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’m so in love with my stroller, I have been WAITING for someone to ask me why I love it. AHA, you!

    Ok. I have a Baby Trend Travel System. It’s a carseat, detachable base, and stroller.

    1. It only cost me $199 to get a carseat and stroller, and I’m still using it with a husky 16 month old.

    2. Awesome for newborns because the carseat can be clicked into the top of the stroller, instead of unbuckling and moving baby around. My son would sleep through entire trips because he never knew he was being moved.

    3. Awesome for newborns, again, because the carseat and stroller have opposing shades that, when they’re used together, makes a little weather/windproof pod that baby can sleep in. (It even has a mesh screen so you can look in without opening it.)

    4. The how-tos of adjusting the different parts are really clear. Not super simple, always, but very obvious.

    5. It has fit my son from the time he was a 7 lb newborn, to now at 27lb and a mile and a half tall.

    6. The storage basket underneath was made by the same people who made Mary Poppins’s bag, I swear. Diaper bag, purse, water bottle, blanket, jacket, shoes…

    7. Cupholders. Two of ’em.

    8. It’s really agile and reasonably light. It’s a jogger, so the wheels are springy and it’s built to move well.

    9. It’s collapsible, and therefore easy to put in the car.

    10. The handlebar adjusts up and down. Not a big deal to some, but I’m 5’9″ and most strollers with non-adjustable handles were a little too low for me.

    11. I’ve found that this stroller has a secret gang sign… when other moms who have the same stroller see each other, there’s a little smile-of-recognition, point-to-the-stroller, thumbs-up action that happens. (This may be the case with any good stroller, but it’s happened to me THREE TIMES.)

    Alright. I’mma take a cold shower now. Damn it’s a good stroller.

  2. That baby jogger city mini is the closest thing to the stroller I loved the best (which I picked up at a second hand store, after they’d stopped making them. I cannot remember the name now, my kid is almost 6, we gave the stroller away long ago…).

    What I liked was that it had one wheel in front, folded up very small (we took it to Europe for a month) and was lightweight and had one bar instead of two handles (I could use one hand to wheel it, if I needed to walk with my then two year old and carry luggage in the stroller, like we did on our layover).

    We ended up with three strollers (that awesome lightweight one, a regular jogger stroller and a graco one that the car seat attached to) AND I have probably owned about 12 different baby carriers, as well! I mostly “wore” my kid, but sometimes a stroller is good.

  3. We have a Phil & Ted’s Smart Buggy and love it. Easy fold, super smooth ride, very very compact. 290 for just the buggy, or 350 for buggy and bassinet. The front wheels are fully articulated, making skinny sidewalks and tight spots no problem.

  4. If I had to do stroller buying all over again I would get the snap and go that goes with whatever car seat you buy. There is no seat and instead the carseat snaps in.

    Then when your child is 4 months old go stroller shoping. There are a ton on this list that I or someone in my friends group have and all are good. City Mini is top of this line but at 400+ it should be. Once you have a real idea of how you will use it buy something of Craigslist if you can and save some money AND help the overwhealming amount of waste in the world.

    • This was my question!!

      For those who asked- We live in Northern Ontario (Canada), where craigslist is less used and online shopping is key. We are hoping to find something used (but are open to new if its the best) planning on baby wearing the first few months, but since my main mode of transportation is feet, it seems likely that a stroller may help when I need some errand type shopping done. All of the replies so far have been great, and have exposed us to strollers we have never seen before or heard of. Thank you everyone!!! And keep ’em coming.

  5. whatever you pick, look for it used first. I got a nice Maclaren from a local consignment shop for cheap.

  6. We were looking for the same sort of stroller: Affordable, compact, lightweight. Something we could use for walking down to the market or take on the plane for vacation. I had a short list of about five different ones from various “Best Lightweight Strollers” lists on various websites, but then I saw a woman at Target using a small, lightweight stroller in the parking lot. She folded it up with one hand AND put in her car with one hand! I nearly fell over myself running over and asking her the brand. It was a Kolcraft Tour. $49 on Amazon.

    http://www.amazon.com/Kolcraft-Umbrella-Stroller-Adjustable-Canopy/dp/B001HD75I4/

    We read the reviews and ordered it. Thus far, we are very happy! It does what we need it to do as far as quick non-intensive trips. Some things to note: We tossed the lame cup-holder. It doesn’t fully recline, but our son can snooze in its slightly reclined state. There’s not an underneath storage area, but i’ve thrown shopping bags over the handles and that’s worked perfectly well for small shopping. As I said, quick non-intensive trips. For anything longer or more complicated, we roll out the big $400 Chicco. For small stuff, we love love LOVE this tiny, cheap umbrella stroller!

