I need a lightweight, cost-effective stroller — what’s your favorite?

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Photo by midnightcomm, used under Creative Commons license.
There are about 100 million strollers out there. I am four-and-a-half months pregnant with my first baby and all I want is a “normal” stroller. All I see are giant, two lane, SUV type strollers that cost around $600. I just want something that will allow me to walk with my baby and maybe let me pick up some vegetables at the market. Something compact, affordable, and functional from infant to baby that won’t be hard to get up two flights of stairs to my apartment. Does this exist?

What are the strollers other Offbeat Mama’s are using that don’t require their own vehicle just to move them around? — Vivi

Comments on I need a lightweight, cost-effective stroller — what’s your favorite?

  1. I absolutely love my Baby Jogger City Mini, its not actually a jogger but it is so versatile. The thing that sold me on it was its ease of folding, and it is lightweight. Its a pain because any attachments (ie to hold car seat, child tray) cost extra but you can get a basic set up for $250 (car seat holder, and stroller) on amazon, less if you shop your local CL and get used.

    People that see me put my stroller in my trunk are amazed, you can do it one-handed and holding your child. Its 3 wheels but very manueverable. While many people are tempted to go with the ease of the combo car-seat stroller dealies, just think, you can only use that car seat for 6 months and then you are stuck with the matching set. The City Mini lasts longer overall and it really wasn’t bad using it with a car seat.

      • I agree! I used the city mini from birth (well, about three weeks) with my daughter, and it’s worked fine because it reclines almost completely. I kind of miss being able to have her face me as I push her in it, but I can look at her through a window in the top. It also worked fine for my four-year-old niece when she visited us so it’s VERY versatile!

    • I bought a $50 umbrella deluxe stroller from Walmart. It’s more sturdy than very cheap umbrella strollers and can carry up to 50lbs. It’s great and very space efficient. Drink holder area for mom too.

      • I probably own the same one as you. The Ignite? My only complaint is that theres not much space in the undercarriage, which only, matters because I don’t have a car, for carrying groceries.

    • I second this suggestion. I did buy the car seat/stroller combo when my son was born & did not get a lot of use out of it. My son was (is) 98%tile height/weight, so he outgrew the infant car seat quickly. Then I was left with the stroller that had a few design flaws (in my opinion). I ended up buying a City Mini & *love* it. Great design, easy to fold & carry plus the sunshade on it is great. What I wish I did from the start – buy the carseat & the frame it can snap into (Snap n’ Go? Is that what they’re called?). That way, you can save your money for the stroller you really, really want & will use the most out of. I just felt the stroller that came with the combo was so pointless. Hope this helps!

  2. I agree. Got the city mini in black and I can load it into car with one arm while holding baby. It’s 16 pounds as opposed to the 27 pound BOB or Britex. And it has good storage underneath for my bag and ergo (which gets used more than the stroller:)

  3. i absolutely second the city mini recommend. they didn’t come out until my kid was about a year old, for the first year we used a snap-n-go frame with the carseat because it was cheap, gave us another year to figure out what we would need long term, and had a really good storage basket underneath. the city mini also has wheels that are very easily removed to make it fit in an overhead bin on a plane. also, if you do have one of these and fly with it, the check-in people might tell you it’s a jogger and has to be checked, it is not, the wheel diameter is not jogger size and it’s within regulation (hopefully no longer an issue now that they have been around longer).

    • it also lays nearly flat for napping and has hands down the best sun shade on the market, it’s like being in a little tent with optional windows on top. when my daughter was still really little, i tucked an airplane sized pillow behind her for a better fit while sitting.

  4. Anyone with double stroller ideas? I have a 12 month old that I use a Becco Gemini with most of the time but he’ll be 18 months when his little sibling is due so I think I’ll need the flexibility of seats for both for groceries and stuff. we walk everywhere and live downtown.

