Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Life in Strollers.

I've been on a big wheel double stroller search. This is the only item on the to-buy list for this fourth babe.

I'm generally not a fan of crazy amounts of baby gear, but I'm all for the right stroller. Being able to get out with baby WITH EASE is so important. There are so many things that make it difficult to get out of the house with kids, the thought of struggling once you're on an outing shouldn't add to it. I'm not, however, into spending a thousand dollars, or even half that, on a grand baby chariot.

We had a Cosco big wheel single jogging stroller since Thane was born, a wonderful big present from Troy's parents when we didn't even have a car. The big wheels are smooth on trails (we lived beside Halifax's Point Pleasant park at the time, full of walking trails) and great for snowy sidewalks. This stroller had a great feature where the seat switched so baby could face forward or face you. It was very convenient to be able to tailor the stroller to suit the baby's mood, age, or the weather. This also meant there were feet rests on the front and back of the stroller that created an unofficial double stroller, where my toddler could stand on the back feet rest when the baby was facing forward. Unfortunately this stroller didn't make it to baby #4, by it's last days it neither switched seat positions or collapsed anymore. We decided it wasn't worth the space it would take to make the move from province to province.

I don't always need a big wheel stroller. To begin with I am a big advocate of a baby sling. My babies loved and craved that closeness, enjoying the movement and napping while being close to mama. I enjoyed being able to provide them that closeness while still being on the go, have the use of my hands, and be able to keep up with my older babies at the same time. However, as they get bigger it isn't something my back can take for long outings (and in my case a tired mama with a breaking back is not a patient mama) but I usually have the sling stuffed in the stroller bottom in case a snuggle need arises. Being tied to a plastic seat is not the most nurturing and happy place for baby.

For longer hikes and a one to two year old in tow, we have our 'baby backpack' for Troy to carry. His stronger shoulders bear the toddler better but we still have a resting place to offer the babe when their little legs can't keep going and the terrain isn't for wheels.

Somewhere along the way I discovered that umbrella strollers are indispensable for errands, the perfect 'mall stroller'. I keep one in each car all the time now, just in case. They get their name for how small they fold up, and they're so light and inexpensive. Mine are cute and orange, and were less than $40 at Zellers. You can get them for $10, but I find those ones not quite tall enough for me. For this baby I plan to get a set of stroller connectors also, inexpensive removable attachments that connect two umbrella strollers to make one double.

When Claire was an infant, I stumbled upon the Snap N' Go stroller base. Since they don't recline or have a lot of support, umbrella strollers don't work for newborns but the snap n' go filled the errand stroller void for those six months. Mom can take the infant carseat from the car without removing baby and just place it on the stroller base, where it snaps in place. Since it really is only useful for maybe six months I wouldn't recommend spending the retail ninety dollars for it, I was pleased that I scored and found it for $40 on Kijiji. I will probably be able to turn around and sell it again for the same.

And that leads me to why I want a double big wheel stroller. It's not for the mall or errands, they are comparitively heavy and really don't fit in the trunk well, at least not leaving room for groceries by any means. I would like a stroller that will fit both the new baby and Claire for walks, the kind of walks we do everyday from our driveway. When Claire was born I still lived in suburbia and did a lot of sidewalk walking and thought about buying the Joovy Caboose for my two littlest ones. Now though, the trail near our house is gravel and the little Caboose wheels just won't be optimal, and Claire is a year younger than Seth was at the time, so I think she would benefit from her own seat rather than the back sit or stand choice.

Now what KIND of a big wheel double stroller? I think I'd like a side by side because one behind the other can get very difficult to steer, and for my use I'm not worried about the width and fitting through doors. Really, I'm still holding on to finding something second hand for under $200. Unfortunately, I think a million other people also have this in mind. My rural shopping grief extends to my online second hand Kijiji shopping, the selection just isn't there and there are more wanted ads than for sale. Since I still have my Halifax family to do pickups for me though I've been scouring the Halifax Kijiji, but without much luck even there. I've found mostly small wheeled doubles, or really high end big wheel doubles, like the Bob Revolution. This stroller crossed my mind, at $850 new the seller was asking $500 for the used one. I'm having a little indecision on this one because with it's high end quality and popularity I probably could still sell it later for a fair amount. I've thought about just getting a bike stroller/trailer. I could use this to push when walking or behind my bicycle and they retail around $160, but the seats don't look very comfortable or fit for a newborn. There's also a Baby Trend Expedition double at Toys R' Us for $260. I checked it out in person the other night and it doesn't feel like it's lacking in quality. It strolls and steers smoothly, each seat reclines seperately, it's light enough, and folds up easily. It is also comparable to used prices I've been finding, but then my ethical issues arise. Surely I can do my part for the environment and reuse a stroller already out there, it seems so silly to buy baby gear new when you use it for such a short period, and sometimes low prices indicate deeper trouble warnings. Annie Leonard's voice reverberates in my ear, "How can I get an item priced this low? Someone paid for it, in lack of benefits, low salary, through environmentally or socially irresponsible big company shortcuts in the name of low prices."

Thoughts? Stroller experience? Pass it on, I'm eager to hear how you tote your littles around!

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