  7. I have one word, ERGO. It’s easy, it’s light and it calms the baby. I use the Moby in the house and the Ergo outside because it provides extra support. We walk about 2 miles a day with it and it has yet to cause me a sore back. My babe is about 4 months old and I have yet to need a stroller. I use the Ergo at the store, too. It’s also easy for breastfeeding! The only pain is the in and out of the carseat but really, how many places do you go with an infant? Ergo, Ergo!

  8. I totally second the recommendation for craigslist. We got a brand-new, still in the box Bugaboo Bee on CL for less than half of what it retails for (the woman had received two as gifts). It’s actually perfect for our needs – we don’t have a car, so we needed something small and light for taking the streetcar/subway – and we live on the 3rd floor of a low rise, but we wanted something that was good from birth, could face both ways, and had an adjustable handle. We weren’t even looking at it originally since regular price it’s way out of our range.

    That said, the Baby Jogger City Mini was our next option most likely if we hadn’t scored such a great deal.

    We also looked at the Quinny strollers, and heard a lot of recommendations for the MacLarens. And a friend of mine just got a ‘mama and papa’ stroller that looks pretty cute, though I don’t know how light it is.

    We also got a cheap-o frame on CL for plopping the car seat in for when we are getting rides or rent a car. We figure we can sell both that and the bugaboo on CL when we’re done and recoup a lot of what we spent!

    • Oh, and seconding the baby wearing comments. We had a moby type wrap for the early months and now mostly use the ergo. Truly, we wear her most of the time, and almost exclusively in the beginning. She’s 20 lbs now so I max out at like two hours but up until 6 or so months we would wear her all day. We used a stroller a fair bit on the super hot hot summer days though.

  9. I like the snap n go frame for when they’re still in the “bucket ” (infant seat I hate those things) or a Bjorn or wrap if you’re going somewhere crowded like a street fair or farmers market. Then get a lightweight! umbrella. I find maclarens overrated, but like the chicco and even the cheapy $20 ones are awesome.

  10. I got the City Mini too, and it’s wonderful. But I was also gifted an Emmaljunga Mondial, which is PRICEY and SWEDISH, but they can be very reasonable if you buy them second hand (my gifted one was gently used by a friend who had to bail on it when she became unexpected pregnant with her second!). I love that my tiny little 5-week old lady can lie down flat in it, and we’re actually using it as her bassinett too, while she sleeps in our room, since it’s so comfy and she’s so used to it.

    But yeah, major props to the City Mini if you’re looking for a super awesome, easy-to-fold, everyday stroller.

  11. I picked up a Peg Perego Vela for 50% off in the fall. The 2010 model was on sale to make way for the new-and-improved 2011 model (which actually had a feature I didn’t want anyway).

    – It’s only 16lbs (important for me since I’ll need to carry it up and down metro steps since they don’t have elevators/escalators at most stops).

    – You can use several kinds of infant car seats with it to use it like a travel system (including the graco snugride which we got).

    – Folds up small, since we don’t have a lot of extra space in our house and it fits great in the trunk of the car. Also only need 1-hand to fold/unfold it.

    – Has all the extras included that you have to pay extra for with some systems like a basket underneath, a cup holder for mom, tray with cupholder for little one.

    – Very maneuverable with the 3-wheel design.

  12. The aprica!! They have three now, cadence, presto and the new flat. We have the hot pink one of the cadence version and its amazing! We usally use her trike, walk or ergo. However when we have used it only the best reviews super lightweight and a strap to carry on your stroller. Awsome colors. And its tall and super padded. Check it out!