    • We bought a Joovy Caboose which is a sit/stand stroller as a double stroller for our nanny share. The kids are 6 months apart so not exactly the same situation, but close. They don’t recommend it for kids under 2 but you can do it before then (we did by a few months. However, if you wear baby out for the first few months (something you’ll likely love doing anyway) then by the time baby is ready to sit up and watch the world, older sibling will be ready to sit and stand on the back and watch the world go by. And while you’re wearing baby and the older is riding in the front seat it makes the best carting stroller ever with a huge basket underneath and plenty of room on the seat for stuff too. We have used it to carry home 20 packs of moving boxes from Uhaul without the slightest difficulty.

      The footprint is less than the BOB stroller, so a little larger than an umbrella, but not as large as a jogger. And it fits beautifully on the bus. Our nanny loves it and the kids happily take turns taking front and back. It can get heavy with 2 kids, but come on how can you have a 20 lb stroller with two 30+ lbs kids (total of 80lbs) and it *not* be heavy?

      I would gladly give up both of our umbrellas for just this.

      • We’ve got a sit-n-stand too, although I didn’t start using it until my youngest was out of the carseat and could sit up in the front stroller seat. I liked that the back jumpseat has a seatbelt that goes between the child’s legs, so I could strap my daughter in if I needed to (see had a tendancy to want to jump off the stroller and walk while we were in the middle of crossing the street)
        The only thing I didn’t like was how hard it was to turn with 2 kids sitting in it. When she got a bit older, my daughter preferred to walk and hold my hand, and just use the stroller when she got tired or we had to cross the street, but because the front baby sits so far forward, it puts all the weight at the front of the stroller and you can’t turn it one-handed at all.
        We got ours used from a consignment store, which might have something to do with it, but I also didn’t like how quickly the wheels started to squeak, no matter how well we tried to take care of them.
        Over all though, the sit-n-stand was still worth it. It enabled my oldest to walk when she wanted to, instead of being strapped into a big double stroller where I would have to stop and lift her out. She could just climb on and off on her own. It was also much easier than our big Graco double stroller to get on and off the bus, and fit much better, too.

      • I second the baby jogger city select mostly because you can use it as a single or double but lots of other reasons too. It is quite lightweight and narrow for a double and enormous basket. Check out the video (http://www.babyjogger.com/city_select_lp.aspx)

        Only caveat is that (besides the large initial expense) the seats it comes with are made for 6+ months, so you will have the added cost of purchasing/hiring a car seat or basinette while in the newborn stage (and these require another attachment). So, fantastic pram but an expensive option. Worth looking around for second hand.

    • Look at umbrella strollers. B/c I had twins, I ended up with the Maclaran double stroller, and it’s awesome.

      I would also look into babywearing — slings, wraps, mei tais, etc. Very handy for the farmer’s market, I found, when I only had one baby in tow.

      If you’re going to drive a lot, I hear good things about Snap’n’go set-ups. I don’t drive at all so I don’t have personal experience here.

  5. I love the City Mini as well for all of the reasons Holly mentioned above as well as the large canopy. Tried the Joovy Kooper and loved its big canopy (I like to keep my babies covered!) but it wasn’t as easy to fold and the front wheel sometimes got stuck in a weird way. Little frustrations add up, especially when you’re a new, overtired mama. I also received a travel system as a gift with my first baby. If I had it to do over, I would buy a snap and go to use while my baby was in the infant seat. (Mine outgrew the infant seat weight-wise by 6 months.) And then have my city mini for everything after that.

    The good news is you can resell as well as buy strollers easily on craigslist. I wish I did this more with my kids in the beginning. There’s so much barely used baby stuff out there that I could have saved a bundle on.

  6. I love my chicco London umbrella stroller. I went on a trip with the SUV type stroller when my son was 3 months, and sorely regretted it, picking up the chicco out of desperation on the trip. It was easy enough to take on the subway by myself (with no elevators), but substantial enough that it doesn’t feel flimsy. It also has a reclining seat which is a must for little babies, and bigger ones who want to nap. Even has a small basket, and taller handles than most umbrella strollers.

    • Agreed! I have a Chicco Liteway stroller from target, and it can recline all the way. We used it from infancy on. It was the only way I could find at the time that reclined flat.
      I have a big stroller for use at our neighborhood trails that I got off of CL, but use the smaller one whenever I leave the house.

