Monday, July 13, 2009

Stroller & Car Seat 101: Post 1 of 3

As a former Baby Products Buyer I get asked tons of questions about baby gear from my newly pregnant friends. I can tell you all about the stuff you need - just not what to do with the baby once it comes home! Lately I have been getting questions about strollers and car seats so I thought I would compose some thoughts and tips on choosing a stroller & car seat since they kinda go hand in hand.

Most new parents (read Dads) think they are going to get away with just having one stroller. While this sounds good in theory, good luck finding something that will accomplish every single one of your goals and needs. You can pretty much expect to end up with at least 2 strollers, one full size and one umbrella. For the purpose of this post I will break down the stroller categories as I see them:
  • Full Size Luxury Stroller - These high end strollers have all the bells and whistles. Most have a reversible seat and the option to attach an infant car seat. You get a big price tag to go along with the stylish look.

  • Single Stroller - Will get you some of the luxuries and most of the time you can fit your infant seat on here as well

  • Jogging Stroller - Great for those on the go, what was once a 3rd stroller is becoming more popular as an everyday choice.

  • Travel System - Great for those on a budget or first time parents. You get a single stroller and infant car seat all in one package and in a matching fabric!

  • Frame Stroller - This is a metal frame that you can attach your infant car seat to. While not that stylish it doesn't cost a whole lot and is pretty practical

  • Umbrella Stroller - Easy to fold and take places, this one is a necessity for traveling ans short trips to Target.

Now for car seat categories. Because your car seat choice can influence your stroller choice and vise verse.

  • Infant Seat - A small, rear-facing seat that fits a baby up to 22 or 30 lbs (depending on the brand and model). Many infant seat will fit into a single stroller or frame carrier to allow for easy transport. Baby sleeping in the car? No prob, just click the car seat into the stroller and you never have to wake them! If you want to save $ you can skip straight to the convertible seat but just know that you will not have as easy of a time getting in and out.

  • Convertible Car Seat - Your baby may grow out of the infant seat before they are 1 year old and ready to face the front. In this case you will need a convertible seat. They are just like they sound, face the rear for babies and then turn around to face the front for later. They usually support children from 6 lbs all the way up to 40 to 80 lbs

  • Booster Car Seat - These seats simply boost your child up so that the car's safety features work properly. They use the seat belt to restrain instead of a harness like an infant seat or a convertible seat

Tomorrow I will go over the different combinations of strollers and car seats that work for different lifestyles. Have a friend that just found out the are expecting? Forward them this post for some basic info that is surprisingly hard to assemble from other sources.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Hey Kim! Just thought I'd add my thoughts/experiences (as a first time mom) in case that helped anyone out!

We have a travel system - The car seat part is great, but I think we've used the stroller once. Maybe twice. It's just way to big to be practical - no way I could do it by myself. And at 9 months, he's already outgrown the infant car seat so we bought a convertible (Britax Marathon). I think the infant car seat is a must when they're little because you can take them into restaurants in it, bring them in the house, etc.

We also have a jogging stroller and well, we've also probably used that once or twice too. But that's a we-don't-exercise-as-much-as-we-should issue. Not necessarily a stroller one. Ha.

We also have an umbrella stroller. Well, I guess its not really an umbrella stroller. It's a lightweight one, but it's so lightweight that we use it as an umbrella stroller. It's a Jeep one (Cherokee Sport Lightweight) and we LOVE IT. It totally replaces the other stroller and was about 1/4 of the price of it. We have taken it on 4 flights - thru the airport each time and gate checking it. And the boy just loves it. He can sit up and see out, lay down and nap, etc. And it has room for our drinks and keys. We have taken it shopping, though not at Target because, well, I can't leave that store without a cart full and it's impossible to push a stroller AND a cart, so he sits in the seat of the cart (with a cover, of course). If I were to pick just one to have, this would be it. Though we started using it when he was 5 months old. I guess before that we didn't really use a stroller. We carried him or had him in a baby carrier.

Sorry it's so long! Just thought I'd add my 2 cents! Hope that helps!