  13. Sounds like you just want a basic umbrella stroller.

    We got a Britax B-scene because it has lots of under-seat space for groceries etc. But my baby’s two months old and we used it for the first time today. I’ve been carrying the baby in my Moby wrap and LOVE that–the stroller just seems like a hassle in comparison. Although I have to say we have found it useful for one thing… we’ve taken the seat off and laid it flat on the floor with a soft blanket inside as a bassinet. 😉 My daughter’s sleeping in it right now, in fact.

    I’d ditto some previous commenters and suggest waiting to buy a stroller until your baby’s at least a month or two old. Then you’ll have a better idea whether you want a travel system, umbrella stroller, wrap, etc.

  14. I recommend the Baby Jogger brand. Sounds like the City Mini might suit you well…

    I have a City Elite which I love! It was more than what i wanted to pay ($850+accessories down here in Perth, Australia) however I found it walking into a baby store and listing out our requirements (public transport, going across a hockey pitch as my partner plays every weekend, easy to fold and carry as we live 1 floor up, adjustable handles since i’m 5’4 and partner is 6’4).

    All that said, I loved the City Mini and wanted one however with the hockey pitch issue and the fact that my kidlet is BIG in height and weight (he made it look really small when he was only 5 months :/) it was never going to work for us as a long term pram solution.

  15. We have a Chicco Capri Stroller. It’s normally $80, got it at Baby’s R Us for $50. Some people will not like this because it is only forward facing, but we started putting our son into it at 2.5 months old. It reclines farther back than his carseat, with a five point harness, so we figured it was no problem. He loves it, it’s about 8lbs, and it comes with a carrying strap attached to it. Good luck!

  16. We are currently shopping for a stroller set up that will accommodate a wide range of ages and needs of our foster children.

    The current favorite set us we are looking at is a wagon. One with real wheels, not the hard plastic ones, and some sort of raised side so Jr. has something to lean aganst. If they are young enough to wear, we will wear them and drag all the stuff in the wagon. If they are too big to wear they can alternate between riding in and pulling the wagon and if they are somewhere in the middle we can always toss the wrap into the wagon as something to sit on if they want to be down for a while. Meanwhile we have plenty of room to load up groceries and carry our stuff.
    I would imagine you could do this from day one and put the infant seat in the wagon if you needed to carry the car seat too, or just wrap your baby and pull everything else behind you.

    Plus, no one ever outgrows a wagon! As an adult I often wish I had a little red wagon to pull bags of dirt around the yard or haul all the grocery bags in on one trip!

  17. I can only sing the praises of the stroller we purchased when my littlest was about 4 months old. On a whim we purchased the Jeep Cherokee Sport Stroller. At the time we bought it in Walmart and it was about $50. We had a gift card so we went for it. It seemed to move really easy, it was easy to fold and lift with one hand, and is super light. But let me tell you, this thing is RUGGED! We have taken it on all kinds of ground and it holds its own! The basket underneath is perfect for us at the library or doing some light shopping. The littlest loves riding in it. We’ve had it for practically 2 years and it still looks pristine.

  18. This is probably not the most helpful. I fear that most things with baby-related STUFF end up eliciting a huge diversity of responses that mirrors the huge diversity of options that overwhelmed you online. I think that the person that asked more about your needs is honing in on what might help get better advice. It would be great if there were stars for different features: tall parents/short parents, city/surburban/rural roads, storage space or not, etc. Then it would help. As well as a budget.

    All that said, we had a bunch of stroller folks gave us (Graco travel system, Chicco something or another, Snap-n-Go). I used the Snap-n-Go for one post-partum appointment when the kid was super little. I used the Chicco one for a walk last summer when it was TOO hot to wear the kid. I used the Graco for a few more hot summer walks. And now we have a sport Ergo that breathes better and are hoping we can just use that this summer. He is 23 pounds now, and the Ergo is still all we ever use.

  19. Literally hours ago, I downsized from a ridiculously large Graco jogger (a gift from my husband’s coworker along with a carrier and two carseat bases) to a Lamaze LS 50. We’ve gone for one walk so far to the post office and back and it’s fantastic. Light enough that I can pick the whole thing up to get it down the front stoop, with enough structure to the seat that my daughter’s back stays relatively straight–very important when she’s in the 91st percentile for height and is super-sensitive to anything that makes her back curve, so all those cheap umbrella strollers with the “hammock” seats are out.