      • I also have a Chicco Liteway that I got when babies r us had a sale. We got it out of the box and then asked them to throw the box away for us so we wouldn’t have to.

  7. I did a bunch of research on this for our upcoming kid, and found that the Maclaren brand are basically the nicest umbrella strollers you can buy. They’re a little more expensive than your average umbrella stroller, but they have more features and are more durable – no sense paying $50 for a stroller if you’ll have to replace it in a year.

    We picked the Maclaren Triumph, which is neither their cheapest nor their more expensive stroller. It has good reviews on amazon It goes for around $180 but look for sales – we got ours at BRU for $130.

    And just an FYI – most strollers do not recline all the way, so they can’t be used for newborns, unless they can take an infant car carrier. I think the Maclaren Triumph can be used starting at 3 months.

    • Yes I was also going to suggest the Maclaren Triumph,we picked ours up for $130 as well online and it has been amazing, It’s about 11 lbs I believe and once folded it has a nifty little back strap to sling over your shoulder to help you carry it upstairs . Very easy, very durable and it handles like a dream, but like amb said, it is not suitable for newborn use. Might I suggest babywearing your little one for the first few months until they are old enough for the stroller? We used a Moby wrap, which is about $40, can be wrapped in many ways and is suitable for use from preemies up through toddlerhood.That way, you could invest in one lightweight stroller that you can use when your baby is old enough.
      Good luck with your search 🙂

  8. i used a chicco C6 with my oldest boy until he was about 4. LOVED IT. but it finally broke when my hubs stuck it too close to the bendy part of a light rail train. they’re under $80, fold up small, and have awesome colors. the only downside is the sunshade is a little small. this stroller is for kids 6 months and older.

    we got an aprica presto for this kiddo, it doesn’t fold quite as small as the chicco but it’s waaaaaaay smaller than a graco or bob stroller. it has a kickass sunshade and comes with a rain cover. we got it on clearance so it was also about $80. this one fits my 3 month old nicely and keeps him semi upright. not for newborns… i mostly wear him, but the stroller is good for long days out.

  9. In a fit of anti buggy (buggy – English slang for stroller) rebellion I have ordered a bolivian sling and nothing else for my soon to be born son. Am hoping that if I really need one someone will give one to me. There must be squillions of needing to be recycled strollers. As soon as I found out I was pregnant friends sent me links to the trendiest ‘it’ stroller. It really put me off. Am aiming on having a baby with minimal baby paraphernalia. It might be naive but I just moved from South America where baby essentials are a few bits of cloth!

    • I think the sling is a great idea! We were given a City Mini stroller and it is as great as everyone says, but we’ve only used it for afternoon walks so far. My son just turned 3 months old and he loves being carried in my sling or the Moby wrap! My husband also has a wrap and we trade off carrying him, especially now that he’s almost 16 lbs! I expect to use the stroller more and he gets older/heavier, so I’m glad we have it, but I have loved wearing my baby everywhere!

    • I didn’t get a stroller until I realized that I wanted to walk to the farmer’s market for my groceries, and not drive. I only use it when I am shopping, and all the rest of the time, I babywear. My stroller is a $30 used baby jogger.

  10. I also agree with the City Mini nom – it’s sooo easy to manueuver, especially one-handed.
    The basket underneath isn’t huge (and on the pre-2011 models it’s not the easiest to access), but you can unsnap the sides to make it easier.
    If you have a infant carrier, I recommend getting the adapter bar with the stroller. Makes life so much easier. I also strongly recommend getting the rain cover specific to the City Mini – it’s got a zipper in the middle that means you can take your kid in and out of the stroller with the cover still on – or even just inzip it to give the kid some air once you’re in a covered area.

  11. This question is so hard to answer for different people. First where do you live? Is there 6 months of bad weather and snow or is it at worst, a couple weeks? How do you get around your city? Are you a walker or driver?

