send them an email to join the list. Best of luck – being a Brooklyn Mom has its ups and downs, but it is an exciting adventure.

    • Reply Erin April 11, 2014 at 12:26 am

      Thanks so much! Have heard great things about group–will definitely check it out!

  • Reply Anonymous April 10, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    We too are in a walk-up (6 floor!) and went with the Uppa Baby G-Lite, because it was the lightest weight stroller we could find…we started out with the Citi Mini for the first 4 months and used the adapter thing to put the car seat on it when my daughter was an infant, and then once we started with the G-Lite we didn't go back. But, I'd definitely get the G-Luxe if we didn't have quite so many stairs to carry it up as I love the reclining feature-but 5 pounds makes a big difference. In an ideal world we'd have space for both the Citi Mini (for longer trips, to hang grocery shopping bags from, when the baby needs to nap, etc) and the umbrella stroller but alas, yet another NYC sacrifice we've made. All of the gear is so overwhelming…

    • Reply Erin April 11, 2014 at 12:25 am

      So many considerations, eh? Glad you guys found something that works for you!

  • Reply chopsuey April 10, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    A carrier (or two) that you love will get you a very, long way. My 2 year old has still barely ridden in her stroller. I loved my ring sling more than any other piece of baby gear!!!

  • Reply Rachel Ann April 12, 2014 at 2:49 am

    Fellow new minimalist mama here (on the UWS)! We didn't even bother with the stroller until our son was 3 months old because I was too overwhelmed by all the options. Good on you being ahead of the game! 🙂 I hope you find baby carrying as awesome as we have – it is my absolute favorite (we switch between an Ergo and a Sakura Bloom ring sling because the Ergo gets HOT). Baby carrying means that hardly anything about our lives have changed while out and about – it's amazing! Happy nesting! xo

  • Reply Craftysquirrel April 18, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Welcome to the world of well meaning advice , I am sure what you got will work for you – your babe will decide what they prefer too. We used a combination of stroller and carry . My only regret was discovering an Ergo baby carrier only once our daughter was too old for one , it looks fantastic as can carry baby as front pack then back for older child and it is light weight and packs up small.

  • Reply Anonymous April 21, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    We absolutely adore our Uppababy G-Luxe stroller!!! We purchased ours when our first son was born in 2010 and are still using it with our 2nd child to this date. We have travelled + lived around the world with it and it's the only complete stroller we have purchased. It's lightweight, easy to guide, easy to clean, easy to assemble or dissemble whilst holding baby (click of a finger + a foot press and it's up or down), the storage area underneath is decent + the price is a value point! Plus, if you're tall you don't continually bang your shins onto the base when you're using it. I did however place an insert for when my sons were little. I purchased one from the brand Britax and it gave them the extra comfort + support they needed for the first few months. Also, consider buying a cheap stroller base that your car seat can sit on. That too was valuable in the first few months – baby has all the support he/she needs, and if he/she falls asleep you simply take the car seat + put it right on top of the frame + you have a stroller … it's magic + a life savior!! Babywearing was a wonderful compliment for us too. The benefits within themselves are so rewarding: We purchased the Beco baby carrier and both my children were happy to be carried + nursed in it until around 11 months. Regardless, of all the bits + pieces you buy, are given or are "told to" as complete necessities … you + your husband will find the perfect accessories that will work for you + your baby once he/she is born. Feeling overwhelmed is completely natural!!!! I started my birthing breathing the minute I walked into my first baby retail shop!!!!

  • Reply Aileen Johnston April 23, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Totally agree, you just have to do what suits you best! When we went looking for one, my criteria was that it had a big basket and wasn't too expensive as I do not understand people that spend £1000 on something that babies will eventually manage to cover in poop and/or vomit! You are going to get unsolicited advice from now on and even more when baba is born, just take what you want and ignore the rest of it. I would say if you are going to get a carrier that most of my friends really liked the Ergo (I didnt use one so can't comment!) Sorry just found your blog and find it so interesting that you live in a little apartment. We live in a little flat (although not as small as yours) and people are always fascinated that we don't have a house just because we have a child! Apartments can work with kids, you just have to have less stuff! Good luck!

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