    The construction feels a bit cheap; the wheels quite literally snap on, and the canopy is rather useless for shading an infant. Also, the under-seat storage isn’t really adequate for anything larger than my water bottle. Otherwise this thing is great, and I can fold it up one-handed, which means we’ll soon be taking trips on the bus once again. I’m very happy with it.

  20. I use a bob revolution se stroller for home (I know, SUV stroller, but AWESOME!!) and a mclaren volo umbrella stroller for travel or quick trips at home. The latter is only useful past 5/6 months old though, as it has no recline, so you wouldn’t be able to use it with a newborn. We just used a car seat attachment stroller thingy for the newborn phase and that worked well.

  21. The city mini is the standard of light weight? Those things are huge. Nothing beats ‘cosco’ Brand on amazon. $16 and 3 pounds. Narrow enough to fit through nyc subway turnstiles, it’s a city mini for people who actually live in a city and commute without a car. It definately feels a little cheap – does not turn on a time,and gasp, no cup holders- but is extremely practical

  22. As somebody who worked in a baby store for 3+ years, if you are planning on going cross border shopping for your stroller, and end up getting a travel system (stroller & carseat & carseat base for the car), you need to remember that the car seat laws vary from country to country. Carseats intended for the Canadian market will ALWAYS have a red maple leaf sticker on them. You cannot use a US car seat in Canada. Doing so can result in a fine, arrest, or cancellation of your life insurance or car insurance. Although it is tempting to get a great deal on a travel system, if you ever get caught, there can be drastic consequences.

    In terms of lightweight strollers, I am a fan of the Peg Perego brand from Italy. Pricey, but worth it in my opinion. They’re pretty light (the Pliko P3 comes in at just over 11 pounds), and all of their strollers can be used from infancy. The Pliko P3 has a smaller basket due to the folding mechanism (it has an umbrella stroller fold, but requires 2 hands), and the UNO’s seat can be folded flat to be used as a bassinet and can be switched to facing in (baby facing you) or facing out (baby facing the world). They also have height adjustable handles.

    Alternately, Maclaren is a great brand, their strollers are great, but some models have less storage then others.

    As others have suggested, go into baby stores in your area and try things out! Bring your usual baby bag to see if it’ll comfortably fit into the bottom basket or hang on the handles, and see if your baby likes it. One of the best customers I helped had a list of features that she wanted in a stroller. It made it MUCH easier for me to help her narrow down her choices and find a stroller and car seat that she loved.

    And a final piece of advice: if you are buying used, make sure that you check the EXPIRATION DATE of the car seat. Yes, just like food, car seats have an expiration date. The information will be located either on the box of the carseat/stroller combo, or on the car seat itself. All carseats that are sold/made/used in Canada have a 4 year expiry date. That means 4 years after the manufacture date of the carseat, you can’t legally use it. This only applies to infant carseats, as other styles of car seats (infant/child, child/booster, infant/child/booster) all have different expiry dates. In terms of good carseat brands if you choose to go that route, are Graco (one of the top rated car seats in NA, and now the only infant carseat with a 32lb limit!), Peg Perego, Britax (taking Graco’s spot as the top rated carseat, with many safety features that go above and beyond Transport Canada’s regulations), and Baby Trend.

    Good luck finding your dream stroller! If you live in the Toronto/GTA area, I can recommend some great stores for strollers, and some great people I know!

  23. We are in the same boat. We are considering the Britax B-agile for our first child born later this summer. I want something light weight, easy to fold, and could accommodate an infant car seat if needed (still considering whether to get an infant car seat). This is very similar to the Baby Jogger City Mini – except we like it better when we tried them out at Baby R Us. My husband is tall, and when he tried to BJCM, he kept kicking the back bar/rear axle, but didn’t have a problem with the b-agile because it doesn’t have a back bar! You can search youtube on a video comparing the two.

  24. We really like our Quinny Zapp. We also had the coordinating infant seat, but we didn’t use it as a travel system all that much because our son loved being worn. But it’s a really nice, lightweight stroller that folds up smaller than others of its type.

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