    If you’re not dealing with harsh elements, my honest recommendation for you is to pick up a graco infant car seat and grab this. You could likely fold this up and store it in your vestabule (provided other building neighbors don’t mind) and just carry up your infanct car seat. I see plenty of people leave this downstairs with the car seat in it and they just carry their baby. That’s going to be the easiest for you as long as the child is in the infant seat. The great thing about this is you’re spending the least amount of money up front while you decide what will work best for you. When you sell your car seat, you can sell this too and get it out of the house in one go.

    I do not have a car, so I walk or bike everywhere, using public transit as little as possible. So I chose a big “SUV” Bob stroller because I know how bad sidewalks are in the winter here and how bad a lot of people are at shoveling them. Then get to the corner and the street plows have blocked in all the crosswalks. I absolutely could not get the wheels of that stroller frame through the snow for a full winter here, thus, I got a Bob for primary use and a more umbrella type stroller for summer occasional use. The Bob is a dream, pushes one handed (honestly one fingered) and turns on a dime. As heavy as it might be, getting up and down stairs is easy too, I go up backwards and pull it up, the big wheels are perfectly sized for going up and down stairs.

    It’s really going to vary upon your personal needs, if I didn’t live in Chicago or I was the type to drive everywhere and just needed something for mall shopping or sunny day strolls, I absolutely would have gone for the graco combo then found the right stroller once she was bigger and I knew how we functioned as a family.

    • Oh, and do some investigating where you live, there are some stores that have set up stroller obstacle courses for people to come in and try every type of stroller out in every ground condition they’ll encounter. There’s one in the suburbs here that I wish to GOD I had known about before buying any of our other strollers (we ridiculously have like 6 now only 4 we use :P) and it would have saved me from buying 2 of my mistakes. oish!

  12. i like my strollers and i’ve had a lot of them, being on on kiddo #3… i also love babywearing, but i have around a 2 hour limit on my wrap or Beco before i’m ready to put the kiddo somewhere else…

    my favourite umbrella stroller was a Maclaren Quest – lightweight at 12 lbs, folds up small, decent basket, usable from 3 months (the Techno is usable from birth)…

    i won’t lie, though, love my Bugaboo Bee Plus more – bigger than an umbrella stroller but smaller than a standard with a lot of their features, 18.5 lbs, maneuvers like a dream, seat can face towards or away from you, has a car seat adapter, usable from birth…

    Angela: i got a Maclaren Twin Techno for my older boys and still use it all the time…

  13. I agree with starting out with a Graco carseat and a Car Seat Stroller Frame for the first year or so. The baby will be safe and snug in the carseat and there is tons of storage underneath for shopping. I walked the baby to get groceries several times a week this way. Then you have at least 6 months to figure out what stroller you may want for when the baby can sit up. It seems that everything we bought before the baby was born ended up not really working for the baby. Wish we would have waited to see what her needs were first before buying. We had bought a very expensive, deluxe stroller that she essentially hates and now we end up using the crappy $25 Toys R Us umbrella stroller!

  14. We had a travel system, but we broke it trying to put it together. We replaced it with a $60 Jeep brand stroller frame that universally fits infant car seats. It is a lightweight, easy to maneuver stroller that folds easily with 1 hand. I love it. It’s so simple, yet sturdy. I wrote a lengthy review on Amazon, if anyone is interested.

  15. This is a perfectly timed thread! I have put off buying baby gear on purpose, other than the car seat and the gift pack’n’play we got. I have borrowed numerous types of carriers (baby bjorn, Maya sling, Moby wrap) that have worked awesome for all stages of my son’s growth, but he just hit six months and is close to 20lbs! I can no longer carry him for long without my back aching…

    We were just talking about getting a stroller, and when we looked at them during pregnancy Baby Jogger was also the brand we liked most. I still love cuddling with my son, but it may be time for me to give in to stroller-dom. On a side note, the movie Away We Go has an epic scene about strollers (self-mocking the “hippie families” of Berkeley), my husband and I inwardly laugh every time we think about it.

    • You should look into a carrier you can wear your 20 pounder on your back like an boba or ergo. When they get to heavy in the front time to switch to the back.

      • The Beco Gemini is still doing the job for my 21 pounds daughter. I find that it carries very well, with a large belt and crossed shoulder straps. It’s been so easy to use a baby carrier instead of a stroller. I had no idea that it would be the case. In retrospect, I would have waited to buy any baby stuff other that a car seat till after my daughter was born. Even if all the marketing tells you that you will NEED it!

  16. I would recommend looking for a used stroller. Some of them are super expensive and I was surprised by the short time I used it. I used warps or slings to carry my daughter around town when she was younger and mainly just pulled out the stroller for longer trips. By the time she was 2 she walked everywhere and the stroller was used to carry the ridiculous amounts of stuff I always think I need and don’t! Luckily my mom got my 2 strollers at yard sales and they were both super cheap and very nice. My favorite of the Jeep and Graco strollers was the Jeep because we did not have the best sidewalks where I lived. The larger tires were great for getting up big steps or down off of tall curbs. It was also 3 wheels and easier to steer.

  17. I am a nanny in Chicago and have used many different types of strollers. My favorite by far is the single Maclaren, which ever version. The Maclaren double stroller my employers currently have is horrible though. It takes two hands to open and close and is difficult to push. The single has been awesome. I think the shoulder strap and drink/wallet attachments are a must if you are an active person. (I’ve taken this on the el, metra, buses and haven’t had any issues.) The smaller wheels make it less great for winters, but I usually switch to a good quality (good back support required!) backpack or carrier.

    I now care for a 1 and 3 year old and we often go without a stroller, putting the little one in an ergo (favorite baby carrier to this date). My current job is 3rd floor walk up, so the ergo has saved my life, only way to get baby and groceries up the stairs at the same time. Also have found that a backpack is the handiest diaper bag for active city people.

    But if you get one and hate it, I wouldn’t be afraid to sell it and find one you like, because nothing makes an outing more unfun than hating the stroller the whole time you’re out.

  18. I’m not a car user – transit and walking for me.

    Maclaren strollers were recommended to us by family friends whose stroller has been through 4 kids. It was a great recommendation.

    We got a Maclaren Quest as a gift and bought a Beco Gemini carrier. I used the carrier when she was too small for the Quest. She started in the Quest at 3 or 4 months-still a bit young, bus she loved seeing the world. Now that she’s 9 months I still use the carrier for shorter trips, but as she gets heavier it’s easier to put her in the stroller. Since we live in the city most of the walks are shovelled or salted so snow is a bit challenging, but not really an issue. The stroller is also great on subways. I can hold her on my arms and sling it over my shoulder to tackle stairs or streetcars.

  19. I know the BOB Revolution is opposite of what you say you’re looking for, but I swear it’s the best investment we made. Though we found ours used on craigslist and it was a little beat up looking (faded)…it still works SO great. You can go anywhere with it. Around town, the grocery store, trails…and it folds up and fits nicely in the back of our tiny car. If you start looking now I’m sure that you can find a good one for cheap on the internets. We’ve used ours everyday since she was born and she almost 3 now.

  20. This: http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3692931 It’s under 20 pounds (and honestly feels even lighter than that when you get into the habit of hauling another human being and all his stuff around), has tons of storage space, is really easy to pop up and down, has elephants on it (!), and at $80, we don’t feel bad abusing the heck out of it. Apparently the car seat will snap onto it for infant use, but since we had already been given a different brand of car seat, we just got a padded infant insert, and ba-zing. Cheap, easy, looks nice, and it’s lightweight.

  21. I say, go to your nearest second-hand baby store, bring a very heavy purse, and load up different kinds of strollers and push them around until you find one that fits you well. There are so many factors to consider– are you extremely short or tall? Do you need a place for a drink and a place for your bag to hang? Do you travel light? I ended up buying a used stroller at a baby consignment shop even though I had a new one given for baby’s birth because the second-hand one was infinitely better suited to me.

  22. I heartily recommend looking on CraigsList in your area (some states have a state-wide network, some cities have their very own) for strollers. You can contact folks and try out the stroller they’re selling… AND you can get wicked nice, formerly expensive strollers super cheap!

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